Men's Roundtable: Who really is the Presidency?

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The Men's Roundtable

The suspension of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation is still throwing up questions after he asked journalists who the Presidency is.

The suspension of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal, by President Muhammadu Buhari last week took many Nigerians by surprise, especially following the vote of confidence the President gave him during his IDP grass cutting scandal saga.

An interim report by a Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Humanitarian Crisis in the North-East had indicted Lawal of sharp practice in expending the funds meant for alleviating sufferings of Internally Displaced Persons in the North-East.

The Senate had demanded his resignation and prosecution but President Buhari, in his reply to the Senate after an investigation by the Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami, said Lawal was not given a fair hearing.

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To many, Lawal had become so powerful in the government that it was a surprise that Buhari took the step to suspend him alongside the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ayodele Oke following the discovery of stashed billions in an apartment in Ikoyi.

The suspension of Lawal and the setting up of a probe panel to investigate his role in the awarding of over N200 million for grass cutting in the IDP camps is still resonating in the country because of his perceived arrogance, larger-than-thou attitude and his apparent disdain for constituted authority.

 

This much played out when he asked journalists shortly after his suspension who the Presidency is that should suspend him as well as the mockery he displayed while he was being driven away from the Aso Rock Villa.

Those show of arrogance and unassuming haughtiness displayed by Lawal, according to those who know, stem from the fact that he and a few other inner caucus members of the President had held him to ransom, dictating what he should and taking laws into their hands.

This was the same Lawal who was invited by the Senate to explain his role in the award of the contract and he told the Upper Chamber that they had no authority to invite him. During the contentious standoff, a letter purportedly written by the President was sent to the Senate asking them not to probe Lawal.

And this was at a time the President was out of the country on his medical vacation, lending credence to the fact that he could not have written the letter himself but by an unseen hand behind the Presidency.

However, the suspension of Lawal, belated as it may seem, has come at the right time especially with President Buhari determined to unshackle himself from the so-called cabal in the Presidency.

Lawal had shown that he is bigger than the Senate and other constituted authorities in the country and the sneaky way he went about his activities showed he had more up his sleeves.

Recall that the Senate had, in December 2016, called for the resignation and prosecution of Lawal over infractions involving public procurement, particularly, contract awards by the Presidential Initiative on North East, PINE.

 

The Senate had indicted the SGF of sharp practices in expending the funds meant for alleviating the sufferings of the displaced in North East as well as other sharp practices.

According to the report, Lawal allegedly owns one of the companies awarded contracts in the rehabilitation of the North-East. The report also stated that Lawal resigned from the directorship of the company in September 2016 but was still a signatory to the company’s account.

The indictment also linked Lawal to an alleged N1.3 billion contracts and contracts awarded to 20 ghost firms.

Some of the indictments were:

1. Global Vision Ltd., owned by Buhari’s SGF, Babachir Lawal was indicted by the Senate for allegedly benefiting from inflated and phantom contracts – or ones not executed at all – awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East, PINE.

2. Global Vision Ltd., owned by Buhari’s SGF, Babachir Lawal allegedly got over N200 million contract to clear GRASS in Yobe State IDP camp.

3. Global Vision Ltd. was incorporated in 1990 to carry out ICT services, but it allegedly contracted to clear grass in 2016.

4. As at March 2016 that the contract was awarded to Global Vision Ltd, Babachir Lawal was still the director of the company. He only resigned in September 2016.

 

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5. According to the Senate report, Babachir Lawal is still the signatory to the account of Global Vision Ltd.

With so much evidence against Babachir Lawal, it was still baffling that the President had his back at all time till he was pushed to the wall.

However one may look at the scenario that played out, it is still apt to re-echo his parting shot:

"Who is the Presidency?"



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