• Aisha outburst exposes crack in Presidency
By DICKSON OMONODE
THIS is certainly a turbulent time for the Presidency. The seat of power is gradually showing signs of deepening crack within the rank and file of the principal officers at the seat of power. The unhealthy political underpinnings over the exclusion of notable political leaders who contributed immensely to the election success of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015 from Federal Government patronage have been generating internal conflicts. Certain principal officers in the Presidency and the Federal Executive Council have, at different times, been identified to have constituted a cabal controlling affairs in Aso Rock.
The outburst of the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, in an interview with the Hausa service of the British Broadcasting Service (BBC), last week, over a cabal that has hijacked the Federal Government has set inferno in the Presidency over the need to liberalize the Buhari administration and open the party-government to wide participation by party leaders.
Several stakeholders in the polity have expressed the view that Aisha has justified earlier alarm raised by the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, that a cabal has hijacked the Buhari administration.
Accordingly, the outburst of the wife of President Buhari further revealed the depth of crack in the APC- Government. This reflected in the view of APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Timi Frank, on the widely publicized BBC interview with Aisha, while the President’s media team has been battling with the issue damage control in the flow of information from the Villa.
The outburst of the President’s wife came at a time the APC is engulfed in deepening conflicts involving reputable party leaders who were in the vanguard of the negotiation, formation, registration and the ultimate victory of the party in the 2015 elections.
Certain forces in the Party-Government have also been perceived to be mobilizing the machinery of government at their behest against some party leaders who are bitter over their alienation from the sharing of the fruits of electoral victory.
The crisis between the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, which erupted penultimate week, is still causing deepening crack in the party. That crisis is yet to be resolved to the satisfaction of the political actors.
Before the Tinubu outburst, APC stakeholders identified as “Abuja Force” were on rampage to dismantle Tinubu’s political dynasty in the South West, experimenting with the Ondo State governorship election ticket.
In Kano State, former Governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso has been under siege. Kwankwaso led Kano to deliver the highest bloc votes to the APC in the presidential election. The machinery of government at both the federal and state levels are being mobilized in support of incumbent Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje to crush the political structures of Kwankwaso in Kano.
More so, there have been wide complaints of incompetence against the political appointees managing the country’s economy, essentially, since the recession began, and demands for rejigging the cabinet. Among these political appointees, nominees of reputable APC leaders were not considered by President Buhari.
The situation is such that northern leaders have also joined the league of stakeholders in the country complaining of bad governance under the current administration. The leaders at a meeting acquainted Buhari that there is hardship, hunger and starvation in the land, reminding the President of the need for urgent adjustment in political appointments.
The APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary had in a statement at the weekend, maintained that “Mrs. Aisha Buhari made her feelings known in good faith for the betterment of Nigeria and Nigerians.”
Timi Frank was of the view that the statement of the Wife of the President in that interview, is a reflection of the feelings among many APC members.
Frank stated that Mrs. Buhari deserves commendation. “What Mrs. Buhari has said is not different from what some of us have been saying that it is time the President shake up his cabinet and bring in people who understand the manifestoes of the party and can help the party deliver on its change mantra, especially, in the area of the economy of the country which needs urgent attention,” Frank had declared.
The APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary also remarked: “Some of our leaders like the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, have made this same observation in the past and I think they meant well for the administration and the country. I will also join them in appealing to the President to do the needful.”
He added: “We should not forget in a hurry that this is what the former First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, failed to do to her husband when few people hijacked his government and brought the government down.”
Frank urged the President to act fast and correct some of the issues currently threatening the existence of the party.
The Presidency has, however, been trying to redeem the image of the institution over the president’s remark that the wife belongs to the kitchen, bedroom and other rooms, saying that Buhari was only joking. “My friends, can’t a leader get a sense (of) humour anymore? Mr. President laughed before that statement was made,” Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, had said.
But the President insisted his wife should stay out of politics.
The Senate President had in a statement, penultimate week, contended that the forgery charges filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, represented a violation of the principle of the Separation of Powers between the Executive branch and the Legislative branch of government. He emphasized that the trumped up charges are only another phase in the relentless persecution of the leadership of the Senate.
“…what has become clear is that there is now a government within the government of President Buhari who have seized the apparatus of Executive powers to pursue their nefarious agenda,” Saraki declared.
The Presidency, in a countering statement by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser on Media, had declared: “This claim by Senator Saraki would have been more worth the while, if it had been backed with more information. If he had proceeded to identify those who constitute the ‘government within the government,’ it would have taken the issue beyond the realm of fiction and mere conjecture. But as it stands, the allegation is not even worth the paper on which it was written, as anybody can wake from a troubled sleep, and say anything.”
Mrs. Aisha Buhari, however, in her interview with the BBC affirmed the existence of a government within her husband’s government, though she first acknowledged that she is not in government.
The President’s wife also acknowledged that people brought the APC government into power, noting that “more than half of those people are not appointed into the government.” She protested: “Some people that are not politicians, not professionals, were brought into the government. They don’t even know what we said we want and what we don’t during the campaign.”
“The way things are going I too I am not happy. We are just starting, we have not finished. Some people that worked for the government have not been appointed. But those heading government agencies, you can find one fighting his state governor, they contested together during election one in APC while in PDP, Aisha Buhari said.
She protested that nobody voted five times but once in the 15.429 million votes that gave APC victory. “I am pleading to them to have the people at heart and embrace everybody so that we can all move together. Not even now in 2016 or 2017, lot of people are creating divisions within the APC, which is our source of concern,” the President’s wife declared.
She added: “They think they have worked for the government while some of those appointed into government have no voter’s card. What I fear is uprising of 15.4 million people.”
The President’s wife had also said that, “out of the people he (Buhari) has appointed, take 50, 45 of them, I don’t know them. Perhaps he doesn’t know them too. I have been living with him for 27 years.”
She reiterated that they don’t have voters card, advocating: “they should give chance to those that have; they are the ones that struggled and know what we want to do.” She complained that, “Some of them, if you go to a meeting with them they will tell you, we are not politicians. If somebody is wise, they will not accept to take any political office. They didn’t even work for it.”
She expressed fear over some people she admitted have hijacked the government, and the looming uncertainties towards 2019.
Subsequently, President Buhari, while in Germany, dismissed the reports that his wife said his government has been hijacked by those who played no role in its emergence.
The President, in laughter, said, “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.” He added: “I claim superior knowledge over her and the rest of the opposition, because in the end, I have succeeded. It is not easy to satisfy the whole Nigerian opposition parties or to participate in the government.”
Consequently, members of the House of Representatives have resolved to investigate all appointments into Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) from the inception of the Buhari administration.
It was gathered that the resolution of the lawmakers followed the adoption of a motion by Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), who argued that the failure of the Federal Government to comply with the Federal Character principles in appointments/recruitments into public offices and government agencies has negatively affected the country.
The lawmakers affirmed: “The concern and commentaries in the recent time about an apparent lop-sidedness and imbalance in appointments and sharing of posts into public offices by the federal government and some of its agencies in favour of certain zones negates Section 14 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended; insisting that, “The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice.”
They had maintained that, “Section 14 (3) of the Constitution also made it clear that ‘The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty, thereby, ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.” They observed that the Federal Character Commission was established to achieve this goal.