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Minister Lai And The Missing N2.5b.

Nigerian mainstream media has always had a questionable bromance with the political class, particularly its progressive corner. Maybe, the alliance would be justified in the days of principled politicking when the society and its goodness mattered. Then, parochialism could be explained away with 'for public good.' But lords of the belly are in charge these days, and the new era of jeunsoke (selfish) progressivism is moving the kele-kele love (salute to Tiwa Blizz) to open giggling and unabashed ear-cooing. Only God knows who is whispering sweet nonsense into the other, but the media is now so criminally-protective of thieves in the so-called enclave of public defenders who would rather go to bed empty than eat pork, that just ordinary SMH emoji, would be enough, for all the disappointment one's tribe is pulling home.

As Minister of Information and party PR genius, Lai Mohammed, could be deemed qualified for media protection under the dog-doesn't-eat-dog syndrome, but for someone who is quick to project purity in all manner of things, including in his religion, politics and personal comfort-like being the husband of one wife, he should ordinarily need little or no media protection, if the espoused piousness is ote (authentic). Lest we forget also, just like overzealous security details, mainstream media could go overboard in protecting those considered its own, even when overt demand isn't being made of it, because only that, could explain keeping the humongous scam in the National Broadcasting Corporation, under the ministerial supervision of Oga Lai, away from the tax-paying public.

Premium Times has, however, been a redeeming feature, giving life to stories, media would love to 'kill.' To PT family, here is a toast. So, the minister made criminal approval for DG Modibbo Kawu and ICPC is charging only the latter to court, because the N2.5 billion developed wings. PT report says the minister bullied ICPC investigators who interrogated him and refused to have the questioning session recorded because the SGF Boss Mustapha, didn't give him permission to speak to the press! Rasheedat Okoduwa, ICPC's spokeswoman, defended the non-inclusion of Lai in the charge sheet, because the minister was deceived by Kawu, the fall-guy, to sign the fraudulent contract to Lucky Omoluwa's Pinnacle Communications. In Oga Lai's few words to the investigators, he confessed to approving the fake project, without due diligence, meaning he did it, in error. Well, people fall into error, regardless of status and high offices. No man is infallible. But PT dug beyond Lai Mohammed's claim and discovered he was neck deep in the scam, including direct talks with Pinnacle and even foreign trips, which must have come with full complement of estacode. Will a pious man lie?

At this point, nothing suggests guilt or acquittal. Kawu and Omoluwa are about having their day in court and with the way Kawu is already screaming about set-up et al, days ahead could be interesting, regardless of mainstream media sympathy, cover-up and let-up. It is also not surprising the businessman AGF Abubakar Malami is reportedly pushing to take over the prosecution. He wears his epaulette well, as the administration Mr. Swamp Dweller. A nolle is likely hung on the wall behind his desk.

Oga Lai should work around being charged, so that this 2017 scandal won't top the unresolved suspicious loan of 2016, from the same NBC, which is beginning to look the ATM of the Information ministry. What makes the N2.5 billion scam more worrisome is the understanding that it was pooled from a recovered looted N10 billion from the same NBC. Were Lai and co., simply on a re-looting spree? The 'destiny' of the recovered fund itself is funny, or how does one explain its predilection to continually fall into hands of pen robbers.

Mr Lai hates being branded light-fingered. I remember my first and to date, last interview with him. He almost ripped my head off, bringing up the issue of his GRA mansion and the alleged scam surrounding it. As opposition spokesperson then, he quickly branded me an agent of the ruling party and he 'wasted' adjectives on me. He was so furious he wanted to quit after the first question, because the alleged house scam as Chief of Staff in Lagos, was my first salvo. I did that because I expected a Saint to fear no salvo. I was wrong.

Well, over time, Alhaji and I forged a professional relationship, with little social aspect, to it. Occasionally, as opposition spokesperson, we would have tenuous interlude in our relational, but always made things up. However as a ruling party honcho, I applied my general rule of giving men of power some space. But I still believe in Alhaji as a man of honour, who will rather face the consequences of his 'errors' instead of setting anybody up, as the fall-guy.

Without doubt, integrity has taken a new concept in the Change context and era, with the good, bad and the ugly, sired by the current rulership, ruled beyond official reproach. The unwanted and the 'enemy' are also being pummeled beyond repairs. But nothing lasts forever. We will all wake up someday to discover a new tune in the land. That is why it is better for Alhaji to sort things out now that a friendly Pharaoh is still in charge, when the courts would not give accelerated hearing to rail-road him into jail at all crooked cost or sit on his appeals for ages, so he could rot in hell. A new administration, which may not be long in coming, could use the Dasuki textbook for him. There are many probable and possibilities. Beyond the situational truth, he could also choose to disappoint, even for once, those who have concluded in their mischievous heart that Lai Mohammed will always lie.
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Publication:Nigerian Tribune (Oyo State, Nigeria)
Date:Apr 21, 2019
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