By Seye Olaniyonu
The past two weeks has been dominated by public mudslinging by appointees of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Indeed, the latest is the public show of shame between the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen Godswin Akpabio and former acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Joy Nunieh.
This type of in-fighting between appointees of President Buhari points to a disturbing pattern; one that has characterised this administration since it came to power in 2015. Also, this pattern of internal wrangling also characterises the All Progressives Congress (APC). While Buhari could be absolved of the fights in his party, his appointees are under his direct control.
Here are the top 10 battles between individuals who have served and currently serve under Mr. Buhari.
MALAMI VS MAGU
This fight is not just a scramble between the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; as well as the suspended former acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu. It is a trial of the anti-corruption mantra of President Buhari.
Prior to the suspension and investigation of Magu; there has been a long battle between the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and the two anti-graft agencies; the EFCC and ICPC. In 2017, Malami asked for control over prosecutions.
Inability of the Buhari government to control the face-off has transformed it to a full blown battle. While Magu appears to be the first casualty, this ongoing saga could indeed be a Pandora box; with revelations placing huge question marks on the anti-corruption drive of the President.
LAWAL DAURA VS MAGU
The disgraced former Director General of the Department of State Services; Lawal Daura cast the first salvo that could have ended Mr. Magu’s career. The Senate rejected Mr. Magu’s nomination as EFCC boss based on Mr. Daura’s letter to the Senate.
The conclusion of that letter reads; “In the light of the foregoing, Magu has failed the integrity test and will eventually constitute a liability to the anti-corruption drive of the present administration.”
Magu survived Lawal’s damning letter as the President kept him in acting capacity; surviving Lawal who was later disgraced out of office by the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo. This came after a siege on the National Assembly by the SSS.
Indeed, the crisis between the two agencies almost led to a shoot-out in 2017. Men of the DSS had reportedly obstructed the EFCC during an attempt to arrest former DSS boss, Mr. Ita Ekpeyong.
KYARI VS MONGUNO
The National Security Adviser to the President, Babangana Monguno in a memo in December 2019; literally accused the late chief of Staff, Abba Kyari of undermining the President. An action many legal experts interpreted as treasonable felony.
Monguno in that letter said; “Such acts and continued meddlesomeness by the Chief of Staff have not only raptured our security and defence efforts; but have slowed down any meaningful gain that Mr. President has sought to achieve.”
While Kyari maintained his customary silence during the crisis, the memo featured on almost all primetime political talk show. Further, it served as a weapon of attack against Kyari whom many had accused of heading the imaginary “cabal”.
PROF. ADEWOLE VS NHIS
In 2017, Prof Isaac Adewole, the former Minister of Health ordered the suspension of the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Yusuf Usman over all
The suspension subsequently led to a media battle between the two, with allegations and counter-allegations of corruption. The report of the panel set up by the former minister indicted Prof. Usman. However, the suspended Usman was reinstalled in February 2018 by President Buhari, until he was finally sacked in 2019.
Aside the media battle, Prof. Yusuf also dragged Prof Adewole, the Attorney General and the NHIS to the court. Also, he challenged the powers of the board of the NHIS to remove him. During the saga, the former NHIS Executive Secretary blatantly ignored the suspension; perhaps due to mixed signals or “body language” of the presidency.
KYARI VS OYO-ITA
The scandalous re-instalment of the former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms; Abdulrasheed Maina led to an angry confrontation between the late Chief of Staff and former Head of Service, Wifred Oyo-ita.
Reports indicated that Oyo-Ita in the leaked memo stated that Buhari was aware of the reinstatement of Maina; adding that she warned Mr. President against such a move. The confrontation which happened at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) was witnessed by almost everyone, with cameras rolling.
ABIKE DABIRI VS PANTAMI
Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) and the Minister of Communications, Isa Pantami threw decorum to the winds; each accusing the other of lying on social media.
Mrs. Dabiri, in an interview with SaharaTV accused the minister of denying her access to an office space; given to her commission by the Nigeria Communications Commission.
“In one year, we don’t even have an office. The office we got which was given to us by NCC; we were actually driven away by the Honorable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr. Isa Pantami.
‘‘Within two days, he drove us out, with guns. What happened? The place was given to us by NCC. You know we all help each other. NCC as an agency of government said there is a place you can use. We settled in and just as we settled in, I was in Ethiopia when I got a call. I thought it was a joke.
‘‘I came back from Ethiopia on Thursday. This happened on Tuesday. By Friday when I went to the office, armed men had taken over the place. I thought it was a joke.’’
However, in a swift reaction, Pantami had responded; “THIS IS A FAT LIE FROM HER. The owner of the building @NgComCommission has faulted her lies on their social media platforms. The minister has never given that directives to any gunman. We need to be very objective in reporting. I have never sent any gunmen there & I have no one.”
In what further escalated into a verbal exchange, Dabiri-Erewa accused Pantami of disrespecting women.
“Islamic scholar should not lie Hon Minister (Ph.D). You did that to me because I am a woman. Your disrespect for women is legendary. Left the ugly incident behind me since Feb. But please release all our office equipment. Public office is transient.”
NGIGE VS NSITF
Three weeks ago, the in-fighting between appointees of President Buhari was between the Minister of Labour and Employment; Chris Ngige and the management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund led by the Managing Director, Bayo Somefun.
The Minister suspended management of the agency under his supervision for allegedly squandering N3.4 billion for the training of non-existing staff. The management of the fund refused to acknowledge the suspension. Further, it challenged the powers of the minister to do such.
On the 7th of July, the House of Representatives intervened in the fight. During a debate on a motion, the Chairman, House Committee on Finance, James Faleke dropped a bombshell on Ngige.
“The minister has abused his office. If I were to be the president, I would have him removed based on fact. The NSIF submitted its budget to him (2019 budget). He single-handedly altered the figures. When the men and women of that agency challenged him, he threatened to remove them. He inserted N2billion ‘commission on collection’ projects, something that had never happened in that agency.
“We have Ministers, especially this particular Minister. He single-handedly nominated contractors that supplied vehicles worth N305 million last year. The Executives of NSITF said they will not execute that budget. He needs the management and Executive of that agency to be out of the office, so that he can implement that budget.
“He felt he would not have control over the things he inserted if the people should remain, and the only way is to send them away. As lawmakers, we are entitled to Camry cars as official vehicles. But a minister is entitled to a convoy of vehicles by the ministry. However, this is not enough for Ngige. He went ahead to compel this parastatal to buy him a Toyota Land Cruiser and a Hilux in 2019. The same minister has inserted four SUV into the 2020 budget, which these men have said no to. That they will not implement it. That is the issue.”
SALE MAMMAN VS AMOBI
Marilyn Amobi, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company Limited (NBET); is the proverbial cat with nine lives, considering the attempt by the Minister of Power, Sale Mamman to sack her.
However, in June, the President approved the sack of Amobi. This also points to the constant battles between the appointees of Mr. Buhari.
MONGUNO VS DAURA LAWAL
Before his disgraceful dismissal as the former intelligence chief; Lawal Daura appeared to have accumulated enemies in what appears to be a battle of supremacy.
In 2015, PREMIUM TIMES obtained a memo sent by Mr. Buhari’s aide de camp, Mohammed Abubakar, a lieutenant colonel; dated June 24, ordering SSS operatives to stay away from the interior of Aso Rock presidential villa. Specifically, the memo restricted them to the perimeters of the villa.
Mr. Abubakar said SSS operatives should steer clear of areas such as; “Admin Reception, Service Chiefs Gate, Residence Reception, Rear Resident, Resident Gate, Office Reception, C-In-C Control Office, ACADE Gate, C-IN-C Control Gate and Panama”.
“However, the personnel of the DSS in conjunction with other security forces are to man other duty beats/locations located within the immediate outer perimeter of the Presidential Villa,” he said in the memo.
These series of actions according to media reports led to a strained relationship between the two men.
AKPABIO AND JOY NUNIEH
In the past few days, the nation has been treated to a comedy show. The saga is between the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen Godswill on one hand; and former acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Joy Nunieh.
This unfolding drama is the latest in a similar pattern of a show of shame. It has all the ingredients of a national scandal, sexual harassment accusation, yes! Use of police in an embarrassing manner, absolutely, late drama! O yes!
Another party has joined into the fray. The House of Representatives has also been dragged into the allegations and counter-allegations. On Thursday, the Chairman, House Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Olubumi Ojo was asked by the acting Managing Director of the NDDC; Prof. Daniel Pondei to recuse himself. The argument by Prof Pondei is that Mr. Ojo is conflicted.
In fact, the Governor of Rivers, Nyesom Wike on Thursday stormed the house of Mrs. Joy in Port Harcourt; following a report that armed police men were standing guard to prevent her from testifying before the House committee on Niger Delta Affairs.
In fact, this drama is still a developing one. However, the main question is: Would there be an end to this?