In Buhari’s loose cabinet?

By  Ita Offiong

At the inception of this administration, Nigerians received though with a grain of salt, the story of the purported cold war among the security agencies in charge of the president’s security. It was reported that there was inter-agency tussle of which of them should be in charge of the security in the presidency. For instance when the Nigerian Army Intelligence Corps, (NAIC) was posted to beef up security at strategic positions within the premises of the State House, they were denied access by the DSS, until after a series of meeting. This brouhaha would not have surfaced in a properly coordinated system. That early sign of obvious lack of systemic coordination has regrettably been a recurring feature of this administration.
The fact that there is a clear lack of cohesiveness in the Buhari-led cabinet is no longer news, as subsequent developments in the polity have continued to give credence to this view. The DSS damning report which effectively prevented the Ibrahim Magu’s confirmation as the substantive chair of EFCC by the Senate is a case in point. This portrayed the DSS as directly indicting the president for the second time since Magu was renominated by no less a personality than the president himself. This development left unanswered questions in the mouths of many political watchers. Why did the DSS for instance have to forward that report to the Senate instead of the presidency, in view of the fact that the presidency had reportedly cleared Mr. Magu? This smacked of an affront on the authority of the president.
Recently there have been media reports suggesting a possible cold war between the Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN and the Ag Chairman of EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu over issues of autonomy of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) which has been under the Commission since its establishment in2006. Ordinary, the move by the Minister to separate NFIU from EFCC ought not to be seen as a personal issue since there has been a global demand for it. Recall the present composition of EFCC led to the suspension of Nigeria from Egmont group of Financial Intelligence Unit in China a couple of months ago.
With the looming threat of a future expulsion of the country from Egmont group, a corroborative effort to avert such ugly development should be the concern of all, since this would cast doubt on the integrity of the graft war of this government internationally. If the president had asserted his authority on this, there would have been no such grouse.
Also, the recent war of attrition between the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption- Prof. Itsey Sagay, SAN and the leadership of All Progressive Congress (APC) over who is the alleged ‘rogue elephant’ actually destroying the party. While the party is not immediate composite of the cabinet but by extension, it is an extended executive since the president is both the head of the executive and the ruling party. Therefore such overt altercation by people who are all subordinates to the same authority smacks of a divided house.
Another case here is the recent feud between the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources- Dr. Ibe Kachikwu and the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru which gained publicity in that leaked memo from the Minister. Dr. Kachikwu had raised some allegations of malfeasance against the GMD over the criminal award of over $24 billion contract and other issues bordering on insubordination and highhandedness.
While other similar sundry conflicts of interests may be insidiously brewing in other ministries, the most worrisome issue here is the allegation by the Minister that he resorted to writing since he could not access the president. If a serving member of the cabinet repines over his inability to meet the president, then the much talked about existence of cabal in the presidency may after all not be a farce.
The president should know that whoever is preventing the people from having audience with him on national issues is an enemy within. Best governance practice the world over advocates open door policy as a way of carrying the people along, therefore preventing key officials from regular consultations with the president under any guise is not in the best interest of the president and indeed not in the national interest.
There should be an urgent re-deployment of overzealous aids and the immediate dismantling of the purported cabal in the presidency to enable the president feel the direct pulse of the many Nigerians who thronged out to thump-print for him during the last general election.

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