By Ogar Simeon
General Muhammadu Buhari’s win at the March 28 Presidential Election triggered a gale of defections from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC), which has prompted concerns among political watchers who reason that the rent seeker that ruined the nation in 16 years of PDP rule are already positioning themselves to ply their trade in the APC.
These defectors cut across all strata of political influence. Former governors, ex-federal lawmakers, their state counterparts and even politicians at local government level have ditched the former ruling party for the new bride. While Nigerians are rightly alarmed at the mass exodus of career politicians to the incoming ruling party, they have overlooked the real threat to Buhari’s presidency – seeming underdogs who were close to the jugular of the outgoing government.
Principal of such characters is Folake Itohan Oke Salami, the Executive Director Business Development of the Nigerian Export and Import (NEXIM) Bank. Salami is one of the adopted daughters of First Lady, Dame Patience Faka Jonathan, whose reign of terror and impunity at the specialized bank is set to continue as she jostles to find relevance in the incoming government.
Salami, who was appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan on December 4, 2011 on the strength of her relationship with Patience Jonathan, has been severally linked with sordid details at NEXIM but the administration’s stance on corruption allowed her to continue acting free. Added to her penchant for sleaze are her rude character, arrogance and unprofessional conduct as she is always meddling in politics instead of her core area of mandate.
Drawing inspiration from disgraced former Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah who did something similar in the past and was clearly rewarded and became President Jonathan’s shadow, the NEXIM Bank executive director wanted to take over NEXIM Bank in grand style to be able to award contracts to herself and family members. But this time the permutation did not work out.
Salami is reportedly trying to win the heart of the APC leadership by pilling pressure on a former PDP chieftain who recently decamped to the APC in the North Central. While her original mission of approaching the party chieftain is to negotiate a soft landing under the Buhari government, the sympathetic reception she got from the politician has certainly emboldened her to become more ambitious.
She is said to also be angling to become the replacement for the incumbent Executive Director of NEXIM, Roberts Orya, who despite his sterling reputation and performance was already penciled for a sack over his refusal to funnel cash to the Jonathan’s campaign. His sack letter was already written and was on the table of the Secretary to the Federal Government had Jonathan been re-elected.
Mrs. Itohan, who has a history of back stabbing, came into NEXIM with a set goal, to amass illicit wealth and power. This singular goal was so blinding that she could not hide her ambition and resultantly even had to go as cheap as pay the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), and other numerous media houses to announce her appointment as Managing Director instead of Executive Director as appointed, thus causing grave embarrassment to the bank’s corporate image.
When this plot did not work, Mrs. Salami in her malevolence, decided to polarise the staff of the once unified establishment into factions. With those on her side and supporting her ambition to gain access to the bank’s cooking pot set against the loyal staff of the establishment, thereby causing organisational incoherence.
The height of this insubordination came when she had in 2014 set out a budget of six million naira to ensure the corporate image built by the hardwork and dedication of the leadership of the institution which led to disrepute, she set out paying for media campaigns and hiring faceless and nefarious groups to bring into disgrace, the good works of Robert Orya and his wonderful first tenure in office.
This involved money and phony inciting documents, which were judiciously served to the tune of three million Naira with a pending balance to a coalition of civil societies and persons including but not restricted to Nigerian United Against Corruption (NUAC), Bash Ali and a certain Senior Executive of the Conference for Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), one Mr. Willy Ezeugwu, who till date is engaged in a legal tussle with the bank.
This engagement like all others in her wake did not end well as the money promised the hatchet men was not delivered and has caused a hiatus which even caused the NUAC to write a petition stating these facts to the Central Bank of Nigeria.
This petition led to a panel of investigation to which these petitioners appeared and laid their complaints, unfortunately this ended an exercise in futility as it has been suppressed by powers claiming to have come from above. Sources within the establishment have revealed that the petitioners were able to prove their allegation beyond reasonable doubts and have also vowed to use all possible means to get their due.
The same way people blame Diezani for Jonathan’s failure, Folake’s with Patience Jonathan must have accounted for the failure of the last administration which should be a warning to General Buhari’s wife not to surround herself with those who can do anything including sleeping with anybody just to get a government appointment.” The source said.
The concern is not unconnected with Salami’s link to other persons known as henchpersons of the administration. She boasts of connections that include controversial Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke; NIMASA’s Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi and Kennedy Opara of Christian Pilgrim Welfare Commission.
There were indications that Salami may also be acting to test the waters on behalf of these others to see how they can use the remainder of their tenure to entrench themselves in the incoming government.
Alison-Madueke, who was recently sighted donning hijab as she traversed the northern parts of the country, is known to also be intensely pressuring northern leaders to beg Buhari for a soft landing.
Opara, on his part is running from one Christian leader to the other appealing to them to again play the religion card as he is said to be worried about the consequences of the billions of naira fraudulently funneled to him for the elections.
Reports that earlier filled the air that Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi had fled the country turned out to be hoaxes but investigations revealed that the NIMASA strongman with strong ties to ex-militants in the Niger Delta has perfected travel plans to two countries that do not have extradition treaties with Nigeria.
Salami’s desperation may not be unconnected with the questionable roles she played during and even after the election. Her hatchet job for the incumbent presidency included sourcing of the Indian clairvoyants that consulted for Patience Jonathan, even as she was at the helms of mobilizing people to protest INEC’s declaration of General Buhari as the winner of the election before President Jonathan called the president elect to congratulate him.
Prior to the election, Salami was in charge of tasking female Directors-General and Executive Secretaries of federal government agencies and parastatals to skim funds under their jurisdiction for the Jonathan campaign.
With the recent pronouncement by the president-elect, to constitute an integrity committee to ensure all persons appointed into positions of authority in this administration are upstanding and people of unquestionable integrity headed by Pastor Tunde Bakare, it is pertinent to inform the world and indeed this committee of sheep in wolves clothing like Mrs. Itohan who has already taken mice-like moves to derail a well set out regime. This change that has blown unilaterally across the nation was hard earned and should not be soiled by mindless, self-serving elements. Unless these are fished out, corruption like a canker-worm shall continue to pervade our economic fabric.
Ogar O. Simeon wrote in from Abuja.
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