With the return of President Muhammadu Buhari from London, United Kingdom, where he spent 104 days receiving medical treatment, the cabal in the Presidency has again gained control of power and influence, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.
Penultimate Saturday, the President returned to the country to a warm reception by jubilant Nigerians, who thronged the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja and the roads leading to Aso Villa. Thousands of Buhari’s well-wishers also took to the streets in other parts of the country to rejoice over his long-awaited return.
The Buhari presidency has been dogged by persistent rumours and speculation that a group comprising some members of the President’s extended family and friends are the powers behind the throne. This group is said to have the ear of the President, influence policy-making and determine those who get major appointments.
Among those identified as being members of the cabal were: the President’s nephew, Mamman Daura; the father to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (Muhammed Bello) Musa Bello; the President’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari; Samaila Isa Funtua and a few others.
While Buhari was away, Osinbajo who stood for him as Acting President held sway and won the admiration of many Nigerians and foreigners for the life he injected into government. Although the Vice President was said to have consulted the President in London before taking major decisions, he reportedly did not consult the members of the cabal whose influence ebbed considerably during the period.
A source who is close to the president said, “While Buhari was away, they tried to ensure that Osinbajo was not in control of the government, by keeping away information from Osinbajo. Kyari’s main job in the villa is to make Osinbajo look bad.”
However, with the return of the President, the cabal is said to be back in power. Reliable sources who are privy to the goings-on in the corridors of power described the President’s return as ‘bittersweet’.
They claimed that with the President’s return, the cabal had taken over again.
“They seem to have a disproportionate influence on what he (Buhari) does, what he says, and who he appoints. This cannot be in doubt; it is the fact of the matter,” one of the sources said.
Speaking with SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday, a former member of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, confirmed the return of the cabal.
He said, “Off the cuff, one must mention Mamman Daura because he’s the kingpin and, in actual fact, he wields more power than the President. He knows; the President knows and those of them who are in government also know. After him, you have to mention the father to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Musa Bello.
“The son was made a minister, even though he has always been a card-carrying member of the Peoples Democratic Party. And, in fact, he was chairman of the National Hajj Commission for four years in a PDP administration. Then, when Buhari won, they made him a minister. Also, you have to mention the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, who is the pre-eminent lackey and errand boy of the mafia. You also have to include one character called Dr. Mahmud Tukur, the younger brother of Bamanga Tukur.
“Essentially, you can say that between the Buhari administration and the Kaduna Mafia is a revolving door. Once you come from the Kaduna Mafia, you occupy a very important position and there is no doubt about that — the same revolving-door policy was operated when he (Buhari) was Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund.
“The names I mentioned are the prominent members of the Kaduna Mafia. Again, it is not a (definitive) list because they keep coming in and out. But one thing about them is that they believe they have a divine right to dominate the North, and if they dominate the North, (they believe) they have a divine right to dominate Nigeria.”
Speaking also, a chieftain of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Alhaji Mohammed Abdulrahman, who also said he was a member of the famed Kaduna Mafia, confirmed the existence of the cabal and its undue influence on the President. He added that the most powerful member of the group had always exerted a great deal of influence on Buhari right from his days as a military head of state.
According to him, Gen. Tunde Idiagbon, Buhari’s lieutenant during his time as a military head of state, often complained about the hold that Daura had on Buhari.
“Since his days as the military head of state, Buhari has been under the influence of Daura. It was because of the funny ways Daura and his people acted during Buhari’s regime that led IBB to overthrow him. You know what? Even Tunde Idiagbon complained about Mamman Daura.
“Whenever we went to Lagos in those days, we spent some time in his house and discussed national issues. Idiagbon discussed with us most of the actions he was taking then. Idiagbon said people like Daura were manipulating him (Buhari),” Abdulrahman disclosed.
Mohammed added that the cabal perfected a strategy that had helped them to sideline the vice president. “What they do is, they make sure they second-guess Osinbajo, what he’s going to do and then they go ahead and get Buhari to commit to a contrary opinion or a contrary line of action. They first try to see what he is likely to do; they don’t go and tell Buhari, ‘This is what Osinbajo is planning to do.’ They get Buhari to commit — sometimes, publicly — to a view, policy or thrust, which is contrary to what Osinbajo has been trying to bring up as a policy. They do that by frustrating him (the vice president) and making sure that he doesn’t have his way.”
However, the elder statesman did not spare the vice president, whom he said was attracting self-inflicted problems to himself.
“Osinbajo is a victim of his blunders because his advisers are tribal. It is a church cabal. He doesn’t have balanced opinions coming from all parts of the country. So, he ends up making some terrible blunders and they (Buhari’s cabal) find it easy to checkmate him.”
Expressing his fears for Buhari’s administration’s capacity to succeed, the ACF chieftain said.
“With the cabal still in the Villa, there is no way Buhari will succeed as a president. It is not for nothing that Aisha (the First Lady) cried out. Do you remember when she spoke about the hyenas and the jackals? They are the ones controlling Buhari now. The President must muster courage and drive away the cabal he has surrounded himself with. The cabal is a bunch of hustlers, fleecing the president and his family. They are not human beings. They are not interested in Buhari’s success.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, told SUNDAY PUNCH that he would not react to the claim, while the Senior Special Assistant to the Acting President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, could not be reached as he did not respond to phone calls and messages.
Viral Video: Detractors want to damage the exercise, I was not injured – Akeredolu’s wife
Wife of the Ondo state governor, Mrs. Betty Akeredolu, on Saturday dismissed a viral video stating she was injured at the polling centre after thugs invaded the place. She said the video was meant to damage the voting exercise, distort information and put it in a bad light.
Mrs Akeredolu stressed that the sponsors of the video were insane.
“That is insane, that is absurd. That tells you how desperate people can be in politics or our political landscape.
“I am here in the ambience of my country home and somebody is there doctoring video that I was injured.
“Were you the one that injured me? Such desperation will not do any good to them.
The governor’s wife who spoke at their Owo residence expressed optimism that her husband would emerge victorious.
According to her, “People are exercising their franchise. The good thing is that people are voting in a peaceful manner. If we continue like that in all other polling unit we dont have anything to fear about violence
“We encourage people to vote and not fight. I urged people to vote in a peaceful manner so that our voices will be held.
“The detractors want to damage the exercise, to distort information and put one on a bad light. It is all false. We will emerge victorious”, she submitted
Ondo Guber Race: PDP rejects OAU VC as Chief Returning Officer, says don is Akeredolu’s crony
The National Campaign Council of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), for the October 10, 2020, governorship election in Ondo State, on Thursday rejected the appointment of Professor Eyitope Ogungbenro Ogunbodede, the Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, as the Chief Returning Officer for the election.
Chairman of the Campaign Council, who is also the Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde, who addressed newsmen in Akure raised the alarm, declaring that the people of Ondo State could be shortchanged if Ogunbodede is allowed to serve as the Returning Officer.
He said that the VC is a crony of the Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Rotimi Areredolu (SAN), adding that such a situation cannot guarantee a free and fair election.
According to him, there appears a high plot to sabotage the will of the voters in the state by ensuring that they do not get a free and fair election.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted the governor as saying that the appointment of Ogunbodede, a crony of the incumbent Ondo State Governor, who is also the standard-bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), will compromise the election.
Besides being a crony of the Ondo State governor, Ogunbodede equally hails from Owo town, the governor added.
Makinde called on INEC to replace Prof. Ogunbodede as Chief Returning Officer with a neutral individual, adding that such a sensitive position must be held by someone who has no affiliation with any of the parties in the election.
The PDP National Campaign Council also declared that Professor A.S. Bamire, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, who conducted the training for returning officers, is not a neutral party for the purpose of the election.
The statement also indicated that the governor called on all lovers of democracy around the world to be alert to the machinations of the APC-led Federal Government to rig the Ondo State governorship election.
The campaign council urged the United Nations, the European Union, the United States of America and the United Kingdom and all lovers of democracy to call INEC to order, stating that it is already compiling names of all actors and would not hesitate to recommend the same for visa ban based on their actions and inactions in Saturday’s election.
Makinde said: “All the hard work and support that we have provided for our candidate, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), who will help us reclaim Ondo, comes down to one date, the 10th of October, 2020.
“However, it has come to our notice that the people of Ondo State will not be getting a free and fair election if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as presently composed, will be overseeing the election in Ondo State.
“We are speaking in particular about the appointment of Professor Eyitope Ogungbenro Ogunbodede, the Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife as the Chief Returning Officer of the Ondo State governorship election.
“The PDP totally rejects Prof. Ogunbodede, who is acting as the Chief Returning Officer. The reasons are very clear. He is a known crony of the current governor of Ondo State, who is also the candidate of APC, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN). He hails from Owo, the same hometown as the candidate of the APC. He cannot be a fair party in the proceeding by the virtue of their association.
“We also want to state that Professor A.S Bamire, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, who conducted the training of returning officers, is not a neutral party for the purpose of this election.
“We, therefore, call on INEC to stay true to their names and replace Professor Eyitope Ogungbenro Ogunbodede with a disinterested party. The Chief Returning Officer should have no affiliations with any of the participating parties in the election.”
Governor Makinde, who called on the international community to be alert to what the APC-led administration in the centre is trying to do in Ondo, said: “We also take this opportunity to call on all lovers of democracy around the world to pay attention to what the APC-led administration in the centre is trying to do in Ondo State.
“We call on the United Nations, European Union, United State, and the United Kingdom and, indeed, and indeed, all allies of democracy, to call INEC to order.
“We are compiling the names of the people involved in there and I believe those people will be good candidates for the visa ban, because if they try to rig this election and they stay here with us, then we will reach out to them after the election to either say thank you or show them what it is if they allow themselves to be used to deny the people of Ondo State the free will to choose their leader.”
The governor commended security agencies in Ondo State for doing well so far, warning, however, that they should not allow themselves to be used as tools to subvert the will of the people.
He further said: “We call on all security agencies in Ondo State not to allow themselves to be used as a tool against the will of the people.
“So far, they have done very well. So, we take this opportunity to commend them for what they have done so far. But we still have a long way to go. Until we see to the end of this process and a governor-elect is declared, it is going to be eternal vigilance for us. So, we urge the security agencies to still do more.
“Please, don’t forget that history and posterity have never been kind to people who allow themselves to be used as a tool for injustice. We urge our security agencies to read the mood of the people and act accordingly.
“Well, politicians, I am one, will come and go, but the people will always remain; and our state and our country will remain. And everyone should remember the world is watching us.”
Ondo Guber Race: Hold Makinde responsible if poll is marred – Oyo APC group says
As electorate in Ondo state prepare to cast their ballots this Saturday in the scheduled gubernatorial poll in the state, a media group within the All Progressives Congress in Oyo state,Communication and Strategy Frontier (CSF), on Tuesday alerted the public that Governor Seyi Makinde should be held responsible for any development which might mar the smooth conduct of the exercise stating that he (Makinde) appeared too desperate to emerge a regional champion of his party.
The Peoples Democratic Party at the national level had appointed Gov. Makinde as the Chairman, Campaign Committee for its candidate in the said election, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, and this, according to Oyo APC, was to enable the PDP prosecute its Ondo project with the financial resources of the Pacesetter state.
In a statement issued in Ibadan and made available to the press by its Director-General, Mr. Wale Olanrewaju, and Director of Organization, Alhaji Olawale Sadare, Oyo APC-CSF faulted the PDP and Gov. Makinde over their alleged desperate moves to truncate the desire of the people of Ondo state to have a peaceful and hitch-free election this Saturday stating that he (Makinde) lacked all it takes to lead the PDP to any electoral victory.
“Both as the controversial gubernatorial candidate of the Oyo PDP in 2019 and the governor of Oyo state since May 29, 2019, Engr. Seyi Makinde has never convinced political pundits and critical stakeholders that he has any outstanding credentials to win elections for himself or any other person as he is lacking in capacity to either sell party manifesto or convince voters to his side. Also, Gov. Makinde lacks evidence of good governance with which he could tell Ondo people that his party candidate would replicate if elected.
“In the Sunshine state today, all the PDP governor in Oyo state does is to finance dirty deals with some mushroom parties and their clownish candidates who are being bought over to support the same Mr. Jegede who was roundly defeated by Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) in 2016. We also have it on good authority that Gov. Makinde is spearheading the plot to flood polling booths across Ondo state with heavy sums of money on Saturday as it was done in Edo last month.
“Now that the Agodi Government House has literally moved to Ondo state for the Saturday poll, one may want to ask why the Oyo state governor deems it necessary to abandon governance in his own state for an electoral contest in another state but the simple answer to this is obtainable from the fallout of the ongoing altercation between Gov. Makinde and some powerful PDP south west leaders who he seeks to dislodge with a view to positioning himself as the new leaders ahead of the 2023 general elections.
“Only yesterday, a close aide of Gov. Makinde fired another salvo to the former Governor of Ekiti state, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, in apparent continuation of the supremacy battle over who leads the PDP in the South West. Most Nigerians who were fooled by the pretentious mien of Makinde in the build-up to the election that produced him as governor and those who could not have the detailed account of his inglorious role in the last gubernatorial election in Kogi state could now see him in his true colour while he engages more gladiators in needless battle of attrition.
“We are now using this opportunity to appeal to Gov. Makinde to have a rethink on his clandestine plan to use the Ondo election to win a perceived test of confidence by trying to sponsor various activities capable of compromising INEC’s quest to deliver a free, fair and acceptable election this Saturday. We know how the same PDP candidate (Jegede) prosecuted his campaign in 2016 with minimum patronage of political thugs and we are now seeing the turn of event when Gov. Makinde is being made to influence things within the PDP and it is on this note that we are putting the whole world on notice that the governor of Oyo state should be held responsible for any security breach in Ondo before, during and after the Saturday election.” The Group submitted.
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