Buhari Rejects Saraki’s Moves To Neutralize His Anti-Corruption Adviser, Prof. Itse Sagay
Prof. Itse Sagay, the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC), has the full support and trust of President Muhammadu Buhari in his face-off with the Senate and some members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), sources in the presidency have told SaharaReporters. The reassurance comes against the background of an onslaught on the PACAC chairman by the APC spokesperson, Alhaji Bolaji Abdullahi.
Prof. Itse Sagay, the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC), has the full support and trust of President Muhammadu Buhari in his face-off with the Senate and some members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), sources in the presidency have told SaharaReporters.
The reassurance comes against the background of an onslaught on the PACAC chairman by the APC spokesperson, Alhaji Bolaji Abdullahi.
Sagay, a renowned professor of law and civil rights activist, recently described members of the National Assembly as overpaid, saying they claim bogus allowances and salaries that could instead be used to fix the country’s infrastructure.
In a separate comment, he described some persons in the leadership of the ruling APC as “the most unprincipled group of people,” adding they are “encouraging and accepting rogues.”
In response, Abdullah described Sagay as a ‘rogue elephant’.
Prof. Itse Sagay
Abdullahi’s attacks are said to be causing irritation to the Presidency, where the President Buhari is said to be concerned that the party machinery is being used to antagonize one of the respectable voices of his anti-corruption efforts.
The sources said the Presidency is well aware that the attack on Sagay coming from Abdullahi is the direct handiwork of Senate President Bukola Saraki, who single-handedly paved the way for the emergence of Abdullahi as the APC spokesman by offering some of the party leaders the option of funding the party’s publicity.
Describing the criticisms of Sagay’s position by the Senate President as a witch-hunt, another source said that Saraki is not only trying to antagonize the professor of law, but also trying to shame him and embarrass the President by frustrating the anti-corruption drive of the Buhari administration which has him being prosecuted for alleged corrupt practices.
Another source in the presidency also said the recent backlash was connected to Sagay’s past comments on Saraki, adding that Saraki and his loyalists have not forgiven Sagay because he kicked against Saraki’s acquittal by the Code of Conduct Tribunal earlier this year. Sagay was shocked by the CCT ruling and urged the Federal Government to appeal the ruling.
Top government sources also disclosed yesterday that prior to the latest developments, there have been muffled voices within the party that party leaders allowed Abdullahi, a known Saraki acolyte, to take up such a sensitive position in the party.
Also, other top party officials and the presidency have expressed concern that the APC spokesman only becomes active when Saraki’s interest are concerned.
Said an Aso Rock source: “How many times have you heard him speak up to defend the government, or take up issues in the public space in favor of the government? But when something that affects his benefactor is on, then he suddenly remembers he is the spokesman.”
It is said that the recent outburst of the spokesman against Sagay was not a result of any wide consultation but a ploy to get President Buhari to neutralize the respected professor. “What they don’t know is that the President has deep regard for Sagay and is very much irritated by Abdullahi’s statement attacking a senior Nigerian.”
“This is corruption fighting back,” a presidency source said. “The members know that Sagay’s recent comments have increased the searchlight on their activities by anti-corruption agencies. Some of them are already scared because Sagay’s comments have made Nigerians to start asking questions.”
People close to Sagay say he remains unruffled by the criticisms that have trailed his comments, especially from members of the National Assembly.
President Buhari appointed Sagay in August 2015 as head of PACAC. Since his appointment, Sagay has been one of the most vocal supporters of Buhari and the administration’s anti-corruption fight.