Babachir Lawal has been too tainted by allegations of corruption to remain a member of Buhari's kitchen cabinet
He is still working for a President Muhammadu Buhari who says he abhors corruption.
It is a crazy scenario to imagine because tainted Lawal should have been fired from his post last year.
In December 2016, the Senate called for Lawal's sack.
His company, Rholavision Engineering, had been indicted for benefiting from inflated contracts awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE).
According to the Senate, as SGF, Lawal had contravened Nigeria’s code of conduct for public officials as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution, by awarding dubious contracts to a firm he owns.
At the time of the Senate hearing, Lawal was still a signatory to his company's bank accounts in what was a clear case of conflict of interest.
According to the Senate committee which conducted the hearing, Lawal's company was awarded a contract worth over N200M to weed out a certain ‘invasive plant specie’ in Yobe State.
The Yobe State government testified that the contract was never awarded.
That's N200M disappearing from the nation's coffers into thin air.
Lawal was also allegedly stealing huge sums of money meant to fend for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) through front individuals and companies.
“Without the prosecution of the SGF, this anti-corruption fight will go nowhere,” said Senator Isah Misau who represents Bauchi in the upper legislative chamber.
Chukwuka Utazi who represents Enugu in the Senate said the “President should review how somebody like Babachir Lawal managed to get into this government".
Senator Dino Melaye said “Babachir Lawal is a disgrace to the All Progressives Congress (APC).”
In his defense, Lawal said the lawmakers are a bunch of liars. He said the legislators were only on a mission to "rubbish" his personality.
“The senate is talking balderdash; it has developed the habit of bring-him-down syndrome,” he said.
Lawal added that: “By the way, it is very instructive that when the committee was sitting, no effort was ever made to invite me to come and make submission. It is therefore surprising that they devoted a whole session maligning me, claiming what is not true without even giving me the chance to come and put my own case before them.”
In his New Year message to Nigerians, Buhari hinted that Lawal will be dealt with in accordance with the laws of the land if found culpable.
The President didn't mention Lawal by name.
"Government is aware of some mistakes and wrongdoings in handling the affairs of IDPs. We are taking measures to correct those mistakes and punish the culprits", Buhari promised.
Those who know Lawal say he is incorrigibly light fingered. There are allegations that Lawal has demanded for bribes in exchange for board and parastatal appointments.
He's the typical Nigerian public official--oozing corruption from every pore of his large frame, several sources have said in the past.
Yet Lawal has remained Nigeria's SGF.
Villa sources say he's one of the untouchables within Buhari's inner circle.
In October 2016, Lawal unashamedly admitted that he's a member of the cabal acting with impunity within the Buhari Presidency.
“I am honored to be a cabal in this presidency. I have no apologies to make,” Lawal snarled before the cameras.
"If the President decides that he wants a secretary to the government who is going to work with him, coordinate the activities of his government, who will give him advice, obviously that man should be able to have unfettered access to the President.
“He is supposed to be able to give advice to the president because he is with the president on a daily basis in a manner that others might not have,” he added.
Nigerians have every right to be worried that Buhari gets advice from characters like Lawal.
The President rode to power on the back of a promise to fight corruption. Yet Lawal has been getting away with graft allegations while dining with the President.
There are reports that the President is awaiting the report from the Attorney General (AG) Abubakar Malami, before taking action on Lawal.
A presidential statement of December 2016 said Lawal was being investigated for his alleged crimes and misappropriation of public funds.
“The attention of the presidency has been drawn to a number of reports in the media, in which various accusations of corruption have been levelled against some top officials in the administration,” the President's spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said in a statement.
“In that regard, President Buhari has instructed the Attorney General of the Federation to investigate the involvement of any top government officials accused of any wrong-doing. If any of them are liable, they will not escape prosecution.”
If Lawal is under investigation by the AG, wouldn't it be proper to suspend him pending the outcome of said investigation?
Why allow a man reeking of corruption to continue to serve within the inner courts of a President who claims he detests graft?
Lawal should be suspended and if found guilty for his crimes, sacked without further delay. It's just the right thing to do.