Dasukigate: Beyond the Last Abuja Yam Festival

 As the hunt for those who took part in the festival of thievery organized by President Goodluck Jonathan between 2011 and 2015 continues, what haunts the mind of many observers is the perception that everybody who was loyal to the past government and had either offered a service or asked to “perform” one – even if a mere expression of moral solidarity with the government – benefitted from its gifts of Yam sent through the embattled former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki. Statistically, that’s a scary number!

Sadly, some of the people who participated in that brazen sharing of our N1 trillion security vote and other extra-budgetary “allocations” proposed for our country’scounterterrorism have ended their allegiance to the GEJ-led administration a few days to, and after, the presidential election. They’ve built a new nest in the new ruling party.

This week, I saw a list of firms that had dealings with the Office of the National Security Adviser during the infamous festival, and it’s easy to tell that, if fairly investigated, the scandal may consume a sizable population of our political elite across all the political parties in the country, including the APC.

I know this son of a National Security Adviser who’s notorious in Abuja for drag racing in an exotic Italian sports car that even his father couldn’t have afforded if Nigeria were an institutionally strong place. A boy much younger than me could only afford that if, one, he experienced the “Mark Zuckerberg luck factor” or he’s a sports personality who’s secured endorsement deals with Automobili Lamborghini. No, he’s not Dasuki’s son. This is why we must shift the date backward to see the evils of all the wolves who defected to the APC when the music of that Abuja Yam Festival stopped. 

The reason for the financial recklessness isn’t because GEJ was weak; it was because our institutions are weak, because it would’ve been impossible for even the president to have such amount of money withdrawn for dubious purposes with the complicity of the Minister of Finance and the CBN Governor, if our institutions were strong and designed to resist frauds and graft.

 Buhari, like GEJ, is just a personality who, like all of us reading this, will only exist on the pages of newspapers 100 years from now. He’s not an institution, not immortal, and neither is his leadership meant to be forever. He’s a man who also thrives on personal reasons, emotions and sentiments. He’s not infallible, that is. 

My point is, our advocacy for a new Nigeria shouldn’t be a call for a nation built on a personality cult. For Nigeria to be rescued, what’s needed is civic vigilance of both patriotic individuals and the Civil Society Organizations to “dictate” to the President what’s required and desired for a viable nation. These are strong institutions.  

If our institutions were strong, President Buhari himself wouldn’t have considered it wise to frown at the judgment of the judiciary in the cases of Dasuki and Kanu. It’s not a personality cult that builds a sane nation, it’s the wisdom of its leaders to give up their illegitimate rights and selfish interests for all institutions to uphold the values on which they are built. 

Aside from our dysfunctional institutions, the other culprit in the ruin of this nation is compliant society. Our people, instead of frowning at obvious acts of corruption, celebrate the existence of the evidently corrupt. And those who have escaped media trial are praised by their community as heroes of unjust and bigoted system. 

The last time I was in Minna, a relative asked, “You should be thinking of building your own place.” And even though she was only being candidly concerned, it’s not her ignorance of my ability that made her say so. It was her endorsement of the path of dishonour on which many before me had made fortunes. We both knew one “successful” neighbour who, occupying the middle-management cadre in the federal civil service, have acquired houses in Utako, Gwarinpa, and Katampe, alongside the four in Minna. He was a role model in this material society. He won’t be judged, because it’s already established that the pathway to financial glory is presentation of a fat proposal on the desk of a compliant principal or friend. I won’t be shocked to see that he’s a director on the board of one of the firms publicized as recipients of the presidential Yam delivered by Dasuki. 

All this is so because it’s already a tradition for the heads of a ministry, department or agency to ally and rush to Corporate Affairs Commission to register a company and bid for the very contracts advertised by their office. At the end, they invite the nosy juniors who are likely raise brows about the dubious procedures, for shares of the blood money. Because “gofment money na our money; if you no steal am, another pesin go steal. If you no gree take am, another pesin go take am!” May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda on Twitter 

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