Nigeria’s President Buhari, left and his Chief Minister and ally, Babachir David Lawal
WEST AFRICA–– Corruption is Africa’s single most serious self-inflicted wound. With vast amount of natural and human resources, several countries in Africa, including oil-rich Nigeria that has vast human capacity and potential could be self-sustaining and variant, but corruption poses a serious challenge.
As Nigeria’s determined former general, ex-military dictator and born again democratic President Muhammadu Buhari seeks to stamp out waste and fraud as well as pursue past government officials for pocketing billions of dollars from the public coffers into their personal savings, some of key supporters and confidantes are engaged in the very acts of corruption that their leader campaigned on and promised Nigerians he would stop.
According to a report authored by a committee of the country’s senate, it detailed how companies that obtained contracts for projects including the weeding from a government body overseen by one of the president’s closest official, Babachir Lawal, wired a total of 500 million naira (worth around $2.2 million) to the firm he (Lawal) set up.
Globe Afrique has learned that Babachir David Lawal who is the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) has ownership in a company known as Global Vision Ltd. that is benefiting or rewarded federal contracts at a fast track with no result as follow:
- Global Vision Ltd., a company owned by Buhari’s SGF, Babachir Lawal was indicted by the Nigerian Senate for allegedly benefiting from inflated and phantom contracts – or ones not executed at all – awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North East, PINE.2. Global Vision Ltd., owned by Buhari’s SGF, Babachir Lawal allegedly got over N200 million contract to clear GRASS in Yobe State IDP camp.3. Global Vision Ltd. was incorporated in 1990 to carry out ICT services; but it allegedly contract to clear grass in 2016.4. As at March 2016 that the contract was awarded to Global Vision Ltd, Babachir Lawal ‘was still the director of the company. He only resigned in September 2016’.5. According to the Senate report, Babachir Lawal is still the signatory to the account of Global Vision Ltd.
The 62 years Lawal is a staunch ally of President Muhammadu Buhari and one of his first major appointments in government when he won the Nigerian election, defeating ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
Although in a written statement responding to Reuters’ questions, Lawal denied wrongdoing, suggesting he is a victim of a Senate witch-hunt, sources say there are instances of corruption in some areas of the Buhari’s administration.
Political analysts and commentators say these allegations undermines Buhari’s stance as credible to address corruption in public service in Nigeria. Buhari, who despite his vows to fight corruption, has won no conviction for any major public figures so far.
Boko Haram, who have killed around 20,000 people since 2009, have been pushed back in some areas yet continue to launch attacks, while millions of people in the northeast rely on some form of aid.
The irony of the Buhari’s administration corruption orbit is the nature of it. In a country where millions of people in its northeast region experience excruciating hunger and sustained attacks by Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group, the Nigerian government under Buhari, a self-declared anti-corruption campaigner has permitted his administration to spend US$1.4 million dollars cutting down weeds around the village of Wachakal in order to stop flooding only for the contract to cut down the weeds to end up with a company founded and owned by Lawal, a senior government official, key ally and support of the president.
Some Nigerians as well as international figures with interest in Africa’s issues say how can the Burhari’s government promise change and deliver concrete results when there is in-house schemes for graft and corruption among people closest to him?