By Lukman Olabiyi Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed October 16, to rule on whether or not to discharge a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA ), Patrick Akpobolokemi, who was charged with N2.6bn fraud. The court fixed the date Friday after hearing…
Politically, the atmosphere is becoming charged and very interesting. As would be expected by this time, barely two months to second anniversary of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, political gladiators are moving round the country trying to organize themselves. Some are even thinking of forming new political parties. What is happening with the main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is providing some citizens comic relief. Well, this is not the focus of today’s discourse; it got a mention because it is the prevailing climate under which our ailing president returned to the country and in the midst of these we wish he would be able to find time to rest.
But from the look of things it would appear the president is being denied the peace that would have provided him the right atmosphere to do his work. The task of governing a complex nation such as ours is enormous and yet he must necessarily find enough good time, devoid of tension and bickering, to rest and recuperate very quickly. Unfortunately in this instance, the source of the President’s troubles is not from his enemies or political opposition but rather from those that I would describe as “Philistines in the president’s camp.” Men who may or may not have been close to him, but nevertheless he recruited in the belief that their expertise and loyalty would prove invaluable in the onerous assignment of giving this nation first degree governance. Their activities and utterances are at variance with what the president stands for and very far from what Buhari’s original intent has been; if my knowledge of the Nigerian political order is anything to go by, the fallouts of some of these misdemeanors would be upsetting yet, the president would hardly display emotion or publicly speak on them; that is the burden and protocol of leadership especially at the highest level. But whether the president speaks or not on these matters, the watching public have seen and have lots of evidence that point to existence of infighting and disharmony within the president’s camp.
Last week, Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai exposed to the public a stinker memo he wrote to the president, about the same time Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) was sent for the second time to the Senate for confirmation. By the time the exercise ended, it had become a debacle. Shortly before these two incidents, Mrs. Abike Dabiri, a Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Matters was hotly contesting foreign affairs’ space with the Minister, somewhere else the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai and the Sports Minister were talking the President and by extension the nation into big opprobrium. In everything they did (these are just few examples), one got a clear message that most of the President’s men have been busy fighting for themselves, unmindful of the consequences their disposition, utterances and actions would have on harmonious working relationship with others in the service of the President. I don’t have problem with El-Rufai writing a memo to his benefactor, on the face value it is a symbol of love and concern, but in the case of what El-Rufai has just done, I have my doubts. His language and conclusions on some aspects were unduly acerbic. For instance, I consider it an affront for a subordinate to tell his principal in an outright manner that he had betrayed the vision. That is insulting and confrontational; it is like saying, ‘I have told you in case there is a consequence. ‘
The memo was said to have been written in October, that may well be good but leaking it to the press at the time the President is struggling with legitimacy related to his state of health and at a period he should be preparing to give a second year stewardship account would seem very curious. It is within this context that many suspect the outburst may not be with pure heart. El-Rufai has said severally he is one of those who got the President to change his mind and re-contest the presidency in 2015. If that is the case he is a close confidant and if he had to write a memo to convey his feelings to the president, what it proves is that all is not well between those around the president and if he made the memo public, it means “rebellion” is in the offing. The Magu controversy ought not to have happened, but to the chagrin of many Nigerians what they did not expect eventually happened and the President and his team were pasted with mud. The Department of State Services is under the President; its responsibility ought to have ended before the nomination and from the point of nomination, the directives of the president take preeminence; from this point of view the question would be, how come the DSS became the ones to provide the real tools with which the President’s intention was thwarted? That is the big question! I have no view whether the President should resend the name of Magu or not, I can only say the time has come for the President to begin to play practical politics especially of the “constructive engagement” kind.
Dabiri’s quest for larger space was unnecessary and may have been as a result of ignorance. Special Advisers and Special Assistants are not substantive heads of their departments. That status is conferred at the height of the pyramid to the President and at state level on the governors and who by the theory of delegation confer same status to ministers and commissioners. Even with this, such officers must receive approval before going public with cardinal programmes and policies; Advisers and Assistants are what they are mere advisers, they can draw the attention of the president or governors to issues but they are not in the position to break government stand on such issues, they could expatiate after it is made public. Dabiri simply over-reached herself and she would have created undue discord between Nigeria and America. It was very embarrassing hearing Dele Agekemeh, a journalist, moving from one media house to another talking in support of Dabiri, perhaps the misadventure was targeted at the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
We all know Tukur Buratai and Solomon Dalung, Army Chief and Sports Minister, respectively, but what we don’t know is where their loyalty lies: is it to the President and Federal Republic of Nigeria or to themselves? The President came wanting to fight Biafra agitators and Niger Delta militant and tension rose up everywhere, Osinbajo acted and went to the Niger Delta to sleep, this should tell you the quality of advice the President receives. Last week Buratai swore over Biafra. If we were organized, security commanders should not make public statements on political matters. Dalung publicly stated the nation’s position on CAF election; he said it was because Cameroon is helping us to fight Boko Haram, by the time the poll ended the result made us look more foolish than the reasons did earlier. The intention of the President is to give this nation quality governance, if that is the case there is need to sit down with the vice president and take a critical look at the structure of the government.