Nigerian Pilot - There were indications weekend that President Muhammadu Buhari is under pressure from the foreign community to sack his Aviation minister and former Rivers state governor, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi following his indictment for corruption by the Justice George Omeregi-led Rivers State Judicial Commission of Inquiry, set up to investigate the sale of state assets and the consequent Whitepaper issued by the state government.
On a related note, the federal administration was said to be uncomfortable with unpleasant reports about the disposition of the current Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Lawal Babachir and the President’s Chief of Staff, Alhaji Abba Kyari. The President is reportedly disposed to easing them out of office.
The president is said to be under intense pressure to drop allegedly corrupt appointees from his cabinet to successfully prosecute his administration’s anti-graft war.
A Western diplomat who confided in Nigerian Pilot disclosed that “there is now increased and general erosion of confidence in the president’s ability to prosecute his administration’s anti-graft war. He added that, “about five senior diplomats have had reason to pass similar observations to the presidency after the Rivers state government Whitepaper that indicted your minister of Aviation, Amaechi over alleged corruption during his years as governor.”
“If I can recall very vividly, they told the president that until people like Amaechi in his government are excused from government to defend the telling allegations against him, the corruption fight will not be taken seriously,” he further said.
The declaration by the diplomats he said was buoyed by a letter written by Governor Nyesom Wike to foreign missions and Embassies detailing findings and related documentary evidences including the government Whitepaper of the Justice George Omeregi commission probe report on the state’s finances during the Amaechi years as governor.
Rivers state’s Commissioner of Housing, Emma Okah, who spoke on behalf of the State Government, who spoke to journalists in Port Harcourt last year on the foregoing report had disclosed that the state’s Attorney-General had been mandated to start all legal processes against Amaechi; a former military administrator of Rivers State, Brigadier Anthony Ukpo (Rtd) and some other former political office holders to refund over N97 billion allegedly misappropriated in the sale of the state’s valued assets.
According to investigations by Nigerian Pilot, alleged indictment by some foreign consultants contracted by Buhari to assess his administration six months after assuming office.
“The president being a leader desirous of returning Nigeria to the path of sanity and prosperity contracted the consultants recommended by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. But the president gave them his own terms of reference which were not envisaged by his earlier understanding with Obasanjo,” said one foreign diplomat who was privy to the matter.
He said that the report concluded that the Buhari administration was better off when the President was working with permanent secretaries adding that he should have retained some of the “good and patriotic hands among them” instead of the almost clean sweep that sent all of them away leaving a wide vacuum in positive governance. “They were effective either because they understood the workings of government very well given their experiences or they dreaded any tendency to act outside the directives of President Buhari,” he added.
The source continued: “the president contracted a firm from the U.S. to assess the performance of his government and officials. The result is far from complimentary in respect to some officials, number one of which is the SGF, Engr. Lawal.
“The SGF’s supervisory role over the MDAs was also brought to question in the report; but it is surprising that the president has allowed him to stay this long after that report. I am aware too that somebody is being considered for that position,” the source confided.
One of the instances mentioned in the consultant’s report is the sacking of heads of MDAs recently whereby other political appointees in such MDAs were left out of the action.
Said the source, “some departments and agencies’ staffers have expressed the worry that executive directors were left in office while chief executives of some agencies have been sacked by the present regime.
“The aggrieved staff argued that executive directors ought to have gone with the chief executives since they are all political appointees, stressing that the executive directors could not be excused from any impropriety that may have happened in such departments and agencies.
“The affected staff appealed to the president to as a matter of urgency sack the executive directors and probe their time in office.”
He said the case of the Chief of Staff is not different as his effectiveness as the bridge between the president and his aides alongside other federal, states and foreign governments’ officials has long been in doubt.
Put together, the source alleged that the ineffectiveness of the duo has contributed largely to the steep nose-dive of government in the past months.
The two presidency officials were appointed last October by Buhari.