By Olulana Alofe

We are now getting alternate versions of circumstances that precipitated the exposure of a ‘NIA operated flat’ used to store funds. To start with, let us go with the premise that the NIA did not brief President Buhari on funds kept for some ‘covert operation’ authorized by the Jonathan administration.

I want to get a few things out of the way. People should stop analyzing this from the perspective of defending the Buhari administration as it is not helping Nigeria if they have that mindset about what goes on in our dear country.

The government messed up big time on this any which way you swing it because of a failure to do what it should have done.

Goodluck Jonathan is not culpable in this at all in my opinion. If his administration did not pass over information about funds of that magnitude it approved to PMB’s administration during the handover, that is only a minor issue because NIA ought to have briefed the president. Mr Ayodele Oke, the Director-General of NIA, appointed by Jonathan in November 2013 and retained by Buhari has so many questions to answer. He must be sweating right now wherever he is.

TWO YEARS are for all intents and purposes in the bag! Why did PMB’s administration not figure out that amount of money was missing? What we need to know really from GEJ is if indeed he approved the operation. That should be the starting point because we must figure out if the GEJ administration is being set up as a patsy or not. Questions about Jonathan’s rationale for approving such an operation for the NIA are extraneous to this scandal.

If it was approved by the GEJ administration in 2014 as is being claimed, CBN must have doled it out. Are there no records of funds being transferred? Once PMB’s administration started trying to plug loopholes, why was this ‘funding for covert operations in care of the NIA’ not asked about?

Again, TWO YEARS? We should be upset at the breakdown of simple accounting procedures which ought to have exposed ‘missing money’ of this nature from the government’s coffers if this claim that the presidency did not know about it is true. CBN has a lot of questions to answer!

A cover-up on this case which is worse than the original crime will simply evaporate any ounce of credibility left in the Buhari administration. The NIA is Nigeria’s international security agency. Why would it be operating within Nigeria with safe houses to store funds? I read that the government has denied that and called it a “cock and bull” story. If some of its officers including the DG diverted funds and kept them for whatever purpose, why was it not discovered sooner? There were no audits of the agency considering the War Against

Corruption and all we know about what transpired during the last administration? One would expect PMB’s administration to look under every stone. Actually, that is what it told us was happening the first few months when it appeared to us as if nothing was going on.

Right now, it appears EFCC should be applauded for refusing to back down when Mr Ayodele Oke asked it to (as we have read in several media reports), claiming whatever he said was in the apartment as belonging to the NIA. There is still a lot of smoke surrounding this situation but we must be vigilant so no one blows that smoke in our eyes. Who assumes there are no other “safe houses” like this one around Nigeria? How much money is lying around?

If PMB’s administration had a process where a spokesman briefed the press and could be asked questions, it would help put and end to unnecessary speculation and aid in unravelling the truth. I do not subscribe to us leaving it to the government to tell us what happened without the investigative press asking invasive questions. Governments naturally want to cover-up!

Discussions on this situation should not be about defending the Buhari administration. Let it defend itself. I believe we should be very sceptical actually and double check anything we are told. Right now we need to know what happened exactly and that will determine how we perceive PMB’s administration henceforth. For those of us who have been functioning based on trust and hope beyond absolute evidence that this administration is getting things right, this is a watershed moment.

Let explanations continue to flow. We are waiting to shift through them with fine mesh nets! The truth will set Nigerians free.

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