The President must take charge of the “Presidency”
The ill health of President Muhammadu Buhari gave some political jobbers in the inner caucus, as it is called, the opportunity to usurp power and derail governance from collective good to more selfish ends. Intermittent trips abroad for medical attention saw the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo taking charge, assumingly, to steer the affairs of the country, but it was common to hear that “certain people opposed full execution of powers”, for a wide range of sectional interests. This got to a head when a former SGF asked, “Who is the Presidency.”
However, the President has been back to the country for some months, but governance has remained more or less a circus show where government appointees act as they please, and as though the government was comprised of representatives of different groups reporting to different “Presidency(s)”. The dysfunctional approach in addressing issues suggests that heads of different agencies, do not communicate, collaborate, or report to the same President.
The situation is particularly worrisome in the security agencies where different agencies appear to be working for different interest groups rather than for a single Presidency and President. Most recent example of this was the botched attempt by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to effect the arrest of Ekpenyong Ita, former DG of the State Security Service for his alleged role in the arms scandal involving Sambo Dasuki, former National Security Adviser, and Ayo Oke, former DG of the National Intelligence Agency of the Ikoyigate scandal. The attempt by EFCC operatives to arrest these men was not simply rebuffed through administrative procedure but in an open public show of shame. The final showdown was more of a scenario that Nollywood film producers would be envious to have as a movie script, as armed personnel of SSS, essentially engaged in an “obstruction of justice”.
The subjects of EFCC’s intended arrests were former heads of these agencies, not even serving officers; more so, and beyond everything else, ought not to be above the law. It smacks of absolute lack of coordination if such drama can play out among security agencies. It then makes discerning minds wonder if the administration is not being run like a dysfunctional primary school yard where children can engage in fights as they please, while their teachers gossip away in the staff room.
The same could be said when Rasheed Maina, former chairman, Presidential Taskforce on Pension Reforms was smuggled back into the civil service. A fugitive of law, was somehow able to come in and out of the country with security protection. Maina was not only returned to civil service, but earned promotion and got paid the backlog of salaries due to him while evading prosecution. More importantly, he was declared “fit for duty” on the recommendation of Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation, and Abba Kyari, the President’s Chief of Staff has also been named as an active player in Maina’s reinstatement. Winifred Oyo-Ita, Head of Service of the Federation, whose parastatal had to effect Maina’s return to public service, was reportedly ignored in the whole process. As we have now come to know, the decision to return Maina to the civil service was a grand conspiracy by certain power blocs, who were not necessarily working in the interest of the country or the Presidency.
There is the ongoing drama in the case of the ‘Ikoyigate whistle-blower’, where Kemi Adeosun, the minister of Finance, and Ibrahim Magu, EFCC’s chairman, gave contradictory statements on the status of payment. While Magu had come out to claim the whistleblower “has become a millionaire”, Adeosun later came out to say that the whistle-blower had actually not been paid due to some procedural bottlenecks. Other members of the administration also had one thing or the other to say, either contradicting each other’s position or simply illogical.
There has been no indication till date that the President has taken punitive measures to address (at least) publicly reported acts of unilateral arrogation of power which ought not to be exhibited, and the “pulling of wool” over his face occasionally by people close to him.
We call on President Buhari to take charge of government in its entirety. The manner in which some of his confidants in the inner circle are running government like a circus show leaves much to be desired. Many Nigerians are losing confidence in the ability of government to deliver on their promises.
For Nigeria to truly be a preferred investment destination, the President must be seen as being in charge of policy and decision making, and not be perceived to be subject to the manipulations by few individuals who abuse the privilege of being his confidants to pursue sectional interests. The President cannot continually “appear” to be ignorant of decisions being taken in his name and right under his nose. This is not the image of the strong and “in charge” President sold to Nigerians and the World in 2015.
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