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Why President Buhari did the right with resubmitting Magu’s name to the Senate

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Editor’s note: The Senate on December 15, Thursday, rejected the presidency’s nomination of Ibrahim Magu as the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The rejection raises questions on the acceptability of President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-graft war using Magu, particularly as the ruling party failed to pull through the screening despite its majority in the Senate.

In his latest piece, Uche Ugboajah, the NAIJ.com guest contributor, explains why President Muhammadu Buhari did the right thing for representing Magu’s name to the Senate for confirmation for the second time.

The news that President Muhammadu Buhari has resubmitted the name of Ibrahim Magu to the Senate for confirmation as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is indeed a very cheery one. This is because the presidency has not only done the right thing but is also the beginning to understand the logic and the doctrines of presidential power in a democracy.

The Acting EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu at the Senate

It all started with the forwarding of Magu’s name to the Senate for confirmation in June 2016 by the presidency. The Senate kept the letter and sat on it for as many months and would only consider it in December when it felt good and ready in spite of the pressures from all quarters of the Nigerian society calling for Magu’s confirmation.

Not even the EFCC Chairman’s spectacular performance in the short period of his acting capacity would spur the Senate into doing the needful over the matter. And when it finally decided to act, the upper legislative house refused to screen the EFCC Chairman, citing a security report from the DSS as an impediment.

But in what was clearly known as a rigging of its own procedures, the Senate through its spokesperson, Abdulahi Sabi, announced that they had rejected a man that never appeared before them and who they never screened!

Perhaps, one can exonerate the Senate from the shenanigans that have become the confirmation politics of Magu given that the DSS that wrote the infamous “Report” is under the presidency.

Yet, how can one explain the fact that the attempt of Senator Ndume to clarify the Senate position has already cost him his office as Senate Leader? Ndume stepped out to say his afternoon prayers and before God could answer him; his colleagues with the speed of light toppled him for daring to canvass for fair play in the Magu’s matter.

Well, President Buhari knew the perception that his administration will succeed or fail depending on how successful the anti-corruption war his government is waging turns out, decided to intervene and got his Attorney General to investigate the matter, especially the DSS allegations against Magu, and report back to him.

With the re-submission of the name of Magu to the Senate by the President, it is evidently clear that the AGF found all the allegations against Magu unfounded and reeking of pettiness, prejudice and vendetta and therefore rightly advised the president to re-forward the name of the EFCC Chairman for confirmation. Was this the right thing to do?

As one of the critics of the Buhari’s government, I would have reserved the harshest words for Mr President, had he caved in to the intrigues of the Senate in conniving with one of the security agencies under the presidency to abridge the powers freely given to him by the Nigerian people, whose president he is. It is important to note that of all the elected officials in the country, including members of the Senate, Mr. President is the only person who has a nation-wide mandate.

What this means is that it is only Mr. President who has the entire Nigeria as his constituency, whereas others including senators only have limited constituencies. That being the case, Mr. President is the only person who can make a call over and above every other persons’ head, be they senators or governors.

It is only Mr President who can truly speak in the best interest of all Nigerian citizens. He has the mandate of the Nigerian people to make any decision which in his view is in the best interest of all Nigerians. And this is because, the logic of presidential powers rightly assumes that the President is in a vantage position more than anyone else to know what is right for his country. The appointment of Magu as the EFCC chairman is one of such decisions.

It must be noted that Mr President had identified fighting corruption as the centrepiece of the policy of his government. And in pursuing that policy, he has equally identified Mr. Magu as the officer he needs to head the EFCC, the major arm for the anti-corruption war.

By refusing to screen and clear Magu, the Senate are clearly abridging the rights and powers of Mr. President as the chief executive officer and the only one with nationwide mandate to govern, and in the process, will be cheating the Nigerian people of the well-intentioned decision of Mr. President. This cannot be allowed to stand! It is against the Constitution! It is against the doctrine of presidential power!

As reported in the newspapers recently, if the Senate is still insisting on that DSS report in dealing with the confirmation of Magu even after the President had explained to them that he has cleared Magu of all those false allegations, it means that they are yet to understand comprehensively the powers of a president in our type of democracy.

Is the DSS superior to the President? If the Senate is not satisfied with the President’s clarifications, they are at liberty to call for the sack of the leadership of the DSS for misleading them. Yet the Senate must not make the mistake of over hyping a hate report feeding off an inter-agency rivalry and competition, as well as a morbid fear of Mr. Magu. It has been in the public domain that the leadership of the DSS and some powers that be in the presidency have a no-love-lost relationship with Magu. One of the suggestions of the said report was that Mr. Magu lives an ostentatious lifestyle.

 

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