Anchors of change

​As the heat of the intense pressure mounted on the BBC to stop the airing of the remaining part of the controversial Aisha Buhari interview a few days ago, I had the privilege of listening to the interview before it was fully aired.

My good friend, the Head of the Abuja bureau of the BBC, Naziru Mikailu, invited me to his office to comment on the interview, and directed that it be played to me before the recording of my comment.

Listening to the president’s wife passionately expressing herself on how her husband runs Nigeria left me cringing. Reading between the lines, I realised Mrs. Buhari was sending an SOS to Nigerians to save her bewitched, servile husband from the clutches of the Aso Rock witches, popularly known as the “Aso cabal”.

The Buhari I knew before the last presidential election was not the obtuse person we have today as president. The Buhari I promoted during the campaign had no nepotistic, despotic or tele-guided tendencies. The Buhari I voted for was not this pliable. Forgive me if my knowledge of him was superficial.Aisha Buhari might have pitched the nation a curve ball, but her interview is actually a deafening echo of what we’ve been saying for ages about her husband. When I first raised alarm on the dangers of the influence of the numero uno of the cabal, Mamman Daura, on the Buhari administration barely three weeks after the president took the oath of office, I received all manners of insults and invectives. Today a lot of my predictions have come to reality.

But if actually the Mamman Daura cabal is the one running this country, then it appears to be a very unintelligent lot whose mastery does not go beyond the art of nepotism and crafts of plagiarism.

This cabal has kept both the nation and the president under spell, leaving the economy to slide into recession, our currency to crash beyond salvation and impunity to reign supreme. This cabal has suffocated a mega political party that Nigerians from all regions laboured and united to build.It always saddens me to realise that our president has been turned into a puppet, managed by some half-witted puppeteers, who are mainly adept at turning his feet toward Europe, America and Asia; stretching his hand in perpetuation of nepotism or opening his mouth to goof.

From the appointment of ministers to heads of agencies, there are either portfolio misplacements or the elevation of disturbing cronyism and incompetence by this cabal, which started from the outset of the present administration. This same cabal gave plum appointments to progenies of the famous Kaduna mafia members, some of who even served the immediate-past administration or openly campaigned for the PDP.

A leading member of the cabal, who is the present Chief of Staff to the president, Abba Kyari, was appointed by former President Goodluck Jonathan as a member of the Ribadu-led Petroleum Revenue Task Force in 2012. A year earlier, Kyari had turned down Buhari’s offer to serve as the secretary of one of the CPC presidential campaign committees – perhaps because Buhari had little chance of winning.

Take the case of the Sokoto ministerial nominee, for instance. Any loyal party man will not be happy to see the daughter of Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji, the late Kaduna mafia member, Aisha Abubakar, appointed minister from Sokoto State. Aisha openly campaigned for the PDP governorship candidate in Sokoto, and her brother, Aminu Abubakar Alhaji, who unsuccessfully vied for the Tambuwal/Kebbe Federal Constituency ticket on the platform of PDP.

Again, no one who wishes the APC well will be happy to see Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, the daughter of another Kaduna mafia member, Yahaya Hamza, appointed minister from Kaduna State. Zainab headed NEITI under Jonathan and contributed to the PDP during election.

Any card carrying member of the APC will be saddened to see Mohammed Bello, the son of Mamman Daura’s friend, Musa Bello, appointed minister from Adamawa State. Mohammed Bello headed the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria under Jonathan but was given the plum FCT ministry by the Aso cabal. I believe if he had gone against PDP, he would have been removed immediately after Jonathan lost the election.

But consider how the cabal dumped loyal party members in Enugu like Osita Okechukwu to appoint Geoffrey Enyeama, who had hitherto never met Buhari nor worked for the APC, as minister of Foreign Affairs.Or, will any APC politician be happy with Senator Ita Enang, a top Jonathan campaigner, as Senior Special Assistant to the president on the National Assembly (Senate), or Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, also a top Jonathan campaigner, as chairman of the almighty Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), while loyal party men like Senator Magnus Abe were kicked backstage. Senator Abe was even shot by the police during the election in Rivers.Aisha Buhari might have been wondering where loyal Buhari campaigners were, like Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, Faruq Adamu Aliyu, Dele Alake, Barrister Ismail Ahmed, Architect Waziri Bulama, Yusuf Tuga, Yakubu Lame, Dr. Hassan Lawan, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, Umaru Dembo, Ubale Hashim, Umar Dangiwa, among others.

The president’s wife and party supporters will also be incensed to see appointees of the past government still heading a number of agencies and departments. The cabal should know that party men are piqued that the 12 agencies of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources are still headed by the appointees of the past government, as well as a minister, Engr. Sulaiman Adamu, appointed not for his political contributions to the success of Buhari, but due to close family ties.

Now take a cursory look at the re-appointment of Umaru Ibrahim as managing director of NDIC. Ibrahim was appointed in December 2010 by Jonathan but was reappointed by Buhari to serve another five years, as if there are no competent persons for such within the party fold. One still wonders why the Director-General of PenCom, Mrs Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, is retained despite the fact that her appointment was initially done in violation of the law. Does Buhari think his party is happy that Malam Sani Sidi, a protege of former Vice President Namadi Sambo, is still the head of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)?

Whoever wishes the president and APC well must feel strongly about this. As someone who stood by her husband during the election, Aisha Buhari has the right to complain when certain forces take over her husband or when things go wrong in the party. I still believe she loves her husband more than those who are insulting or mocking her. She is still the best authority on the president’s mental and socio-physical state.One basic fact a lot of fanatical supporters of Buhari forget is that he rode on the saddle of a political party to power. The fortunes of the party are diminishing and those who laboured to build the party and ensured the emergence of Buhari as candidate have been relegated, while political ambulance chasers take the centre stage. APC’s growth is inorganic, and so needs some therapy to strengthen it’s fragility.

There is concern about the political future of Buhari and APC. As it stands today, barring any miracle, Buhari could either be the first incumbent Nigerian president to lose a party ticket at the primaries or the second president to lose re-election in Nigeria’s political history.

Jaafar Jaafar , a public affairs analyst and media practitioner, writes from Abuja.