OPINION: PMB: One Hug for Kiss; Another Hug for Kill
By Bala Ibrahim
Late chief MKO Abiola, (may his soul rest in peace) used to say, “You have to be close to someone to kiss him, but you also have to be close to him to bite him.”
Yesterday, Thursday, 6/05/21 featured another surprise from President Muhammadu Buhari, as he suspends one of his close allies, and the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman from office.
Through a press statement from his spokesperson Mallam Garba Shehu, titled, “President Buhari Approves Panel of Inquiry on NPA, Asks MD, Hadiza Usman to Step Aside”, Hadiza Bala, whose appointment for another term was recently approved by the President, was asked to proceed on suspension.
Mallam Garba Shehu said, “President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the recommendation of the Ministry of Transportation under Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi for the setting up of an Administrative Panel of Inquiry to investigate the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA. The President has also approved that the Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman steps aside while the investigation is carried out. Mr Mohammed Koko will act in that position. The panel is to be headed by the Director, Maritime Services of the Ministry while the Deputy Director, Legal of the same ministry will serve as Secretary. Other members of the panel will be appointed by the Minister.”
The irony of the Hadiza saga is the paradoxical parts played by the two presidential spokesmen. While Mallam Garba Shehu was the one that announced her suspension yesterday, In January this year, his colleague, Mr.Femi Adesina, was the one that announced the renewal of her tenure.
With similar but joyful language, Mr. Adesina said, “President Muhammadu Buhari has renewed the appointment of Hadiza Bala Usman for a second and final five year tenure as Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). The President also approved the reconstitution of the Non-Executive Board of the NPA, with Mr Emmanuel Olajide Adesoye (from South-west zone) as Chairman. Other members of the Board are Prince Ekenyem Nwafor-Orizu (South-east zone), Akinwunmi Ricketts (South-south zone), Ghazali Mohammed Mijinyawa (North-East zone), Mustapha Amin Dutse (North-West zone), and Abdulwahab Adesina (North-Central zone).”
Although no reason was officially given as to why she was suspended, but the rumour mill has gone into overdrive, with insinuations that the suspension is not unconnected with the soured relationship between her and Minister Rotimi Ameachi, who is the Minister of Transportation, and the supervisor of the NPA.
The question begging for answer is, if indeed Hadiza Bala was under investigation, why was her tenure renewed for another five years, few months ago, only for it to be terminated shortly, and followed by the setting up of an Administrative Panel of Inquiry to investigate the entire management of the authority?
The relationship between Hadiza Bala Usman and the president is not just political, it goes beyond that. As the daughter of one of his close friends, late Dr.Yusuf Bala Usman of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, she is more or less like a daughter to president Muhammadu Buhari.
But like the famous hausa proverb says, ”Sabo da kaza baya hana yanka ta”. Which literally means, intimacy with a domestic fowl cannot stop it’s destiny of going into the slaughterhouse. With PMB, there are examples abound.
In 2017, after about two years on the throne, PMB sacked Babachir Lawal from office, Nigeria’s most senior civil servant. The sack followed an investigation into graft allegations, that had to do with inflating the value of contracts for humanitarian aid projects. Lawal was one of PMB’s first appointments, and speculated to have helped bring the president to power.
Mallam Lawal Daura, the former DG, DSS, is eminently qualified to be called PMB’s flesh and blood. A good search would show how, despite a lot of odds against Lawal Daura, he sacrificed everything, including a career risk, to serve and safeguard Buhari beyond the call of duty, long before he became PMB. But the president sacrificed him to the dogs without remorse.
IGP Ibrahim K. Idris rtd. virtually gave up his life for the sake of Buhari’s considerations and protection against any form of disrespect or humiliation in office. He went to war with anyone that dares the President. Today, despite an untainted record of service, Idris is just slightly better than the wretchedly unhappy, or uncomfortable person in retirement.
Yes, with PMB, don’t go overboard with the confidence of familiarity, he could re-join with heavy irony. If the first hug is for kiss, the next hug could be for kill.
It may interest the President to know that, a cliche that may ridicule his anti-corruption posture and the pledge of, “I am for none, I am for all” is currently circulating on whatsapp, where mention is being made of an embarassing NPDC oil deal, to the tune of $7m, allegedly involving his P.A., Sabiu Tunde, Hajiya Yusuf Magaji Bichi, wife of the DG,DSS, and oil minister Timipre Sylva. The storm is building momentum within the Itsekiri community of the south south.
As for Hadiza, if she is culpable, she should be properly punished. But until found guilty, it is safe to assume that, the poor girl is the latest victim of, PMB’s first hug for kiss, next hug for kill.