Amid widespread public apprehension that President Muhammadu Buhari has abdicated his official responsibilities and outsourced power to his chief of staff, Abba Kyari who has illegally running the country as de facto president, stakeholders are seeking the intervention of the National Assembly to summon Kyari and National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-General Babagana Monguno (rtd) – the “two Borno boys” to explain why the security architecture of Nigeria has collapsed since the president himself has refused publicly address the issues Monguno raised against Kyari in a leaked December 2019 memo.
Nigerians were astonished by the startling revelations of the alleged surrogate role being played for Buhari by Kyari, as outlined in the memo, purportedly written by Monguno; which exposed the underbelly of bad blood within the presidency. In the memo, Monguno accused Kyari of undue interference on matters bordering national security, among other allegations.
Curiously, there has been no official communication and the presidency has kept mum over the matter since it broke last Monday. Neither of the presidential spokesmen, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, could be reached to comment on the matter. The duo have ignored all phone calls and text messages sent to them for reaction by reporters. Curiously too, other cabinet members have refrained from voicing their opinion over the saga still in the public domain.
But other Nigerians who have been following developments in the villa, have blamed some of the administration’s missteps on Buhari’s seeming lukewarm disposition to governance. Although, many have called for the immediate sacking of the two “Borno Boys” (Monguno and Kyari) for the incalculable opprobrium the leak has brought to the presidency, others have argued that it is unlikely that Buhari will wield the big stick.
It took ages for the president to sack Babachir Lawal, his first Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), who was embroiled in a corruption scandal barely one year after he assumed office. It took a National Assembly probe and a parallel probe at the level of the executive, chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo before the SGF was removed from office in October 2017 after a six- month suspension. Then, there was the unresolved riddle of the reappearance, double promotion, and disappearance of Abdulrasheed Maina, former chairman, Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform. He had been dismissed from the civil service in 2013 and declared wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for corruption before Buhari assumed office.
Although the president reportedly ordered Maina’s sacking in October 2017, he remained at large until recently when operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) apprehended him. These two widely reported corruption cases directly within the presidency, many argued, contradict Buhari’s advertised claim to zero tolerance for misdeeds.
Even the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has claimed it had no information on the altercation between the NSA and Kyari. APC National Vice Chairman for South-South, Hilliard Eta, was quoted as saying he would not bare his mind on the issue because he did not have relevant information on the matter. “I don’t know what you are talking about. I am not aware of any crack in the presidency because I don’t have any information on the issue,” Eta said. Attempts to reach the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole or the national publicity secretary of the party, Lanre Issa-Onilu, to speak on the issue failed as they neither pickup nor returned phone calls put to him.
The view of the Chairman of the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO), Niyi Akinsiju, was that he would not hastily speak on an issue that was in the realm of speculations. “We cannot actually take a stand on the issue because it is not an official rendition of the happenings in the presidential villa. For us to take a stand, we must understand the content of the issue. So we just have to leave it as it is for now,” he said.
But some opposition political parties and some groups yesterday flayed the presidency for keeping mute on the faceoff between Monguno and Kyari. In separate telephone conversations, the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kola Ologbondiyan; National Chairman of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Dr. Yunusa Tanko; Deputy National Chairman (Southwest), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Dr. Olu Agunloye; and the National Chairman, African Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Ralph Nwosu, said it was important for the National Assembly to quickly wade into the matter by summoning both Kyari and Monguno to explain why the security architecture of Nigeria collapsed.
They also said the legislative arm needed to invite President Buhari to explain to Nigerians why insecurity has enveloped the entire nation under his leadership. The PDP spokesman described Buhari’s attitude to the issue as a mere display of arrogance and indifference to the security of the lives and property of Nigerians. The NCP national chairman said the scenario should be embarrassing to the presidency. “That must have formed part of the reason Buhari couldn’t come out to speak on the matter. It shows that there is no leadership at the centre.”
ADC’s Nwosu said Nigeria did not have a government as “the presidency is without a leader at present.” While he urged INEC to deregister the All Progressives Congress (APC) for allegedly failing to live up to the expectation of Nigerians, Nwosu described the faceoff between the NSA and the chief of staff as scandalous. “A situation where Nigerians are being killed on a daily basis, two government officials whose offices are key to ensuring security are at war and our president is unperturbed. The National Assembly should act fast to resolve the situation.”
Agunloye said there was nothing new in Buhari’s attitude to governance. He stressed: “When Buhari ruled as military head of state, it was his second in command, the late Gen. Tunde Idiagbon that was in control. When he was the chairman of the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), a consultant ran the show, and now as president, we know who is in charge, and not him.”
The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, described the presidency as dysfunctional. “It is possible to see four ministers speaking as if they were representing four different governments. It is shocking that the person Nigerians elected as their leader has outsourced power to another person.”