By Eric Elezuo
It is a common practice in every administration that there is a group or groups of people very close to the President; set of people who are referred to as the ‘Kitchen cabinet’ in some quarters or ‘cabal’ when it gets nasty. These men, in whatever guise they come, are carefully selected by the President himself, and are said to influence the activities of the leader, and advise him towards achieving the best he can for his country. They also go the extra mile to manipulate the President, making him turn a blind eye to the plight of the citizenry; and that’s when they bear the mark of ‘cabal’
The term ‘cabal’ was first used by the former Director-General of the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr. Dora Akinyuli, during her tenure as the country’s Minister of Information. This was at the height of the controversy that trailed the health and absence of former President, late Musa Yar’dua. Ever since then, it has a recurring factor in the lexicology of Nigeria’s administrative and political vocabulary.
It would be recalled that the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, during his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) insinuated that a powerful cabal within the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government had hijacked power from the retired general. In a statement, Saraki alleged that the powerful forces in Buhari’s administration were bent on humiliating him.
As expected, the presidency dismissed Saraki’s claim as ridiculous and baseless since it was not backed by facts and detailed information.
In the opinions of most Nigerians, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has been the most hit in the portrayal of the most negative form of cabalism, prompting his wife, Mrs. Aisha Buhari to grant a most explosive interview with the BBC where she stated that her husband’s government has been hijacked by a cabal, who are “behind presidential appointments” and the ill wind spreading across the nation today. This “cabal” wields so much power and serve as close to ears to the president.
But today, as the clamour for Buhaari to step aside immediately or perish the thoughts of standing for re-election in 2019 from all quarters including former President Obasanjo stinker of a letter, these men are likely to becloud his sense of judgement and stop him from doing the needful. They have been identified as follows:
He is the chief of staff to the President and a retired Brigadier-general in the Nigerian army. He is also an uncle to the president. Kyari had been in the corridors of power since Yakubu Gowon’s era. He wields so much power, and is alleged to love power and dispenses it as he pleases no matter whose ox is gored. Bookmakers have also said that he is using power for personal gain and has a firm grip on Mr. President and is a force to reckon within this government. Many decisions that have not been favourable to the people have at one time or another been linked to him. Kyari was once challenged by the Head of Service as the crisis surrounding the recall and elevation of Abdurahman Maina was raging.
At a time, he reportedly denied the President’s wife access to him, making former British Parliamentarian and ex-soldier, Eric Joyce, wondered if the 79 year old Kyari was the president
According to John Paden, the authorised biographer of President Buhari, Kyari’s appointment to the Chief of Staff’s position, was a necessity as those who were there before him were allegedly sabotaging the President.
Mamman Daura is the nephew of the President, and mischief makers have said he’s the unofficial vice president, and wields more power than the incumbent VP Osinbajo himself. Much as he does not hold any political office in this dispensation, Daura, is always with the president and travels with him most times. He is believed to have considerable input in the choice of those who emerged as ministers, especially those from the North.
Daura has accused from many quarters as the brain behind the nepotic, despotic and focus-less tendencies of the Buhari administration. Daura’s influence started since 1983, when the then General Muhammadu Buhari took over power from the democratically elected government of Shehu Shagari. He even became the head of African International Bank and chairman of the board of Nigerian Television Authority. He was one of the few that had access to the President during his illness in London as one of his phone calls intercepted by SaharaReporters revealed.
He is the Minister of Transport, a position he got as compensation for the alleged huge investment he made to the campaign and emergence of Buhari in 2015. Though Amaechi may not be as influential as Kyari and Daura, he is respected as he is touted to be one of those who financially made Buhari’s emergence a reality. He is one of the young minds of President Buhari alongside the likes of Kayode Fayemi and Babatunde Fashola.
ISMAILIA ISA FUNTUA
Like Daura, Funtua does not hold any political office in the government. He is said to be a personal friend of the president and the Chairman of Bulet International construction. It is reported that he has Buhari’s ears on national issues, including appointments. He has much influence on the President even more than those who are holding offices. He has been part of Buhari’s delegation on some of his foreign trips, including his official visit to the United States.
Danjuma, one of Nigeria’s most influential and respected senior military officers ever is known to be a power broker. He is always sought after by successive governments. That he was one of the major sponsors of Buhari’s Presidency is not a secret. With an interest in oil blocs, Danjuma, is an ardent believer in the Buhari project.
ABDULRAHMAN BELLO DAMBAZAU
Dambazau is the Minister of the Interior, and is believed to be the President’s eyes and ears as regards events happening within the country. His loyalty to the President became a factor for consideration when he President was away to London for medication. Many have concluded that he was going to be recalcitrant to the Vice President Osinbajo until he declared loyalty on his own. His involvement in the reinstatement of Maina in the popular Mainagate episode revealed his great influence on the President. As at today, he has not been cautioned not reprimanded for his roles. He served as Chief of Army Staff between 2008 and 2010.
Buratai is the current Chief of Army Staff, and one of unofficial second in command to the President as the Commander-in-Chief. He is also touted as the President’s eye on the military front, and commands a lot of influence in the administration. This is why of all the allegations of corruption against him in recent times, including the Dubai houses saga, he has remained unperturbed and unruffled.
His operational deployments include Military Observer at the United Nations Verification Mission II in Angola, Op HARMONY IV in the Bakassi Peninsular, OP MESA, Op PULO SHIELD, Op SAFE CONDUCT, MNJTF, Op ZAMAN LAFIYA and Op LAFIYA DOLE.
The list is not concluded without mentioning most APC stalwarts who had stood solidly behind the president, and has benefited and continued to benefit from the present administration.
One question though; are these the members of the so called cabal? Your case is as good as mine.