First Lady Aisha Buhari laments that a cabal has seized her husband's presidency. The President had better listen to her
That interview granted to the BBC was in her voice and name, but there've been plenty of undercurrents within the Buhari Presidency in a year, for the discerning to reach the conclusion that her husband granted his blessings before she went public with this.
Yes, Muhammadu Buhari is just as helpless as his better half; just as helpless as the rest of us here. And that’s a rather unfortunate thing to say.
In the past, sources familiar with the inner workings of Nigeria’s seat of power in Aso Villa, have told Pulse how much of an influence a certain Mamman Daura wields within the Buhari presidency set-up. He’s the one who decides who gets what position in the bureaucracy; he schedules appointments for the President, decides how food goes around within the Villa and even writes the President’s speeches-- including plagiarized ones.
Daura is President Buhari’s nephew with an aura that has since enveloped the entire Aso Villa set -up. Daura runs what is called the ‘Daura Mafia’ within the Buhari presidency, several Villa sources have told Pulse in the past. He shares his last name with Buhari’s home town in the Katsina parch lands.
Peddling plenty of influence alongside Daura within the Buhari Presidency is Abba Kyari—President Buhari’s Chief of Staff. Villa sources spoken to for this story say the influence they peddle hasn’t been a healthy one for the Buhari Presidency.
“Together, Kyari and Daura have held the President hostage. It’s unbelievable that for all his military background and discipline, Buhari has allowed this scenario unfold…that he’s allowed these persons run rings around him”, said one Villa source.
When Ms. Buhari told the BBC that “few people” have hijacked the Buhari presidency, there was going to be no prizes for guessing who she was referring to.
When she said the President doesn’t know “half of the people” he has appointed, it has to be because Daura, Kyari and the mafia within the Presidency, make the final call on those appointments; well over Buhari’s head.
It’s also little wonder that federal appointments have been lopsided, casting the President in the mould of a clannish, sectional character.
Presidency sources who craved anonymity for this story, have told Pulse in the past that Kyari and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, receive kickbacks before approving appointments into boards and parastatals within the bureaucracy. Pulse has not been able to independently verify these claims.
The duo would not refute or shed more light on this bit of unsavoury grapevine information in the past, when pressed to do so by Pulse.
But the rumours have persisted and flourished, no less.
So, when Ms. Buhari accused certain persons who have no knowledge of the vision of the APC—the political platform on which her husband was elected—of hijacking an APC government, she had Daura, Kyari and Lawal in her cross-hairs, Villa sources told Pulse on Friday.
“The president does not know 45 out of 50, for example, of the people he appointed and I don't know them either, despite being his wife of 27 years. Some people are sitting down in their homes folding their arms only for them to be called to come and head an agency or a ministerial position”, Ms. Buhari lamented.
Pressed to name and shame these persons who have hijacked her husband’s Presidency, Ms. Buhari gave very little away, while providing quite a lot between the lines.
"You will know them if you watch television”, she said.
Yes Ma'am, we know them and we don't even watch that much television.
Pulse reached out to a few APC faithful while working on this story. A handful of those spoken to, threw their weight behind Ms. Buhari.
“I support what she said and it’s a good thing she has spoken about what some of us haven’t been bold enough to say all along. Only Aisha could have said what Aisha said. It’s unfortunate that Buhari has allowed himself to be held hostage by these people”, said one APC chieftain who pleaded that his name be left out of this story.
Another APC chieftain offered: “Aisha respects Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (APC national leader) and she has watched with frustration as Asiwaju has been sidelined in the larger scheme of things within the APC and the Presidency. Meanwhile, I’m not sure Daura or Kyari voted for the President or whether they even have APC membership cards. But Baba (Buhari) has allowed them to run things and that’s rather unfortunate.
“Where were Daura and Kyari when Asiwaju was traveling to Katsina to hold political meetings with Buhari before the election, almost every week? Where was Daura when Jagaban (as Tinubu is fondly called by admirers) and Buhari were putting the APC together? Today, they run the place. You can’t come and ruin what you didn’t help build. These guys are ruining things for the APC and Nigerians. That’s the crux of Aisha’s message”, added the APC chieftain.
To be fair, Ms. Buhari’s frustrations have been expressed by millions of other Nigerians whose votes helped propel Buhari into another spell as democratic President.
With an economy in crisis and most Nigerians barely able to get by on Buhari’s watch, some of these disenchanted supporters have threatened not to line behind a Buhari Presidency if his name returns to the ballot come 2019.
Ms. Buhari agrees with them on that score as well.
Was her husband still in charge of Nigeria? She was asked. "That is left for the people to decide," she said flatly.
Given the mood in the country, will she be out there on the stump for her husband if he throws his hat into the ring in 2019?
"He is yet to tell me but I have decided as his wife, that if things continue like this up to 2019, I will not go out and campaign again and ask any woman to vote like I did before. I will never do it again."
These were the words of an angry wife who has been left exasperated and disillusioned like millions of other Nigerians who trooped out to support a promised change ticket, a little over a year ago.
And it’s all Daura, Kyari and Lawal’s fault. It’s the fault of a very powerful cabal within the Buhari Presidency. It's also Buhari's fault.
It's time for Buhari to break free from the grasp of the cabal. For his own good.