Aso Rock Cabal: Jonathan Laughs Last

Ebere Chukwuma

Until he left office on May 29, 2015, Former President Goodluck jonathan, never escaped criticisms that he had allowed  the Ijaw cabal in the Presidency including Patience ,the then First lady to hijack his government.

The critics had claimed that he has no mind of his own as the cabal dictates to him what to do.  He was said to have done everything within his powers including making  sensitive political appointments and appointment of Service Chiefs, to prove that he was in full control of his government but that was how far he could go. The damage had already been done as former President Olusegun Obasanjo and other power brokers who could not have their hold on the government threw their weight on Muhammadu Buhari, the then Presidential  Candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC, who had made three previous attempts to rule the country through the ballot box but failed .

Many had expected that with Jonathan out of the way at Aso Rock,  the Seat of Power in Nigeria and with Buhari, a retired Army General and former Military Head of State on the saddle, the question of a cabal in the Presidency running the government would have disappeared. Instead, the cabal phenomenon in the Presidency had become more pronounced than ever.  

Former President Goodluck Jonathan: Not Spared By Critics Who Claimed A Cabal Was Running His Govt

Aisha Buhari, the First Lady , who many believe may have made several attempts to dictate to the retired Army General on what to do in his government including making  appointments but failed , may have fired the first shot when she confirmed that  a Cabal in the Presidency has hijacked Buhari’s government. 

 She may have been forced to speak out of frustration and  because of  alleged Complaints by those who were said to have contributed financially and otherwise to Buhari’s election as the president of Nigeria in 2015, which filtered into her ear.

There is no gain saying the fact that She may have used the excuse to calm aggrieved party Chieftains that Buhari will make amends. This is evident going by her comment: ” People who did not share the vision  of the ruling APC were now appointed  to top posts because of  the influence a few people wield”.

She had consistently accused three people  in the presidency who  had dominated the government to the disadvantage of those who  had worked for the victory of the party in the Presidential election of 2015. An angry First Lady had alleged that  the President  does not ”know 45 out of 50 of the people he had appointed into the government and I don’t know them either, despite being his wife for 27 years”. According to her, ”some people  are sitting  down in their  homes holding their arms only  for them to be called to come and head an agency or a ministerial position”

 But Buhari had dismissed the criticisms with a wave of the hand by making a joke out of it when he was confronted with the allegations in Germany by Journalists: the woman’s place is in the kitchen and the other room. The response drew laughter. 

Mrs. Buhari may have shown her anger about the alleged cabal in the Presidency when She called on women who were instrumental to the election of Buhari in the 2015 Presidential election to join forces to ”fight the two or three people  who had dominated the APC government”.

In a voice laden with emotion, at a women Forum in Abuja, She had said , ”Our votes were  15.4 million in the last Presidential election and after that only for us to be dominated by two or three people in government. This is unacceptable”. 

She is worried that instead of the women joining forces to fight the two or three influential individuals in the Presidency,” they keep visiting  them one after the other licking their shoes’.’

Her criticisms of a Cabal hijacking the Buhari’s  government may have opened the flood gate for others to follow suit to show that the  retired Army General has lost control of the government to a few people in the Presidency who now dominate the Administration.

Junaid Mohammed, a Chieftain of the Social Democratic Party, SDP,  had summed up his claim : whether one calls it Cabal, mafia or some kind of Cult or whatever , there is a group of people who are wielding power within the Presidency under Buhari. ”Whatever they say it is”, noting that their influence in the Presidency was worse now than under any other former political leader who had ruled the country between 1966 and now.

He may have hit the nail on the head  when he named Mamman Daura, a nephew of Buhari, Abba Kyari, Chief of Staff of the President and Boss Mustapha, former Managing Director, Nigeria Inland Water Ways Agency, NIWA, and now, the Secretary to the Federal government , who may have made the list with the exit of Babachir Lawal, his predecessor, after the President reluctantly bowed to pressure to sack him over Contract scam.

Other people who may not be in the Presidency, but were considered very influential  on the Buhari government , according to Junaid, were Nasir El-Rufai, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory and now governor of Kaduna state, Musa Bello, minister, FCT, Amina Zarkari, National Commissioner, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, who incidentally was appointed by former President Jonathan  at the instance of Buhari.

Aminu Tambuwal, former Speaker, House of Representatives and current governor of Sokoto state, was said to have also  accused the Cabal of taking advantage of Buhari’s sickness to hijack his government.  ”We are aware  that the President  is affected by serious challenges of health and is being  held captive  by a Cabal that runs the government for their pecuniary gains”, he had said.

The Katsina state born President may have thought that the issue of the Cabal running his government may have died down in 2017, until the allegations  came up again , barely two months to the 2019 general elections , an indication that all is not well in the Presidency.

 The President may have told those cares to listen that his government  was” never run or controlled  by cabals or powerful individuals”, as alleged by his wife and other critics. He claimed that he could tolerate the first Lady’s criticisms of his government because he is a ”Democrat’

He challenged the critics, to ”come out and say  those things  they feel were stage managed by  the cabal or what the cabal  had forced him to do”. Appealing to them to” mention just one thing’, Buhari , who  was amused by their lost of touch with the running of reality  declared, ”what they are saying is different from what is happening” in government.

He may have responded to the allegations to douse tension in the Presidency and to reassure his party supporters that the government has not slipped out of his grip. Many believe that what is happening to him was different from what past leaders had suffered in the hand of critics including Tafawa Balewa, a former Prime minister,  former President Shehu Shagari and late Musa Yar’adua.

Perhaps, the few political leaders who may have escaped the critics hammer were  the former military Heads of state and former President Obasanjo. This is where Buhari had to take it easy with his critics in responding to the allegations of a cabal running his government but face the security, health and educational challenges facing the country which are deteriorating by the day, political analysts remarked.

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