SUCCESS, they say, has many fathers but failure is an orphan. That aptly captures the way people naturally mill around and identify with big men in Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari, despite his tough visage and disciplinarian mien, is not an exemption. It is true that at his inauguration ceremony on May 29, 2015, he declared that “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody,” but events have so far showed that he belongs to some people, in a manner of speaking.
June 2015 shortly after he was inaugurated, President Muhammadu Buhari travelled to South Africa and used the opportunity to meet with Nigerians resident in that country. He had confessed “I wish I became Head of State when I was a governor. Now at 72, there is a limit to what I can do”.
So far can one conclude he has found able lieutenants that have successfully covered his limitations imposed by age? One of his kitchen cabinet members is said not to believe in Economic Team, and is trying to employ same tactics he used in frustrating deceased President Umaru Yar’Adua’s Economic team then. Many have criticized his kitchen cabinet for being ineffective, clueless, uncoordinated and embarking on ego-trip buoyed by mutual suspicion.
But who are the real members of his kitchen cabinet? Below, we unveil the masks to reveal the big masquerades who pull the lever of power inside Aso Rock.
President Buhari has always criticized the office of the First Lady insisting that it is not constitutional. Not even Mrs. Aisha Buhari’s preference to be addressed as ‘Wife of the President’, has dimmed her powers in the present administration. The calibre of people who turned up during the presentation of her books, ‘The Essentials of Beauty Therapy. A Complete Guide for Beauty Specialists’, and her selected speeches titled, ‘Matching Words with Action’, only confirms how influential she is in her husband’s administration. To ensure wives of the governors, especially those whose husbands were elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress were loyal to her, in January, she restructured the Nigerian Governors’ Wives Forum along geopolitical lines. During a meeting held at the First Lady’s Conference Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja all the 36 governors’ wives were present.
Under her, the forum was divided into the Northern Governors Wives Forum headed by Zamfara State governor’s wife, Asma’u Abdul’aziz Yari and the Southern Governors’ Wives Forum headed by Imo State governor’s wife, Nneoma Nkechi Okorocha.
Like her predecessors in office, she has a pet project, ‘Future Assured’, with the aim of empowering women and children. Many believe she can make things happen in her stringent husband’s administration and she has continued to play host to eminent individuals who desire one favour or the other from Mr. President. Aisha Buhai is highly influential in this government. The only difference between her and her predecessors is that she does not flaunt it or throw herself into the public space ahead of her husband. She has cultivated a cultured disposition.
Mamman Daura is President Buhari’s nephew. If you consider him the Defacto vice president you won’t be wrong. So influential is he that those in the corridor of power say he has inputs in many of Buhari’s major decisions including appointments of ministers, aides and other political appointments.
Both Daura and Buhari aside being relatives, belong to a group called “Kaduna Mafia” which was a group of young Northern Nigerian intellectuals, civil servants, business tycoons and military officers residing or conducting business in the former Northern capital city of Kaduna during the end of the First Republic.
The group was said to have thrived on a network of power alliances among northern aristocrats and government sympathisers who favoured the group’s pro-northern and Islamic bent. Other famous members of the group were Adamu Ciroma, Ibrahim Tahir, Mahmud Tukur and Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. Mamman Duara is a powerful backroom figure. He is a regular feature in the Presidency and he is privy to most important decisions of Mr. President.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo by virtue of his position has been handed down everything that has to do with the nation’s economy to run. Like in the days of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar under Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, Osinbajo is solely responsible for the economy. He presides over all economic matters, initiating and coordinating economic policies implemented by the administration apart from his constitutional role as the chairman of the National Economic Council, NEC.
Recall during 1983 and 1985, when Buhari was the military head of state, the duty of running of the state was done by his second-in-command, the late General Tunde Idiagbon.
The vice president interacts with the private sector more than the president and holds various meetings with them. He also represents the president in most local and a few foreign engagements.
He it was who put up the economic team which includes ministers of Budget and National Planning and Finance, the Director General of Budget, the Central Bank Governor as well as selected private sector individuals among others with whom they meet from time to time. He is also overseeing the social investment programme of government as well as the rehabilitation of the north east.
Alhaji Abba Kyari
The Chief of Staff, Alhaji Abba Kyari, is Buhari’s bosom friend. When he swore in ministers in November 2015, he informed them expressly that they would go through the Chief of Staff, except when the issues at stake absolutely requires his personal attention would he be approached directly.
Kyari from Borno State, is a lawyer, banker, sociologist and a former editor. The office of the Chief of Staff is held in high esteem as it is the clearing house for all correspondences and requests for appointments. He determines who sees the president or what gets to the president, including those who accompany the president on official trips, except the president makes specific demands to see somebody.
Being a trusted childhood friend of the president, Kyari wields enormous powers, he is always seen holding unto files tenaciously, frequenting the President’s office severally in a day. He is clearly the man closest to the President. His access to the President is unfettered and his also trusted by his boss. If there is any man that gets the good ears of Mr. President at all times, it is Mr. Kyari. His multi-disciplinary background and job experience in the media and banking communities makes him a very knowledgeable man. This grossly rubs off on his profile in Aso Rock and in the estimation of the President. He is not only respected among the appointees of Mr. President. He is also feared. As far as the present Presidency is concerned, Kyari can do no wrong. Recently, he was accused of being involved in some shady deals but those close to him dismissed the allegations as baseless and a cheap blackmail by persons who are not comfortable with his closeness to Mr. President.
Babachir David Lawal
Another trusted ally and old friend of the President is the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal. His office is responsible for ensuring the effective coordination and monitoring of the implementation of government policies and programmes for the overall development of Nigeria. He also serves as secretary to the Council of State, the Federal Executive Council and other constitutional councils, which are chaired by the President.
His duties are over 15, hence he is always in the Presidential Villa with files needing the president’s attention. He has been accused of demanding gratification to file up the several boards appointment still pending. In spite of that, he continues to enjoy the good company of Mr. President. However, impeccable sources say he is under watch.
Mallam Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure, is the State Chief of Protocol (SCOP). A career foreign service official, he served as a special assistant (Presidential Matters) before his appointment as SCOP. He plans and executes detailed programmes for foreign leaders visiting the president alongside relevant agencies.
He accompanies the president on all official visits abroad, coordinates planning with the State House advance office, and makes arrangements for, and accompanies delegations on foreign trips, among others.
Another member of the kitchen cabinet is the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura. He is also the President’s close friend. He was said to be behind the recent rift between his office and that of the National Security Adviser.
He is alleged not to be attending security meetings summoned by the NSA, seeing him as too junior to convene such meetings even though Brig. Gen. Mungonu (rtd), the NSA is supposed to be the rallying point of all security matters and activities in the country.
Daura is one of the most trusted appointees of the President and he enjoys unrestrained access to him. Besides, because of his closeness to the President, many prominent Nigerians including political appointees of the same government go through to see the President. Daura is well respected in the Presidency and his closeness to Mr. Buhari is well known among Presidential aides and on account of that he gets what he wants with dispatch. He is closer to the President than the NSA.
The Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, is another close confident of Mr. President. He frequents the Presidential Villa and he is a regular face at key functions of the Federal Government.
He is said to enjoy express audience with the President as protocols are often waived for him. He is said to have influenced some appointments among them the appointment of Prof. Umaru Danbatta as the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive of the Nigerian Communications Commission, the appointment of the Chairman of Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Ahmed.
Another appointment that El-Rufai reportedly influenced was that of Aliyu Aziz as the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the National Identity Management Commission. Aziz was Deputy Director, Information Technology at the Bureau of Public Enterprises when El-Rufai was the bureau’s Director-General. When he became the Minister of the Federal Capital, El-Rufai also appointed Aziz as his Information Technology Adviser.
Those who accuse the President of being an ethnic bigot may find his closeness to the Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, very strange. They have been close friends since their days in the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party. So close are they that it is said Buhari passes the nights in Amosun’s houses in Lagos and Abeokuta.
Before Buhari became president, Amosun was said to be the person who drove him around whenever he visited Lagos. He influenced the appointment of Mrs. Kemi Adesoun as Minister of Finance. Adeosun who served as Amosun’s Commissioner of Finance in his first term had already been nominated and confirmed by the State House of Assembly as a commissioner for a second term before Amosun pushed her forward. He is also a frequent visitor to the Presidential Villa, holding talks with Buhari on a regular basis.
The respected elder statesman and a retired Army General, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, is a man of influence no doubt and it is not surprising he is one of those who have the President’s ears. The Taraba State politician and an oil magnate, was one of those who bankrolled Buhari’s election that brought him to power today. The appointment of Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, as the then Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and Minister of State, Petroleum Resources was said to be influenced by him.
Ismaila Isa Funtua is the Chairman of the popular Bulet International Construction Company. Though he does not hold any political office, he has been seen on the delegation of the President on some of his foreign trips. He is said to be a personal friend of the President. A highly respected Fellow of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Funtua is fast gaining a strong foothold in Aso Rock even though he is not a cabinet member.
Culled from Political Economist
— Sep 13, 2016 @ 15:20 GMT