NEMA Controversy: Boxing Shadows, Clawing Hunger

By Jeremiah Ajogwu

The House of Representatives continue to excel at its chosen pastime of time wasting as it presses ahead with its investigation of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), as it made it even clearer that the probe is not about accountability but strictly about nailing the agency’s Director General, Engineer Mustapha Yunusa Maihaja.

Chairman House Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, Hon Ali Isa J.C, apparently at his wit’s end has threatened issuing a warrant of arrest should Maihaja fail to appear at the next committee sitting to which he has been summoned to appear. That Maihaja has to attend to the legitimate duty of actually running NEMA is a reality that the Committee Chairman cannot relate with. His own job is clearly a joke, consisting more of shaking down public office holders and private business managers in the name of oversight.

Maihaja’s appearance before the committee is not the substance here. When he eventually sits opposite Hon Ali Isa in that committee room he would still have to refer issues to the appropriate departments that answer to his office and in some instances, he would have to send the committee into past tense mode as the thing they seek to uncover pre-dates his leadership of NEMA.

Clobbering Maihaja is mere boxing shadows since he is not the key person here. The House members know the real persons to invite to get at some substance. Only that they are under strict instructions to let these real culprits off the hook apparently on instructions reportedly dished out by the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara. Repeated demands from well-meaning Nigerians for the Committee to summon these former directors, who have the answers to the rot at NEMA, have fallen on deaf ears.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is being dragged into the controversy in a manner that could negatively impact the private sector. The apex bank is now being to divulge purely business transactions with private companies. A tenth of the pressure being mounted on CBN and the companies that handled the supply of grains to IDPs camps would have served better purpose if applied to the indicted staff at NEMA and the former Director General, who have answers.

The Committee has instead persisted in providing endless entertainment to citizens, who are no longer amused at the consequent time wasting that has done nothing to improve the lot of citizens just as it has added no value to the anti-corruption war. If anything, it has created time for the cabal that looted NEMA to clean up the acts, obscure their footprints and effectively hide the proceeds of their crime.

If that was not bad enough the committee took the shadow-boxing to a new low by hiring a hack, one Emmanuel Onwubiko of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), to canonize its odious exercise in the hope that this will confer some measure of respectability on it for Nigerians tol look away. Unfortunately, Onwubiko is damaged goods as a hack and disaster as an anti-corruption activist because his is pay-per-deployment.

Had the House Committee done the slightest check on their recruit they would have seen a bigot, who only temporarily get cured with large dose of cash they are paying him. Once they remove the monetary inducement they will realize that Onwubiko is an ethnic jingoist who does not believe in the right of Maihaja, Dogara and Ali Isa to exist because they are northerner who automatically become his sworn enemies once they are not paying him. He will also have issues with some of them on account of their religious belief. That is the true nature of the person they hired to lie on their behalf.

Onwubiko, in spite of his separatist leanings and sympathies for IPOB terrorists, has nothing against earning some Nigerian naira in exchange for befuddling the narrative of what happened at NEMA. That is the politics of hunger! It makes pretentious titans slurp their own vomit. The hunger that claws at Onwubiko’s innards make him throw caution to the wind as he takes a position he will one day struggle to walk back when a new client appears on the block.

The charade of the Committee public hearing can loop on but it will yield no useful results until the right guys are put on the spot, which is also a message about leaving upright people like Maihaja alone to do the work they are being paid to do instead of being threatened with arrest warrants that can never be executed.

Ajogwu is a Columnist at TheNigerian News, Abuja.