Days after, the Presidency is yet to name the Deputy Director responsible for the plagiarism seen round the world
It's been an embarrassing couple of days for President Muhammadu Buhari.
Last week, the media happened on the fact that Nigeria's number one citizen copiously lifted paragraphs off Barack Obama's 2008 victory speech.
The Nigerian leader who was launching his administration's "Change Begins With Me" attitudinal campaign, took portions off Obama's speech without attribution.
The entire world has been having a laugh at Nigeria's expense.
With plenty of egg on its face, the Presidency owned up to the plagiarism as alleged, just before close of business, Friday.
"President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered that prompt and appropriate disciplinary action be taken against those responsible for a wrongful insertion in his speech delivered on September 8, 2016 at the launch of the 'Change Begins with Me campaign", fumed Garba Shehu who is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity.
It was all a Deputy Director's fault, Shehu added.
"It was observed that the similarities between a paragraph in President Obama’s 2008 Victory Speech and what President Buhari read in paragraph nine of the sixteen-paragraph address while inaugurating the Campaign on Thursday, September 8, 2016 are too close to be passed as coincidence.
"There was a mistake by an overzealous staff and we regret that this has happened.
"Already, a Deputy Director in the Presidency has accepted responsibility for the insertion of the contentious paragraph.
"This serious oversight will be investigated thoroughly and appropriate sanction meted", the president's spokesperson revealed in his statement.
Pulse immediately went to work all weekend, with the singular objective being to track and put a name to this "Deputy Director". No dice.
First, we rang our usual reliable sources in the Presidential Villa who told us flatly that if a Deputy Director was indeed responsible for the snafu, he would have been named by the presidency.
"There's no Deputy Director anywhere in this case", said one of our sources who pleaded that his name be left out of this story. "All we do know is that Mamman Daura who is the president's nephew, has the final word on Buhari's speeches. If anyone should be hanged for this, it should be Daura".
Our source's position on the development has since been corroborated by online news site, Sahara Reporters which wrote that "two sources claimed that Mr. Daura had hijacked the task of providing speeches for the Nigerian president, adding that he often threw away draft speeches that he did not commission.
"Asked whether the president’s nephew personally wrote the controversial speech that stole Mr. Obama’s words without attribution, our sources said that Mr. Daura certainly produced the speech. “It is possible he wrote it himself, or he went and asked somebody else to go and write it and bring,” said one source. The other stated, “I can tell you that nobody writes speech anymore for President Buhari but Mamman Daura.”
On September 2, 2016, Pulse had ran a story on the enormous influence Daura peddles within the Buhari presidency.
In that story, we had stated that Daura heads what has become known as the 'Daura Mafia' in the Villa; alienating other top government officials at will--including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo--in critical decision making processes.
Daura is also the name of Buhari's hometown in the Katsina parchlands.
On Saturday, Pulse worked the phones, calling just about everyone whose name we could come up with within the presidency. But the response was the same:
"We can't give you the name of the Deputy Director because we don't know him".
Was the "Deputy Director" angle a hoax then? A convenient distraction? Did one really exist?
At about 1:50pm, Sunday, Pulse rang the mobile of Shehu and followed through with text messages, but no responses were forthcoming.
Not a few have wondered why any President in the 21st century won't have a speech-writer. You know, someone whose job it is to put the President's words into prose. Why would a Deputy Director--probably a career civil servant--be charged with writing the President's speeches?
Why would any nephew be anywhere near the speech writing process of a Nigerian President or any President for that matter?
Why would a Presidency that has media aides in Shehu, Femi Adesina (Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Muhammadu Buhari), and Tolu Ogunlesi (Special Adviser to the President on New Media), cede speech-writing duties to some civil servant?
"The Presidency needs to appoint speech-writers, not depend on career civil servants. It's good they put up their hand and admitted the error", said Dr Dipo Awojide, a Lecturer in Strategy & Assistant Course Leader at Nottingham Business School, UK.
Gimba Kakanda, a writer and public affairs analyst, said the Presidential faux pas was a grievous one.
"Melania Trump disappeared from her husband's campaign trail because of exactly what our President did: an intellectual theft. It's grave", said Kakanda.
Canada based Professor, Pius Adesanmi, was also left shaking his head as events unfolded.
"In a Villa with one of Naija's most brilliant wordsmiths in Tolu Ogunlesi, Mamman Daura gets within a 1-kilometre radius of PMB's (President Muhammadu Buhari) speeches!
"And I won't put it beyond them to send Ogunlesi to buy kolanuts and tomtom while Mamman Daura cannibalizes speeches for his nephew!", said Adesanmi.
Pulse had reached out to Ogunlesi as the plagiarism news was gathering steam, for a word or two on who writes the President's speeches, but he still hasn't found the time to respond to our mail, three days after.
"The Deputy Director doesn't exist", one Villa source offered. "It was just a ploy by the Presidency to make everyone back off and it worked", he added.
Pulse is however still on the trail of this Deputy Director.