The controversy over the purchase of jets purportedly to fight Boko Haram insurgents by the Federal government from the United states of American came to a head recently when President Buhari was forced to cut short his trip amid tension in the National Assembly over abuse of due process. Already the Senate has been under tension since the Senator Omo-Agege saga, when the Mace was taken way in broad daylight withing the senate chambers during plenary. Fingers are being pointed towards the presidency, because of the ease with which the so called thugs beat all security apparatus of the National Assembly.
Indications are that the money has been approved by the president before he traveled to the United kingdom for the conference of Commonwealth head of governments, CHOGM, instructing that it be withdrawn from the Excess Crude account, The money has been already withdrawn, according to presidential sources-though there appears to be discordant tones on whether it has finally been paid to the Pentagon. While Mansur Dan Ali, the Minister of defense, said the fund has been approved, presidential Aid Ita Enang said it has not been approved, though it appears Ita Enang had to put up the defense for the benefit of the senate. Senate President Bukola Saraki is said to have been livid over the issue. “This is an impeachable offence. Unfortunately, we have a senate that always compromises due to pecuniary interest”, a source told this Magazine from the red chambers.
It will be recalled that negotiations for the purchase of the aircraft ran into hitches when the US government insisted that the federal government must pay for the purchase before end of February 2018, but only agreed to deliver the goods in 2020, when Buhari must have been out of office. Analysts believe that they are leaving a window of escape if President Buhari wins a second term, in which case they will call for renegotiation. They have hinged their refusal to authorize immediate release of the planes on Human right reports which tends to point to misuse of military might on soft targets. Not too long ago, the Air-force bombed the Internally displaced peoples camp. Though the Military high command has described the mishap as an error, no news of court marshal or reprimand of officers involved was heard.
It was after the approval of the fund that the presidency wrote National Assembly asking for approval to pay the money, justifying their action by saying that the request came with a deadline that they had to meet, hence the approvals before sending the request to the Senate. That it presupposes that the National Assembly will rubber stamp the approval did not trouble them. The Military high command had rejected the condition given by the American government, saying it was not acceptable. Now the presidency is paying.
Analysts insisted that the presidency was doing that to lease the US government in view of the recent invitation of extended from the White House to President Buhari. Although the British Prime Minister Theresa May is sitting on the Fence on the issue of Buhari second term, She has tactically given him the condition for her support: The abrogation of the anti-Gay Law. In that he has an ally in the American President Donald Trump, who at the same time may frown at the activities of Fulani Herdsmen.
The current tension within the National Assembly due to the alleged presidential backing Senator Omo Agege may rub off on the Purchase. The presidency takes it seriously enough for Buhari to cut short his trip. That he sought to include the appropriation in the 2018 budget which the National Assembly is yet to deal with does not help matters. The Lower house, Led by Yakubu Dogara, is miffed about it, worried about the arm-twisting method of the presidency. They were forced to abandon quest for the reversal of election time table after the shocking mace scandal of the senate.