Social media platforms, last week, were littered with a video clip of one Jamilu Mohammed Gondari who breached the security agents of President Muhammadu Buhari, during his visit to Kebbi State for the Argungu International Fishing Festival, in a way that suggested that he wanted to attack him.
Gondari, 30, had almost reached the President, who was having a photo session with the Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Bagudu and other dignitaries at the event, before he was intercepted by security agents. The incident was widely alleged as a well-thought-out attempt to attack the President. The Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina, came to the rescue by debunking the claims that the young man was out to attack Nigeria’s Commander-in-Chief.
He, in a statement, asserted that Gondari was only excited to see his President so close, and made a determined attempt to get to him; with the intention to greet him. “As the President went round the arena to inspect rice pyramids on display and take photographs with farmers, a young man was so excited to see his President so close. He made an attempt to get to him. World over, such would not be allowed by security details. The young man was prevented, and he protested that he should be allowed to greet his President.
“Now, professional contortionists are making mischief of the event. They are passing the video clip off on social media as an attempt to attack the President. Malicious people always twist things to give negative narrative. But they simply dash their heads against the wall. The country moves on,” he said.
Known government critic, Femi Fani Kayode, in a Tweet on his Twitter handle @realFFK, however, differed with the Presidency, arguing that it not tell the truth of what happened in Kebbi State. “I don’t know what that young man had in mind but this is the first time that I have ever heard of a citizen wanting to ‘greet’ his President by charging at him. Must this Government lie about everything? Must they put a spin on every event? Do they think that we are fools?”
In order to clear the air, Gondari, said to be a graduate of Public Administration from Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto, addressed a Press Conference, at the Government House, Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State capital. He stated that his intention was not to harm the President but he wanted to show his love for him by shaking his hand. He also apologised for breaching the President’s security protocol.
“I am sorry for the disturbances I caused. It was emotional love I have for Mr President, the person whom I know is nurtured with integrity and honesty and he is incorruptible and right driven. Even if I died yesterday I would have been contented that I have achieved my mission to move close to Mr President and touch him one on one.”
That Gondari outwitted the President’s security team speaks eloquently of yawning security gaps that Buhari’s handlers need to fill. Perhaps, if Gondari’s intention was to harm the President, he would have accomplished his mission, having come so close to him before the security agents could recover from their perceived ineptitude. If anything, it should be clear to Buhari’s team that managing security around the president should be more about intelligence than massing armed men around him.
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What has Buhari got to do with Sanusi?
In another development, last week, President Muhammadu Buhari denied involvement in the dethronement of the now former Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi 11. The Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje removed Sanusi from being the Emir of Kano due to alleged disrespect for constituted authorities in the State.
The Kano State government made this known in a Press Statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Usman Alhaji. “The Kano State Executive Council under the Chairmanship of his Excellency, the Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, has unanimously approved the immediate removal/dethronement of the Emir of Kano Emirate Muhammad Sanusi 11.
“The Emir of Kano is in total disrespect to lawful instructions from the Office of the State Governor and other lawful authorities, including his persistent refusal to attend official meetings and programmes organised by the government without any lawful justification which amounts to total insubordination,” the statement read in part.
The dethronement did not come as a surprise to people who have been following the running battle between Sanusi and Ganduje. It was obvious that the governor could no longer tolerate Sanusi’s alleged opposition to his government.
Sanusi’s removal generated nationwide concern with some people insinuating that President Buhari ordered his removal. The former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, who appointed the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as Emir of Kano on June 8, 2014, vociferously claimed, during an interview with BBC Hausa Service, that the President ordered his removal.
“However, like people who are close to President Muhammadu Buhari often say that the President does not intervene in disputes; that, if people are in dispute the President just keeps quiet, but we in Kano do not see him (President Buhari) like that; we see him like he selects where he intervenes. And where he is supposed to intervene, he doesn’t but where he is not supposed to intervene, that is where he does.
“You see leaders here in Kano State Government themselves are saying they were given the order to dethrone the Emir. He (President Buhari) is the one that gave them the order. Here in Kano as we see, Buhari destabilizes where ever he puts his hands.”
Following this, the Presidency, through a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, using his verified Twitter account, @GarShehu, stressed that the President had no hand in Sanusi’s dethronement. He dismissed the claim as falsehood manufactured by enemies while pointing out that the President is not known to meddle in local affairs unless it is of national interest.
“The President does not have a history of intervening in the affairs of any state in the country, unless the issue at hand is of national consequence. On such matters which impinge on national security, he has a duty of involvement as the law stipulates. It is unfair and disingenuous of opposition politicians to try to link the situation in Kano State to the Federal Government and the Nigerian President,” he stated.
Ganduje, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Abba Anwar, also dismissed the allegation that President Buhari was involved in the removal of the ex-monarch. “The removal of the former Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi 11, is the sole responsibility of state government based on valid reasons that led to his travail. It is baseless and absolutely not true, therefore to say Presidency has a hand in this development,” he averred.
It is thought in different quarters that there is no how the President will be completely unaware about the dethronement of an important traditional ruler like the Emir of Kano. Moreover, the perception that Kano is one of the volatile states in the country where violence and uproar can easily surface makes it even more likely for him (President Buhari) to know. The claim of innocence is rubbished by arguments that operatives of the DSS, an agency of the presidency, were actively involved in the detention of Sanusi In Nasarawa State.
That N3.7bn NDDC windfall
President Muhammadu Buhari, while speaking at the inauguration of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Advisory Committee, comprising the nine governors of the Niger Delta region and the Ministers of Niger Delta Affairs and Environment, last week, in Abuja, asserted that law enforcement agencies had recovered over N3.7 billion from contractors and former directors of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
“To date, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other agencies of government have recovered over 3.7 billion Naira in cash as well as various assets worth billions of Naira from some contractors and former Directors of the Commission. Furthermore, I am told that government agencies have placed liens on over 6 billion Naira of assets which are being investigated,” he stated.
It could be recalled that in a bid to sanitise the NDDC, which had been enmeshed in a series of corruption over the years, President Buhari, on October 17, 2019, ordered for a probe of the financial dealings of the Niger Delta Development Agency (NDDC) from 2001 to 2019. “I have ordered a forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). With the amount of money the Federal Government has allocated to the NDDC, we’d like to see the results on the ground; those that are responsible for that have to explain certain issues,” he tweeted.
The decision of the President to probe the intervention agency – NDDC – comes on the heels of the never-ending petitions and allegations of shoddy contracts and project abandonment which have been linked to it. The NDDC, with an average annual budget of N300 billion is assumed not to have lived up to its billing in executing projects in the Niger Delta region.
The recovered money and property that the President spoke of only tells of the need to take the investigations even further. Perhaps, what has been reported represents just a tip of the iceberg. However, it serves as a big plus to the anti-corruption crusade of his administration. It is important that the President ensures that all that has been recovered are well documented and deployed to help better the lot of Niger Delta people. This would assist to address the shame currently playing out with the recovered loot of former Head of State, General Sani Abacha, which the Federal Government tells the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) that it had no record of the exact amount of public funds stolen by Abacha and the spending of $5 billion recovered loot for the period between 1999 and 2015.
By John Chukwu…
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