Opinion: Battle For Supremacy Within The President’s Cabals Over Next Level Appointments

June 29, 2019
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Next Level Appointments: Are The President’s Men At War? By Omeiza Ajayi



The recent wave of political protests and counter-protests within the Federal Capital Territory FCT, Abuja has again revealed the battle for supremacy within the president’s kitchen cabinet which Nigerians often refer to as the cabal.

What began as a discussion in hushed tones among party faithful soon became a matter for protests when self-styled Concerned National Stakeholders of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC filed out on Monday against what it described as the suffocating influences of some powerful individuals on the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, urging the president to be mindful of the fact that Nigerians voted for him and not the so-called ‘presidency cabals’.

Saturday Vanguard gathered that the crisis of confidence is between forces allegedly led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha on one hand and those led by the President’s Chief of Staff COS, Abba Kyari, Mamman Daura and Ismaila Funtua. To this latter group, the president’s wife, Aisha Buhari is said to belong. The first lady has never hidden her disdain for the alleged roles played by the SGF in her home state, Adamawa, regarding the last governorship election which the ruling party lost to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party PDP. Aisha’s brother was a front line contender for the APC ticket during the governorship primaries in the state.

We voted for Buhari, not Daura, Kyari

Defying the early morning downpour, there was no better place to stage the protest than the Defence Guest House in the highbrow Maitama District, a building allegedly serving as residences of some members of the so-called cabal.

The APC group accused a nephew of the president, Mamman Daura, the president’s Chief of Staff COS, Abba Kyari and Chairman of Bulet International Construction Company, Ismaila Isa Funtua who is also an in-law of the president of having undue influence on the president especially with regards to appointments and other policy choices.

Addressing journalists during the protest, National Convener of the group, Dr. Symeon Chilagorom, said “in this Next Level”, the Nigerian people will not accept a repeat of some features of President Buhari’s first term.

“Our demand is a simple one, the people of this country elected Muhammadu Buhari as their President, not Mamman Daura, not Ismaila Funtua, and definitely not Abba Kyari. Only President Buhari has our mandate to govern over the affairs of this nation. In the light of that, we are simply asking that President Buhari should take back control of his Government and begin to walk his talk during the campaigns by delivering on the promises made.

“These promises can only be achieved if the President is in the driver’s seat not passenger’s seat and if he is surrounded by patriotic men and women of goodwill who assisted him during the campaign in the eyes of the world, traveled the nooks and crannies of this country to sell the ideology of the change mantra to the generality of Nigerians and not those who hide away when the going gets tough only to re-emerge when the tough work is done and the battle is won.

Delayed Cabinet

“The Nigerian people will not accept the repeat of the first term, as the slogan of the 2019 campaign dictates, this is the next level and we dare ask, have we not arrived at the Next Level? If indeed we have arrived at the Next Level, then why is it feeling like we are one step forward and ten steps backward?

“By now, we expect that a new cabinet independently formed by the President based on merit and other constitutional criteria is made public at the very least, not a situation where few members of the cabal are hiding in shadows trying to handpick their allies and cronies who have contributed to neither the growth of the country nor assist the Party and the Presidential campaign in the run up to the 2019 General Elections”, the group added.

The protesters who came in hundreds with various placards said the protest was the first step to inform the presidency on the need to do away with some persons around the President Buhari.

Also speaking, Head, Social Media of the Buhari Presidential Campaign, Ayo Oyalowo, decried a situation whereby loyal members of the party who worked for the victory of President Buhari would be abandoned after the elections.

He called on leaders of thought in the ruling party not to repeat the mistakes of abandoning the real stakeholders for those who campaigned against the president when its time to make appointments.

Pro-Kyari groups launch counter-offensive

As if pre-planned, the Kyari group immediately launched a counter-protest the following day using the Muhammadu Buhari-Osinbajo Dynamic Support Group MBO-DSG platform.

The pro-Kyari protesters who were at the National Secretariat of the party on Tuesday dismissed insinuations about the existence of a cabal in the presidency.

Led by their National Coordinator, Usman Ibrahim, the protesters acknowledged the exclusive right of the president to appoint his personal aides, advisers and ministers.

According to him, “President Muhammadu Buhari rode on the public trust in 2015 to emerge as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces and has never deviated from his commitment and covenant to the Nigerian project.

“The cabal ideology was introduced into the Nigerian political lexicon from time immemorial and every administration that existed before now have been accused to be under the influence of a perceived cabal; this we view as a familiar song and we felt if our brothers are genuine in their agitations, they would have made their points and register their grouse without sinking into error of language.”

Anti-Kyari protesters, sponsored by
‘Coordinator of Govt Affairs’

Indications of a serious power-play within the nation’s seat of power, Aso Villa became even more pronounced Wednesday in Abuja following a massive protest in support of the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari and two others by a coalition of support groups within the ruling All Progressives Congress APC.

The pro-Kyari protesters who were also in their hundreds, asked the president to ignore some people they described as ‘blackmailers’ who are being sponsored from within the administration.

Enemy within

Although, the protesters fell short of unveiling the identity of the reported sponsor of the anti-Kyari protests, the support groups who walked from the Unity Fountain to the main entrance of the Presidential Villa laid the blame at the steps of Nigeria’s “Coordinator of Government Affairs”.

In the protest letter submitted to the Villa and read to journalists, the convener of the rally, Dr. Paul Dowells Essen, said “the sabotage within the corridors of power is becoming more alarming with the recent sponsored campaign against Mr. President under the guise of Mamman Daura, Ismaila Funtua and Abba Kyari”.

While calling on the president to ignore those who earlier protested against the trio, the group said if Buhari “is not on the driver’s seat, we would not have enjoyed the N-power , the Conditional Cash Transfer, the Market money”.

“Sir, your Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari is doing well. He is discharging his duty diligently, of course, those who want his office are not ghosts, they are neither PDP members, they are of the APC.

“While it is the right of every individual to aspire, it should be done with every sense of respect for the Office of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Mr. President Sir, you are on the driver’s seat, not on the passenger’s seat as speculated by few members of our Party acting the script of a man who claims to be your supporter, your coordinator, and even the Coordinator of Government Affairs. This shows that, the enemies are within, you must be careful of such persons around you, Sir”, they charged.

President Buhari had relieved most of his appointees especially Cabinet Ministers of their duties on May 28, leaving only presidential aides including Mr Kyari and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha.

Among the current appointees still working in the administration, only Mr Mustapha has the duty of coordinating government affairs or bureaucracy. Usually regarded as “The Presidency”, the Office of the Government of the Federation OSGF is the clearing house of all government policies, ensuring the smooth operation and functioning of government on a daily basis.

Some of his duties as shown on the website of the Office of the SGF include; Coordinating policy design and formulation by Ministries, Departments and Agencies for approval by Government; Serving as Secretary to the Council of State, the Federal Executive Council and other Constitutional Councils, which are chaired by the President; Coordinating the activities of Ministries and Government Agencies on the implementation of Government decisions, policies and programmes and Coordinating the appointments to Headship of Statutory Bodies, Commissions and Agencies by the President among other state duties on behalf of the president.

The group listed other achievements of the administration, saying its intention was to defend and sustain democracy.

“We are members of the governing All Progressives Congress, APC. We are Pro-democracy, we are Pro-Buhari, we believe in your leadership qualities and strength of Governance as you continue to sail the affairs of this entity called Nigeria.

“As a people, we agreed to stand and defend democracy, which we did for sixteen years before clinching power. The sacrifice of every individual is commendable, before, during and after the elections. Some are towards sustainable development, political or economical, the overall interest is Nigeria.

“Sir, we observed that, the two persons mentioned in a protest against you, Mamman Daura and Ismaila Funtua are not government appointees. They are patriotic Nigerians and must not be related with the Governance of the Country as Mr. President is fully in charge of the Government.

“The infrastructural architecture of Nigeria is reviving with massive road construction across the country, the anchor borrowers programme which has not only increased local production of rice, but has ended the importation of expired rice into the country. Your government is rapidly eradicating poverty, empowering women etc.

“Your Excellency Sir, because you are in charge of your Government, we have defeated Boko Haram and have suppressed other insurrection. The implementation of the Niger Delta Amnesty Program, engaging kidnapping and banditry in a fierce battle and we are winning the war; the arrest of Evans in Lagos, and multitude of kidnappers along Kaduna road and Zamfara State to mention but few.

“Your Excellency Sir, our democracy must be sustained, somebody is trying to paint your image in a bad light after achieving so much in the last four years. We cannot fold our arms and allow few individuals ruin the Country by blackmailing Mr. President in a view to box him to the corner”.

It remains to be seen who will blink first since the president in his usual manner is not likely to intervene promptly to rein in his men.

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