By St Jude Ndukwe
This week has been mired in official scandals. From the purported secret employment by the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) involving some high-ranking government officials, to the president’s academic certificate saga, the alarming freezing of a sitting governor’s account without a court order as required by law, the complete northernisation of Nigeria’s security agencies as follows: Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, North; Minister of Defence, North; National Security Adviser, North; Chief of Army Staff, North; Director-General of Department of State Services (DSS), North; Comptroller-General of Customs, North; Comptroller-General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), North; Comptroller-General of Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS), North; Commandant General of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), North, and finally crowned it with the appointment of another northerner, Ibrahim Kpotum Idris as the inspector general of police; to the accusation and counter-accusation between Governor Peter Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and the presidency over the involvement of a certain Aisha Buhari in the Halliburton scandal that led to the conviction of a US Congressman, Williams Jefferson in 2009.
While Fayose had called the attention of the world to the involvement of the said Aisha Buhari in the Halliburton scandal as contained in a US Government Sentencing Memorandum from the US, the presidency has shown desperation in denying the issue by claiming, amidst very uncomplimentary language, that the Aisha Buhari referred to in the US document is not the president’s wife.
To further convince Nigerians about the true identity of the Aisha Buhari in question, a Nigerian international passport bearing the name Buhari, Aisha Mohammadu was hurriedly “packaged” and released to the public. However, on a closer look, it appears the said passport has only done more harm than good to the case of the presidency as it is replete with errors, too many coincidences and inconsistencies.
For example, it is too much a coincidence for the three names of two individuals to be the same as in this case even though the “Muhammadu” on the passport was spelt to read “Mohammadu” while the same individuals seem to hail from the same town of Daura as the president.
Also, it is absolutely impossible in our culture and Islamic religion for a woman’s given name to be “Mohammadu” as indicated in the passport making the rounds. The name “Mohammadu” or “Muhammadu” is usually associated with males and cannot be a name given to any female by anyone.
Furthermore, while the Halliburton scandal took place between 2000 and 2005, with Jefferson getting convicted in 2009, those who quickly made the passport did not put that into consideration as the passport’s date of issue reads January 2012, confirming fears in some quarters that the whole passport saga is an after-thought.
What this strange scenario has created is a lacuna that leaves Aisha Buhari, wife of the president, open and vulnerable to all manner of official ridicule and caricature as architects of such ridicule can always claim that they are referring to the other “Aisha Buhari” even when it is obvious that the person being referred to is actually the president’s wife. Suing for libel, slander and such other actions to claim redress of any kind becomes an exercise in futility as we now have two Aisha Buhari hailing from the same town in Nigeria.
This, then, leads us to the certificate saga of Mr President himself.
If it took less than 24 hours to quickly arrange an international passport, though replete with errors, to attempt to clear Aisha Buhari’s name, one would have expected the presidency to have also quickly produced the president’s academic certificate that has become a subject of endless controversies and judicial matter rather than take the arduous path and spend huge resources hiring high-profile Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) to defend the president in court when a flash of the certificate, if the president actually has one, would have put the matter to rest once and for all.
As a way of also resolving the matter, one is compelled to urge Aisha Buhari to travel to the US even if for just one minute. If she is not arrested by US authorities, Nigerians would be convinced indeed that the Aisha Buhari implicated in the Halliburton scandal is not the same as the one we all know and they would forever keep quiet.
Everyone is still wondering why she has not travelled to the US for some time now.
Another way the presidency can also help to douse the rising tension is to cause the visa pages of the passport in the media to be seen just like the image and details of the photo page were released to the public. This way, Nigerians would believe that this other Aisha Buhari has indeed been to America and that the passport was indeed issued in Washington as indicated.
This issue should not be seen or treated as “corruption fighting back” as the presidency is quick to always say whenever citizens fight for their rights even through legal means and court processes, it is just one Peter Ayodele Fayose, doing what the president is also doing in his certificate saga. When the president hires a retinue of very expensive lawyers to defend him in court and has gone on appeal on a very simple issue as just showing his certificate, it is not a deliberate attempt to delay justice nor is it meant to prolong the case unnecessarily nor is it corruption fighting back. But when a Dasuki, or a Metuh, or a Fani-Kayode does same, it is corruption fighting back. What a nation!
Finally, Nigerians are in very serious doubt about the authenticity of the international passport in the media, and rather than dissipate energy on trying to confuse Nigerians the more, President Muhammadu Buhari would do well, in his usual determination to fight corruption, to order a thorough investigation into this matter with a view to unraveling the true identity of the Aisha Buhari behind the Halliburton scandal so as to rest this knotty issue once and for all.
The search for truth has always remained man’s eternal quest. In the process, egos are bruised, status quo uprooted, processes disrupted and, sometimes, nature is affected. But in the end man is always satisfied and becomes idyllic until there is another truth to search for. Let us know this truth and allow justice take its course, anything short of this does an incalculable damage to the already doubtful fight against corruption by Mr. President!.