All is certainly not well with President Buhari’s kitchen cabinet as some key elements within the presidency have come for each other’s throats.
Early indications of deepening crisis within the amorphous group, now referred to as a cabal, emerged Wednesday in Abuja at the live screening of Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Magu was unanimously rejected by the Nigerian Senate but not before he had reacted angrily at what he termed a biased and dishonest report from the Department of State Security Services (DSS) labeling him as corrupt and lacking in integrity.
The DSS and EFCC are sister agencies working directly under the control of President Muhammadu Buhari but had been torn apart by rivalry driven by ego of the helmsmen. It is established that the DSS is led by Lawal Daura, a very close relation of the President.
On Thursday, however, a leaked document purportedly authored by Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, another right hand man of the President, stoked the fierce rivalry within the tiny but powerful group even further.
Said to have been written in September 2016, el-Rufai is quoted to have said in the leaked document that the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, and Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari are “clueless” and “inexperienced”.
Addressing Buhari, governor el-Rufai said, amongst others, “You appear to have neither a political adviser nor a minder of your politics. The two officials whose titles may enable them function as such generally alienate those that contributed to our success. The SGF is not only inexperienced in public service but is lacking in humility, insensitive and rude to virtually most of the party leaders, ministers and governors. The Chief of Staff is totally clueless about the APC and its internal politics at best as he was neither part of its formation nor a participant in the primaries, campaigns and elections. In summary, neither of them has the personality, experience and the reach to manage your politics, nationally or even regionally.”
It is not yet clear why the document may have been leaked to the press at this time, coming nearly 6 months after it was sent to the beneficiary, President Buhari. There have also not been any official reactions from the two principal officers who were seriously dressed down by el-Rufai.
Yet, while there are no clues on the real intentions and source of the press leak, there are mounting concerns over Buhari’s tenuous hold on the presidency, and or control of the various interest groups threatening cohesion of his administration.
Analysts, particularly hold the President squarely responsible for allowing in-fighting within his kitchen cabinet to stall the confirmation of Magu as EFCC boss. Many find it difficult to believe, or indeed, are yet to come to terms with the fact that Buhari may have been denied access to the report that nailed Magu.
El-Rufai’s Thursday revelations appear to re-echo the alarm raised in 2016 by Aisha, the President’s wife, who while addressing the media alleged that the presidency was being hijacked by some people she failed to mention, and that those who directly ensured the victory of the ruling party were being sidelined. She had threatened not to join forces with her husband, Buhari, and the All Progressives Congress (APC) if alleged wrongs were not corrected.
Babachir, who has been described as inexperienced, rude and arrogant by el-Rufai, is currently embroiled in an alleged N200 million ‘grass-cutting’ scam.
Meanwhile, el-Rufai has been reported as having taken up part-time studies in the Netherlands for a Phd programme. This is as the Southern Kaduna crisis remains intractable and critics hold his unguarded utterances as stoking the ethnic and religious crisis even further.
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