What intrigues a thinking man over the furore over Ibrahim Magu is that the Senate and the DSS want him to be an angel. The paradox is that, by finding nothing but fuss, they seem to have made him one.
The President has stumbled twice over a stone by nominating him twice before the Senate and meeting rejection twice. But the upper chamber thinks it has won twice. Saraki, the Eleyinmi, must have indulged a gloating laugh. The DSS boss must have done same. Both must have found some time to say congratulations.
Magu, the imperious soldier of morality, may have sulked in silence. But what would Muhammadu Buhari of the imperfect health be doing. What did he say when the word reached him that his pick was scuttled again. Did he call the DSS boss? Did he ask his men to call Saraki, the chief comedian of lawmakers?
The EFCC storm is about purity. We want to cleanse the system, of moral worms and thieving scoundrels. We need one with a pesticide, or shall we say moral suicide. One who can clean the sink. So, it follows that everyone who wants to decide who gets the job must have moral high ground, must not be a sleaze merchant. So, by rejecting Magu, the DSS has presented itself as the angel. Saraki and his men have shown themselves angels. Buhari who nominated him has done so because he is angelic, and Magu must also be an angel.
We all know that it cannot be so, and therefore, we are all kidding. The constitution was not made by angels or for angels. Nigerian citizens are no angels. When the United States constitution was being crafted, the authors knew this. Hence the main writer, James Madison, wrote: “If men were angels, no government will be necessary.”
So, when they formed what is still the best constitution on earth, the U.S. founding fathers like Washington, Hamilton and Jefferson knew they were glorifying an imperfect document, but one with ambition, a revolutionary fervour and credo for human progress and equality. They confessed that it was a project that would be improved along the way. That explains the several amendments on the documents over the centuries.
Ordinarily, one would expect that a man who wants to guard our coffers against thieves would be an imperfect person with a reasonable level of probity. But the Senate wanted a perfect man, so did the DSS. The irony is that they had a “perfect” man, as we could find. They found no fault with him. They wanted to find an appearance of a fault.
They said he had paid for his residence improperly. It was not only an official residence, but he never touched the finances in the transaction nor contacted the persons involved in the deal. Like most persons in such positions, they move into their residences as he did. There were other allegations, which included boarding a plane with potential target of his investigation.
The attorney-general cleared him of the charges, after issuing him a query. So, from all these, it means the only man who said the truth was Magu. That makes the Senate and the DSS purveyors of untruth. The seeming angel here is Magu.
So, what does that make of the President? Buhari comes off as a weak angel. He should be the angel of angels. But it seems the archangel is incapable of defending a lesser angel.
So, what is the matter with DSS? I say, nothing. The DSS is a security agency rooted in the security history of this country. When we became a democratic people, did we retailor the DSS into a democratic machine? If we did, we have failed. The men who took over the reins of office from the soldiers still had military mindsets. They included men like Obasanjo and Danjuma. Of late, we learned from IBB that generals formed a military wing of our democracy, and they have exercised great influence on the polity since 1999. Let’s not forget that the OBJ years boiled over with impunity, and how could the security agents not flow with the strong-arm sentiment of the times? It means that our soldiers have freed themselves from the stronghold of the trigger. They have not plucked themselves from the jackboot style of the military era when security reports were not about facts but about intent. So, reports were tendentious, inspired by bias rather than investigations.
So, we ask a simple question? Did the DSS not know these charges when Magu was first appointed in acting capacity? Secondly, did the President not contact them before nominating and re-nominating the man to the shark waters of the Senate?
If the President didn’t, then we run a naïve executive branch. If the President did, then we have a cravenly presidency. Both are fatal to the concept of the presidential system. Why then do we have Senate whose wheel horses are under investigation presiding over the moral competence of their investigators? If correction lies in the hand that committed wrong, to whom shall we complain? But what Saraki and company are doing is to try to become angelic by intimidating the angelic. Or what Shakespeare noted in his sonnet, “double penance, to correct correction.”
Neither am I saying that Magu is without his fault. The major fault, ironically, does not come off as devilish to them. That is, Magu’s dalliance with impunity and contempt for the rule of law. The Senate and the DSS see nothing there.
Now, let’s see what the President does about his power. The greater target of all this is what may pass as Buhari’s enduring legacy: the war against corruption. The presidency and DSS tango reminds one of the Reagan years when Secretary of State Al Haig defied his boss, and said: “I’m in charge here.” Reagan would not let another snatch his glory.
Magu is still EFCC boss, and he would be so as long as the President wants. The law is clear on that. I support him there as the avenging angel. Let him continue to haunt Saraki and his men, who think they can edge him out and force the President to pick someone else. My fear Buhari lacks enough dan iska in his soul to bait the Senate. If he does, there will be no peace in the Saraki enclave and the corruption czar can act with substantive result.