The faceoff between National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno and Chief of Staff Abba Kyari has raised insinuations that Buhari may not be truly in charge of Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari
In the last few weeks since the leak of a memo by the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno accusing President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari of meddling in the matters of national security and holding meetings with Service Chiefs, with neither the President’s knowledge nor approval, Nigerians have been calling for the sack of Kyari.
This would not be the first time that Nigerians have wondered why Kyari seems untouchable and still remains the President’s top aide since he has been involved in several controversies, with the most damning being that he is the head of an alleged cabal in the Presidency.
Sitting with a friend and having a discussion about Kyari, he threw-up questions that has got me thinking till this moment. “What if Buhari is a figure-head and Kyari is the ‘real’ President? What if Kyari has something on Buhari that’s making the President overlook his excesses? “ he asked.
I know what my friend may be insinuating sounds like a script from a Hollywood movie, but come to think of it, movies are made from possibilities of real-life situations and as it is, anything is believable given the way things have been done in this administration.
The President seems to depend so much on his CoS whose loyalty seems not in doubt. Before coming onboard as Buhari’s CoS on August 27, 2015, Kyari, a trained lawyer and businessman had gained a lot of corporate experience. He served as Borno State’s Commissioner for Forestry and Animal Resources in 1990. He also served as Director in a couple of blue-chip firms including United Bank for Africa (UBA), Unilever Nigeria Limited and Exxon Mobil Nigeria.
In a previous article, I had highlighted some of the controversies that Kyari’s name has come up in. Some of these scandals, on a normal day, would have gotten him fired from his position.
Take for instance, the recent revelation by the NSA boss of Kyari's interference in national security matters could hinder the fight against terrorism should not have been taken lightly. The boldness and audacity by which he meets with Service Chiefs without the President’s knowledge strikes of insubordination.
We can not overlook the suspicion of Kyari being the leader of the alleged cabal that the First Lady, Aisha Buhari claims exists in Aso Rock and that has hijacked her husband’s government and held him hostage. The cabal, it is claimed influences every decision or policy that is initiated from the Presidency.
Appointments, sacks and award of contracts are in the purview of the alleged cabal. It is also claimed that the influence of the cabal is the reason why Buhari is unable to sack the Service Chiefs, even when they are long overdue for retirement.
For the numerous times Buhari was undergoing his medical treatment in London, not even his Vice and close party associates had free access to him but the almighty Kyari. One time, a simple bill (Deep Offshore Act) Buhari could have instructed Osinbajo to sign was taken all the way to London by Kyari, just to get the President’s appendage. This in a way, undermined the power and position of the vice president in a period when rumours were already making the rounds of the cabal’s effort to undermine Osinbajo.
Agreed, the position of the CoS is highly sensitive. The CoS determines the President’s itinerary, decides who the President receives or not receives. Infact, at an extreme case, the CoS determines who he shuts the door on or who he opens for. In the case of Buhari’s administration, the powers of Kyari seems to be even more pronounced as the President once instructed his newly appointed ministers that the only way to get through to him is by Kyari who many have come to tag ‘the defacto President’.
There’s no doubt that Kyari must be more power in Buhari’s government than we are willing to admit. The way he continues to usurp power without any caution amazes Nigerians. The President’s former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal and former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun were shown the way out of the government when they encountered much less scandals, but Kyari continues to reign with the President remaining silent and not bordering to address his alleged excesses and in-fighting between him and other top officials in the government.
Since the inception of the administration, so many things have happened begging several answers to tonnes of questions. Even the President’s aides have not been able to provide convincing arguments, so it’s understandable when people begin to throw-up different conspiracy theories and spurious allegations like that made popular by Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, of a certain Jubril from Sudan that has replaced Buhari in the Presidential Villa.
Kanu’s allegation, though laughable, smirks of mischief. Besides, I don’t know the President well enough to recognize the difference in the features analysed by Kanu. Even if there are differences in the way he now looks versus when he left Nigeria for treatment, that I think is quite normal. People get sick and do stand a chance of recovering – a process that could lead to a transformation of physical features.
My conviction on Buhari’s silence on Kyari’s overboard actions would be that he is caged, just like his wife had earlier alleged and therefore, has very little hold on his government. Indications point to Kyari having the real power in the Presidency and Buhari operating as a nominal figurehead. As it is, it is very difficult to ascertain the mental state of the President because his body language portends to that of a puppet moving to the dictates of a cabal.