#Buharigate #Dasukigate: The meaning behind the ‘gate’

Currently #Dasukigate and #Buharigate are hot topics in Nigeria on and off both traditional and social media. Colonel Sambo Dasuki, the former National Security Adviser to past President Goodluck Jonathan, has been trending for over a month for his involvement in a $2.2 billion arms deal fraud which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is currently investigating.

As events unfolded, Dasuki gave up names of alleged acomplices in the arms deal controversy including Raymond Dokpesi, owner of DAAR Communications, Attahiru Bafarawa, former governor of Sokoto state, Shuaibu Salisu, former Director of Finance in the Office of the National Security Adviser, and recently, President Muhammad Buhari has been implicated for accepting a gift of two Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) from former President Jonathan. This revelation birthed the hashtag – Buharigate.

But where does the term ‘gate’ come from, and why is it associated with every major political scandal?

Prior to 1972, “Watergate” was known as a luxurious apartment complex in Washington, D.C. But in the summer of that year, it became associated with one of the greatest political scandal in history.

At the wee hours of June 17, 1972, five burglars dressed in business suits and latex gloves, were arrested inside the office of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), located in the Watergate complex. The men had been according to some, wiretapping phones and stealing important documents. It was later discovered that the burglars were connected to President Richard Nixon, then president of the United States.

While it is not clear whether or not President Nixon knew about the espionage operation before it happened, his reaction was implausible. Nixon took steps to cover up the operation afterwards as was revealed in a recorded conversation, which later became known as the smoking gun. Nixon paid the burglars to keep quiet, and tried to stop the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from investigating the crime. He also destroyed evidences, and fired uncooperative staff members.

But after about two years of mounting evidences against President Nixon, series of court battles, along with the testimonies of his former staffs, his complicity in the Watergate crime was undeniable. Though Nixon never admitted to any wrongdoing, and even famously said, “I am not a crook” at some point in time, the Supreme Court ordered him to turn over tapes of secretly recorded conversations.

With Nixon’s previously strongest supporters in Congress against him, and possible impeachment from the Senate for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, criminal cover-up and several violations of the Constitution, he resigned on the 8th of August 1974 in a nationally televised address. Giving his address, he said, “By taking this action, I hope that I will have hastened the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.”

The Watergate scandal greatly affected American politics, and left a huge impression on the global scene creating the politically infamous ‘gate- suffix. Other examples? Contragate/Iran-gate, Monicagate, Diezanigate, Oduahgate, Whitewatergate, and now, Dasukigate and Buharigate.

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