ASO ROCK WATCH: Buhari’s house of commotion, plus how the scales fell off the President’s eyes

The quiet rumblings in President Muhammadu Buhari’s kitchen cabinet fully exploded last week. The National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Monguno, in a leaked memo, published by large sections of the Nigerian press on February 17, 2020, accused the Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Abba Kyari, of meddling with issues of national security and hijacking the powers of the President.

The author intended maximum damage and so pushed the memo as far as he could. The memo, dated December 9, 2019, with a title: “Disruption of National Framework by Unwarranted Meddlesomeness,” was not just sent to Kyari, it was copied to all the Service, Intelligence and Security Chiefs, Ministers of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Police Affairs.

Monguno, in the memo alleged that Kyari wrote two circulars on September 13 and November 26, 2019 respectively, with contents and directives which were not in alliance with President Buhari’s orders and that he convened and chaired meetings with heads of defence, security and intelligence agencies with their supervising Ministers in attendance.

Monguno didn’t stop at petitioning Buhari, he showed he was ready for a fight by warning Kyari, to desist from his ‘foolish’ acts and allow the established line of national security coordination by the President through the ONSA. He further stressed that Kyari’s job as it relates to security stops at conveying Mr. President’s written directives, not issuing directives.

The Presidency has painstakingly kept mum over this controversy which exposed the lack of cohesion in Buhari’s government. It is to be imagined the tension that has firmly gripped the country’s seat of power.

Kyari’s influence on Buhari had long been subject of public speculation. Indeed, many had openly accused him of having a vice-like hold on the President, exercising authority over government officials in the Presidency at will. How did he come about these enormous powers? It could be recalled that while President Buhari was addressing his new Ministers on August 21, 2019, he had stated: “In terms of coordinating communication, kindly ensure that all submissions for my attention or meeting requests be channelled through the Chief of Staff (Abba Kyari), while the Federal Executive Council matters are coordinated through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, to speed up the process of decision-making.”

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This directive, no doubt, helped place Kyari, in a very strategic position, thus, making the Borno State official Nigeria’s most powerful ‘gateman’. It has even been widely rumoured that Kyari saw to the appointment of top government officials in the Presidency and that he is instrumental to President Buhari’s deaf ears to the calls for the sack of the Service Chiefs.

While the face-off lasts, it must be admitted that the loud commotions within the presidency are clearly indicative of a weakened team spirit that is now impacting dangerously at the nation’s quest to fight its many battles within and without.

And, the scales fell off Buhari’s eyes

President Muhammadu Buhari, on February 19, 2020, during the launch of the House of Representatives’ Green Chamber Magazine: a publication by the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs reportedly spoke in defence of the jumbo salary and allowances earned by members of the National Assembly.

Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, averred that the lawmakers do not share money without working for it. Indeed, he concluded that Nigerians were wrong to think that the lawmakers were highly paid for doing nothing.

“Hitherto, the public perception of the National Assembly is that of a bicameral legislature where overly comfortable and highly-overpaid members merely stuff wads of currency notes into their pockets for little work. This wrong perception has resulted partly from lack of understanding of the enormous work of lawmakers, especially outside the glare of television cameras,” he noted.

Shehu Sani, the then Senator representing Kaduna Central, in 2018, stirred the hornet’s nest when he revealed that senators receive N13.5million as “running cost” monthly; aside a N750, 000 monthly consolidated salary and allowances which they also receive.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, on June 25, 2019, made a feeble attempt to paper over the issue while addressing members of the Senator’s Forum at the National Assembly, asserting that lawmakers do not earn jumbo salary. “I never believe there is anything called jumbo pay to the National Assembly. The National Assembly members receive what is their salary. I receive N750, 000 as my salary,” he claimed.

So, how did the scales fall off President Buhari’s eyes? Many believe that the ‘miracle’ follows the good working relationship he currently enjoys at the hands of the Lawan-led National Assembly: something he did not experience while Bukola Saraki was Senate President from 2015 – 2019.

By John Chukwu…

Source RipplesNigeria

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