Editor’s note: There have been reports that there is a powerful cabal controlling President Muhammadu Buhari in the decisions he makes and this has been reinforced by his wife, Aisha’s comment that people who worked for his presidency have been relegated
In this opinion published on Daily Trust, the writer lists 12 actions the president has taken that has raised the suspicion that there is a strong force responsible for his actions.
The powerful cabal
Old time newspaper readers must have chuckled yesterday when several newspapers reported President Muhammadu Buhari as saying that he is in charge of his government and had not abandoned his constitutional powers to his nephew, Malam Mamman Daura. The president spoke to the online medium The Osasu Show. He said, “I don’t know where [those making the allegation] get their news from. I stood for the election. I visited every local government in Nigeria. I travelled by road, by air and so on and we had one of the most credible election. So whoever feels he has lost somehow is his own problem. I have no problem.”
In recent weeks and months, allegations were routinely made in political circles and the news media that the president was not in charge of his government; that a cabal of unelected persons has seized control and is calling the shots in the State House. The president’s wife Hajia Aisha sensationally added to the chorus when she alluded to the same cabal whose members, she said, do not even have voter’s registration cards. Names are not often mentioned in these allegations but the men widely believed to constitute this power cabal are Malam Mamman Daura and the president’s Chief of Staff Malam Abba Kyari. Sometimes Secretary to the Government of the Federation Babachir David Lawal is added to the mix.
In 1986, when French centre-right political parties triumphed in parliamentary elections and the new prime minister Jacques Chirac began a struggle for power with the Socialist President Francois Mitterrand [what the French called “cohabitation”], Time magazine did a lead story titled ‘Who is in charge here?’ As most of its readers knew, that phrase arose from an episode on March 30, 1981 when John Hinckley shot US President Ronald Reagan as he emerged from a hotel in Washington, DC. With Vice President George H.W. Bush in a plane to Hawaii and with the US government in some disarray, Secretary of State Alexander Haig stood up from an emergency Cabinet meeting and went to the press room to try to reassure his countrymen that things were under control. He infamously said, “I am in charge here…” That episode ridiculed General Haig for the rest of his life, in part because it was constitutionally wrong. Apart from the Vice President, the next officers in the US presidential line of succession are Speaker of the House of Representatives, President Pro Tempore of the Senate [in the US, the Vice President is the Senate President], followed by Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Defence, Attorney General etc.
In Nigeria here, the men alleged to have usurped presidential power are nowhere in the constitutional line of succession. As a matter of fact, unlike the US, Nigeria has no line of presidential succession beyond the Vice President and Senate President. I will like to remind the National Assembly to enact a US-style Presidential Succession Act and elongate the list in the event that all three officials are lost in one cataclysmic event. Not only is the alleged Nigerian cabal not in the line of succession; the members also did not wait for presidential incapacitation but are alleged to have taken full charge when the elected president is fully on his feet.
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