Hameed Ali, WAI and the Untouchables

Recall President Buhari’s administration re-launched the notorious War Against Indiscipline (WAI) which the 1983–85 Buhari/Idiagbon administration relied on to correct civil disobedience. We are told how Nigerians were forced to form queues, flogged and given demeaning punishments for misbehaving. This is a government that launched a campaign last year tagged #ChangeBeginsWithMe in consonance with WAI through the National Orientation Agency and Federal Ministry of Information and Culture spearheading the campaign for Nigerians to embrace change, observe their civic responsibilities and shun all vices and acts of corruption.

The imbroglio between Nigerian Custom controller general (CG) Hameed Ali and the Nigerian Senate has exposed Buhari’s administration as a “do as I say” but not “do as I do”, amoral and hypocritic government. What is the bone of contention between the Customs and the Senate? The Senate is the higher law making body (the Upper House) of the National Assembly of Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) according to the 1999 Nigerian constitution as amended and they are the approving authority and clearing house for any minister or head of government agencies like customs and EFCC. Like the EFCC chairman ongoing face-off has revealed, the senate is not just a rubber stamp but can actually withhold its consent from any nominee of the president to assume substantive tenured position in any department or agency of the first tier of government. It is rather stupefying that some appointee cleared by the Senate that should consider themselves an employee of a big organisation is flouting the rules set maybe by for instance its governing board. The audacity of such ludicrous and egregious behaviour from a man who was appointed by a president who we were told in his first sojourn as president represented “ascetic discipline” is unpropitious. Instead what we see today is a man who reflects “military rigidity” as observed elsewhere. The later is not good for our democracy. In a sane country genuinely interested in progress, the president will summon Ali privately or openly and ask him to obey the senate and wear the customs uniform or resign. You’re heading a border control agency; you detest wearing its uniform. WHY THE HELL IN THE WORLD SHOULD YOU DESERVE TO HEAD THAT AGENCY? Are you bigger than that agency? Not even passion for that institution can change the unflinching decision?

Let us for once adduce reasons why Col Hameed Ali, the CG customs might throw tantrums at an institution of 109 representatives of the Nigerian people. I grew up fascinated by powerful societies like the Freemason, Illumunati, Ogboni, Italian Mafia, and Colombia Warlords and may other powerful secret societies that wield political power. In the process of getting acquainted with Nigerian politics, one of the most prominent clandestine informal groups that exist is the KADUNA MAFIA. In fact when I visited Kaduna in 2010, I was thrilled to see the city that has nurtured this notorious organisation that wields power over Nigeria and controls northern Nigeria. According to Wikipedia, Kaduna Mafia “is a name given to a loose group of young Northern Nigerian intellectuals, civil servants, business tycoons and military officers residing or conducting business in the former Northern capital city of Kaduna during the end of the first republic.” If anything like Northern supremacist exist, those children of Usman dan fodio that want to lord themselves over Nigeria perpetually, look no further from this group. The behaviour of Hameed Ali is a pointer that this group have once again ascended to power and they are untouchable. What is unrevealing before us is an act of insubordination and usurping of the powers of a constituted institution by a constituted authority that is subject to the institution. It is unbecoming that sane beings are trivializing the audacious and inciting act of Hameed Ali, ranting that wearing of uniform is a minor issue that the senate should ignore. These same people in their irony also want obedience of laws of the land. Imagine if it’s GEJ that appointed a Hameed Ali that refuses to wear customs uniform on order of the Senate. They will be screaming blue murder! Ninety-nine of Nigerians will gladly wear Customs uniform with pride as its CG but the twat Ali that feels that he’s untouchable can’t wear it.

Now in this kind of situation, the president should have cautioned him privately, then quietly, he could have worn that uniform, appeared before the senate, even use the opportunity to drum up support for the #ChangeBeginsWithMe campaign and that this is truly a government of change that is poised to lead from the front and lead by example. However, there is an adage in Igbo which says that “the death that will kill a dog won’t allow it smell faeces”; that is to say, something that may take its attention away from where it is heading and delay its death will never catch its attention. When many of us evaluate and arrive at failure for Buhari’s administration, we do not do so because we hate the man as a person, but because the premises upon which good governance emanates are lacking. Hameed Ali is setting a dangerous precedent, as we speak, he is supposed to attend senate’s summons Wednesday 22 March 2017 but has rushed to court via a proxy, I can’t confirm, but there’s a court case, to ensure he shuns the Senate invitation. Every bad thing has a good side; if not anything we learn a lesson. The Senate is already in motion to introduce a bill that will mandate that non-career persons won’t head government agencies and organisations. Maybe Hameed Ali is a blessing in disguise but the precedent he has set is a dangerous one until the bill is passed. There may be an implosion of disobedience of the orders of the Senate. But if the Senate has its mojo, they should know that they can order the arrest of anyone except those that have immunity in Nigeria. They can order the arrest of Hameed Ali. They can go further to pass a resolution that the president should sack him. Hameed Ali has chosen a fight he cannot win. He cannot subjugate the Nigerian Senate. He has to be curtailed. If APC and Buhari actually mean well for Nigeria, they should call him to order or he will be one of their albatrosses as we approach 2019.

Team Member, Core Programmers at Union Bank of Nigeria.