Reports inside the nation’s seat of power, Aso Rock, have often times, in the last three years revealed the existence of an alleged cabal within President Muhammadu Buhari’s government. Obviously, this may be responsible for what the President of the Senate Dr. Bukola Saraki recently referred to as ‘a government within a government.’
Saraki, during one of his trials at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, also alleged that a powerful cabal within the President Buhari’s government had hijacked power from the retired general.
The Senate President is not alone in the category of prominent Nigerians who think so. The governor of Sokoto State Aminu Tambuwal also believes that due to what he considers as the President’s health challenge, Buhari is being held captive by some few powerful individuals running the affairs of state for their personal interest.
This is not different from the views of other Nigerians who at some point, also had cause to doubt whether President Buhari himself, was in charge of the Ship of State, or whether he has the true picture of what actually goes on in the inner circles of power, especially during those days of his frequent travels to London, United Kingdom (UK).
It was the same period when the President’s wife herself, in an interview with the BBC Hausa Service, warned that supporting her husband in the 2019 election would only rest on his readiness to shake-up the government. That shake-up, however, never saw the light of day.
Indeed, the idea of certain appointees in the present government being untouchable, un-questionable or too powerful to be sanctioned had been a myth for a very long time.
But, what really is a cabal? It is a small group of people united in some close design, usually to promote their private views of or interests in an ideology, state, or other community, often by intrigue and usually unbeknownst to those outside their group.
There can be no denying the fact that a few ministers and aides of President Buhari, actually exert high level of influence in the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government. These appointees have the ears of the President and indeed can make things happen. Those who allegedly fall within this category are the Chief of Staff to the President Abba Kyari, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, National Security Adviser (NSA) General Babagana Monguno, and the Minister of Education Adamu Adamu.
Others are the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu, Mama Daura who is the President’s cousin but operates at a powerful and unofficial level outside of government, as well as the ousted Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS) Lawal Daura. One of the powerful men, Babachir Lawal was also relieved of his appointment last year.
Despite the existence of these powerful individuals in the government, there appears to be a seemingly cordial relationship and strong mutual respect between President Buhari and his Vice, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. Those familiar with power play in Aso Rock agree that, were it not for this affinity, the Vice President would have since become a spare tyre like what obtains between most governors and their deputies in the states.
Obviously, this is why the recent sack of the DSS boss by Professor Osinbajo in his capacity as Acting President did not come without a surprise. For deployment of masked operatives to the National Assembly Complex without authorization, Daura lost his job.
The reaction that followed the news of the sack threw up the question from several quarters, which bordered on if, he really had indeed, sought the consent of his principal in far away London before taking the decision.
That Osinbajo could muscle the confidence to sack one of Buhari’s right hand men, is something which has since earned him accolades. It is certain too that this singular action may have sent a strong signal to the perceived cabal that unlike Buhari, the Acting President could bite further and indeed, very hard too, at will if necessary.
In fact, the National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, believes that President Buhari has been too soft with some of his appointees, a situation that has unnecessarily emboldened a few of them. These actions have the semblance of disregard for constituted authority.
It was such boldness that prompted the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir Lawal to question, ‘who is the presidency?’ The sacked former scribe of the Federal Government did not believe that journalists could be the ones to break the news of his sack to him. He was emerging from a closed-door meeting with Vice President Osinbajo at the presidential villa.
I am convinced that given the two major actions taken by Acting President Osinbajo – the sack of Daura and the directive to the IGP, Ibrahim Idris for immediate overhaul the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) which has since been complied with, clearly indicate that the Vice President cannot be taken for granted. An attempt to undermine the number one man by any member of a cabal could be suicidal.
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