When he was sworn in as president on May 29, 2015, Muhammadu Buhari’s approval rating was very high. Two years later, the president has become so unpopular with many doubting if he can return to power in 2019, no thanks to the people appointed by him. Tobi Soniyi, Segun James and Shola Oyeyipo list the ten persons constituting a drag on the presidency
“You are only as good as your team”, Dominique Wilkins.
The enthusiasm with which President Muhammadu Buhari was welcomed as president in May 29, 2015 has continued to wane partly because some of the people he appointed into positions have let him down.
The problem, however is that the president is too trusting and has been unable to come to the reality that some of his appointees are the source of the scandals now threatening to derail his government.
Like his predecessor in office, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, his unpopularity is not majorly as a result of his doings, but due to the activities of persons he appointed to positions. Since he appointed them, the president would still have to take the blame.
Through their actions and omissions, some of the people appointed into offices by the president continue to make enemies for him. They have continued to alienate the president’s diehard supporters from him. They can afford to do so, because unlike the president, they are not seeking elective posts, otherwise, they would have chosen to act differently.
It is bad enough that the same people the president brought on board to help him deliver his electoral promises have turned out to be the clog in the wheel of progress, it is even worse that the president has chosen to retain them. That is what the voters and the president’s supporters could not understand. Because by retaining them, the president gives the impression that he approves of what they do. Yet some of the things they do directly contradict the pledges made by the president during the campaign. For instance, the president promised to shun corrupt practices, but some of his appointees appear to embrace corruption.
From all indications, the president may not necessarily be a bad man, but he has surrounded himself with some people whose actions, way of life and outlook to national issues are parochial, narrow, religious and ethnic.
A president that was once considered the father of all, is now being seen as a religious jingoist and a tribal leader who would do anything for people from his ethnic area and religious belief before looking at the merit of such action.
Here, we identify ten of such people who have made the president unpopular among Nigerians and are turning his war against corruption a huge joke. They have chosen to cloth the president in a borrow garment. Many still believe in Buhari, but to restore people’s confidence, the president would have to realise that his credibility is at stake. He has to stop being too trusting. He should not allow those who should be helping him to alienate him from the people.
1. The immediate past Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal
Thank God, the president finally summoned the courage to let him go.
In any government the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) is an important and sensitive one. It is usually reserved to the most trusted and political suave person as it is the engine room of government activities. Whether a government is going to fail or succeed, may rest squarely on the office of the SGF.
So it was not surprising nor was any eyebrow raised when Buhari appointed Mr. Babachir Lawal to the position of SGF.
However, the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE) was enmeshed in fraudulent activities under the office of the (SGF).
Although, details of the report of the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo-led committee that recommended that Lawal be removed from office have not been made public, so far the information in the public showed that the former SGF acted below the president’s expectation. If anything, he acted as if the president merely deceived Nigerians that he was coming to fight corruption. This happened under a government that came to power with a promise to fight corruption. It was this singular activity of Lawal that has exposed the anti corruption war of Buhari as false and to the opposition, a witch hunt.
He also carried on as if he was untouchable. May be he was but because Nigerians would not rest on their oars until the right thing is done, it is due to our collective resolve not to allow corruption to thrive that Nigerians insisted the president must get to the end of this. The media, the civil society and the people remain a potent power for good in any democracy. Together, we forced the president to take the decision he appeared uncomfortable and unwilling to take.
Although Lawal was initially suspended for his role in the “grass-cutting” scandal, it took a public outcry and over two months after the report submitted by the Osinbajo committee before he was sacked. Babachir David Lawal ranks first on the list of those who have made the president unpopular in the country.
2. Chief of Staff, Alhaji Abba Kyari
That the activities of president and the workings within the State House need a coordinator and an astute administrator who knows his onions is a given in any society. In order to do this effectively, a Chief of Staff is required.
This prompted the appointment of Alhaji Abba Kyari. However, it is unfortunate that the name of the Chief of Staff has come up in some transactions that should ordinarily not involve the office of the SGF. Remember the sudden reduction in the MTN fine?
Some have attributed the lopsidedness in some of the appointments made by the president to him. Many are also not satisfied with the job he is doing as the Chief of Staff. He ought to be winning friends to the side of the president but he seems to have helped the president made a lot of enemies including among his (president’s) cabinet. Some members of the cabinet don’t trust his judgment.
It is to beat him to his game that letters meant for the president have to leak before the president will act on such letters. Had the letter written to the president by the Minster of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu not leaked to the public, what transpired would have remained hidden to the public.
The video of him having an altercation with the Head of Service, Mrs. Winifred E. Oyo-Ita, which went viral recently did not portray the Chief of Staff in good light either.
Many did not approve of the decision of the president to appoint him into the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). They think that the Chief of Staff already has his hands full. Besides, there are other eminently qualified Nigerians who should have been appointed into the NNPC board. Or better still, he can step down as Chief of Staff to concentrate on his job as a board member.
The behaviour of Kyari has brought the president out as a weakling who is not in charge of the workings in his government. As a former newspaper editor, seasoned banker and lawyer, it is thought Kyari would be broadminded on issues.
But he has disappointed a lot of Nigerians since he took office as the chief of staff.
It could be that Kyari does not deserve the blames being heaped on him, but he must accept responsibility for not doing enough to help the president. He is ranked number two on the list of persons, who have made the president unpopular among Nigerians.
Elections are coming, it is therefore not too late for the Chief of Staff to change his style and begin to win more friends for the president.
3. Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai
That Tukur Buratai, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, loves power is not in doubt. He has exercised this to the consternation of many, a situation which has made him, probably the most hated army commander in recent history of Nigeria.
He first exhibited this when on a visit to Kaduna, the Kaduna, he ordered the soldiers in his convoy to open fire on defenceless members of the Shiite Muslim community who were on a procession on the route where his convoy was taking.
At the end, hundreds of people, including women and children were killed just because they have the effrontery to obstruct the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff!
At the end of the dastardly act, nothing was done. His men even arrested the head of the Shiite sect, Sheik El Zakzaky who remained in custody till date even against court orders.
Furthermore, he is also alleged to have acquired properties outside the shores of the country without proving how he got the money to buy such lavish home as he has been a soldier all his life. He denied personal ownership of property in Dubai, saying his “family” made investment in the Middle East city long before his appointment.
Mr. Buratai, a lieutenant-general, initially refuted the allegation, but later said his family invested in the property in 2013 when he was not yet the chief of army staff.
“Substantial property is just an investment, my family does their own private business they should afford to have such property in Dubai,” Buratai said.
The arrogance with which he dismissed 38 officers from the army without given some of them fair hearing, testified to his readiness to sacrifice due process to achieve his aims.
Buratai wields so much power that he ranks third in the list of those who make the president unpopular.
4. The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN)
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami will go down in history as the one who subjected the judiciary to the worst humiliation in the history of the nation. He is the hunter who killed the lion with his cap. He has put a Supreme Court Justice on trial for alleged corruption. Under his watch, judges’houses were raided over night. His office even kicked against the decision of the National Judicial Council recalling suspended judges even when three was no case against them.
But the Attorney General wrote letters to facilitate the return of a fugitive to Nigeria. He controversially wrote letters that paved the way for Abdulrasheed Maina to return back to the Nigerian civil service even though he is wanted for alleged fraud he committed when he was the chairman of the task force on pension reform.
The recall of Mr. Maina, who is still wanted for alleged N2 billion fraud by the anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has since been condemned by Nigerians and civil society groups who have even called for the dismissal of Malami, but he remains in office.
On April 27, Malami wrote to the Federal Civil Service Commission, (FCSC), requesting it to “give consequential effect to the judgment that voided the warrant of arrest issued against Maina which formed the basis for the query and his eventual dismissal,” Mustapha Sulaiman, the chairman of the FCSC said.
In other words, according to Mr. Sulaiman, the Attorney General in his letter with reference HAGF/FCSC/2017/VOL.1/3 requested Maina’s reinstatement based on a supposed court order voiding his arrest warrant. On the contrary, that was not what the judgement did. Malami owes the nation an apology. He had done incalculable damage to the president’s anti-corruption war.
So brazen was he that, even though the man was later dismissed by the president, he said Nigerians should have praised him for recalling the fugitive!
The justice minister is one person that courts controversy and all the intrigues that go with it.
Many lawyers say the justice minister keeps carrying on as if the office of the Attorney General is too big for him.
If Malami is not at war with the National Assembly, he is at daggers-drawn with his colleagues in government.
He was at war with the acting chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu as they battle over the control of high profile cases being handled by the commission.
One of the lawyers prosecuting cases for the justice ministry, Mr. Charles Adeogun-Phillips, had to withdraw from the trial of a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta citing bias.
With the role he played in the return of Maina, the justice minister created doubts in the minds of Nigerians regarding the commitment of the Buhari government to the fight against corruption. With that Malami enters the list as number four.
5. Minister of the Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau
A former Chief of Army Staff, Abdulrahman Dambazau was also a controversial army chief.
The decision to re-instate Maina back to the civil service was taken between Malami and Dambazau. Following Malami’s letter to the FCSC, a meeting was held on June 14thwhere it “deliberated on the Attorney General of the Federation’s letter and requested the Office of the Civil Service of the Federal vide letter FC.4029/82/VOL.III/160 of 21st June 2017 to advise the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Interior to consider the AGF’s letter, the Officer’s case and make appropriate recommendations to the commission,” Sulaiman’s letter to Maina and the Head of Service on September 18 reads.
At a meeting held on June 22, the Senior Staff Committee of the Interior Ministry headed by Dambazau, deliberated on the letter and recommended that Maina be reinstated to his former position as deputy director, at the Interior Ministry. His office initially shifted the blame for the mproper way Maina was recalled on the Head of Service. However, when the HOS spoke, Dambazau had to keep quiet. Nigerians are not deceived. Dambazau, by his action and the way the interior ministry is being run under his watch claimed his position as number five on the list of people who have made the president unpopular.
6. Director General, Department of State Security, Mr Lawal Daura
If there is one person whose activities as a security chief have embarrassed the president the most, it is the Director-General of the Directorate of State Security (DSS), Mr. Lawal Daura. It was he who brazenly and without regards to national feeling and federal character recruited people from his Katsina home state and the north to the detriment of other states. Although, the Presidency came to his defence by saying that the recruitment was to correct some imbalance in the department, there was no proof to support such claim.
He seems to have forgotten that without the votes from other states, Buhari would not have become president and he would not have become the DG SSS. With that recruitment, Buhari will have a tough time persuading people from other zones to vote for him.
Although, the Presidency downplayed the letter written by him to the Senate to stop the confirmation of Magu as EFCC chairman, many observers, including past presidents considered that singular act as insubordination. That was an embarrassment to the president. It was also an indication that there was confusion within the Presidency.
Magu is one of the few people who have helped this administration. Trying to discredit him will certainly affect what this government stands for.
Daura’s handling of the arrest of judges also gave him out as someone who has no respect for the rule of law. His high handedness means that the president will have some explanation to make when it is time to beg people for their votes. The president will be well advised not take him along during the campaign.
7. Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris
When he was appointed, expectation was high. But the new Inspector General of Police disappoints. He has been at loggerheads with the Police Service Commission over promotion. Under what he called special promotion, junior officers were promoted above their seniors.
The senator representing Bauchi Central Senatorial District, Hamman Misau, spoke the minds of many policemen when he accused the IG of corruption.
Rising through order 43 on the Senate floor, Misau disclosed that the IG was in extra marital affairs with one Amina and another Esther, but eventually wedded Amina secretly in Kaduna after she became pregnant.
“The IGP has been in sexual relationship with two female serving Police officers, that is one Amina and Esther. He impregnated Amina and did a wedding secretly in Kaduna.”
“As a former Police officer, I can say authoritatively that it is wrong for an officer to have a relationship with female Police officer because of the nature of that work”, Misau stated.
The police boss came under intense public castigation when Misau, a former police officer explained that he was being attacked by the IGP because he revealed his corrupt activities.
Now, the Senate had set up an eight-member adhoc committee chaired by Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Francis Alimikhena (APC, Edo North), to investigate allegations of corruption, nepotism, and misuse of office leveled against Mr Idris by Senator Misau.
The committee is also to investigate the IGP on alleged misappropriation of funds, illegal promotion, posting of senior officers along with the claim that he impregnated a female police officer.
The irony of this is: investigator is now being investigated! With this, Idris enters the list as number seven.
However, instead of submitting himself to investigation to clear his name, he found a willing tool in the justice minister who had helped him filed charges against Misau for daring to accuse the IG of corruption.
8. Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Jumai Alhassan
Popularly called Mama Taraba, Mrs. Aisha Alhassan was the APC governorship candidate in Taraba in 2015, an election she narrowly lost to the current Peoples Democratic Party governor.
She should not be condemned for speaking out her mind. However, etiquette demands that having taken the position she took, she should be bold enough to quit the government. While continuing to serve under a government you do not believe in?
She is one proof that disloyalty also has its rewards. Several weeks after she gave a damning assessment of the president, she is still in her position, a situation which has painted the president as indecisive and weak.
She told former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar that he had her support for the 2019 presidential election despite the fact that she is a serving minister in the government of Buhari.
With this, she earned her position on the list of those who made the president unpopular.
The president does not seem to understand how much damage he is bringing upon himself with his decision to retain Alhassan. If a minister who is working closely with the president believes that the president does not deserve a second time why should a voter watching the president from afar support him for the second time? For her position, Aisha Alhassan earns her place as one of the people appointed by the president who turned around to make him unpopular.
9. Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun
If there is another person Nigerians believe is responsible for their woes under the APC government, it is the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun. While many agree that some of the factors are beyond her control, they believe that her response to the economic challenges had not been satisfactory.
She may have had the misfortune of being the finance minister at such a difficult economic period, there is no way she can absolve herself of the economic woes that Nigerians were plunged into through no fault of theirs except voting for the APC.
Although latest statistics show the country is making gains economically, the people are not feeling the impact of the recovery. There appears to be a disconnect between what the statistics say and what most households are going through.
Except the government finds a miraculous way to turn the economy around, Adeosun, will continue to be held responsible for the economic hardship.
On the economic front, many believe that the minister has let the president down. The economy may be the decider of who will win the next presidential election. If she does not want the president to lose the election because of the economy, the finance minister will have to up her games because as things stand now, her boss is already in trouble with the voters.
Although government is flaunting positive economic statistics, most Nigerians do not share such optimism.
10. Minister for Sports and Youths Development, Mr Solomon Dalung
Given Nigerians attachment to sports, it is unfortunate that the sports ministry was handed over to a man who appeared to lack the understanding of what it takes to drive sports. The khaki and red beret-wearing politician, hardly misses an opportunity to demonstrate the fact that he lacks the tacts to handle sensitive issues.
He aggravated the leadership crisis rocking the Nigerian Football Federation after FIFA had recognized Amaju Pinnick. Then at Rio Olympics, he embarrassed Nigeria when Team Nigeria appeared in tracksuits because the outfits for the event failed to get to Rio on time.
Nigerians have not forgotten how his incompetence left the Samson Siasia-led under 23 team to the Olympics stranded in Atlanta because the team could not find a suitable aircraft to take them to Rio. His response to questions about the logistics problem the team faced was equally shocking. He was once labeled anti-sports minister. When he makes a gaffe as is usual the case, Dalung would claim that he was misquoted.
Of all the ministers in Buhari’s cabinet, none faced stronger opposition and call for his removal than Dalung. Only the president knows why he opted to retain him for so long amidst raging criticisms. Not many people expected him to survive in the government till this moment.
Obviously, Dalung has not had it very easy with critics who have been urging the president to do away with him, more so as heads a ministry that oversees sports and youths, two areas that arouse great passion in Nigerians. The minister is also learning to keep quiet and by so doing avoid problems. Nevertheless, he is one of the appointees who have not helped the president.