Muhammadu Buhari’s relatives are the ones dictating policy in Aso Rock for 170 million Nigerians, adding nepotism to the festering allegation of narrow mindedness levelled against the president, who critics say surrounds himself with Northerners in running national affairs.
Junaid Mohammed, radical politician and Second Republic lawmaker, named at least seven relatives of the president who are the power behind the throne in the Villa – apart from the heads of all vital security agencies who are from the North.
In a telephone interview with TheNiche from his base in Kano, Mohammed accused Buhari of giving key positions to his cousins, nephews, and in-laws, and is therefore guilty of the corruption he is trying to fight.
Mohammed, a virulent critic of former President Goodluck Jonathan, and originally a supporter of Buhari, said nepotism compromises Buhari’s ability to rule the country well, fight corruption, and deal with rogue lawmakers who pose a threat to his administration.
His words: “As far as I am concerned, nothing will come by way of contention with the National Assembly (NASS) and the executive branch, because both of them have a mindset which is completely antithetical to democracy.
“Both the president, particularly his principal adviser, his nephew, one nonentity called Mamman Daura; then the Chief of Staff [Abba Kyari], who in fact was brought up by Mamman Daura; and the scoundrel who is the Secretary to the Government of Federation [Babachir David], including most of the incompetent ministers, are not cut out to work harmoniously in a political environment with the legislature.
“On the legislative side, they want to continue business as usual; that will mean impunity, blackmail, open corruption to extort money from ministries, departments and agencies of federal and state governments, because they did not come into politics to serve.
“They came to make money. That is the basic fact.
“You can see why it is impossible for anybody, no matter how reasonable, to work with the National Assembly, especially the Senate, because unless you are prepared to open up the national treasury and offer it to them, there is going to be no peace between the executive branch and them.
“And of course, there is the unfortunate, additional bad luck of Buhari being surrounded by his own relations who are not politicians. They are not even members of the APC (All Progressives Congress) but dictate policy, especially Mamman Daura. So I can see no peace, I can see no cooperation, and God save Nigeria.”
Buhari’s relatives calling shots in Aso Rock
Mohammed said Buhari must apply the law equitably and justly in his fight against corruption and insurgents such as Boko Haram and Niger Delta Avengers (NDA).
“He has to do that, and listen more to Nigerians, and not this arrogant posture, and the crooks he appointed into cabinet.
“But unfortunately, for the country and for Buhari’s legacy himself, he has packed the government, and especially the Presidency, which is really the centre of power, and made it top heavy with his own relations.
“There are many people who are his own cousins in the Presidency. In my own understanding of history and politics, this is what you call nepotism. And if you are against corruption, you cannot be nepotistic.
“So it is really a contradiction for Buhari to have, for example a nephew of his, the son of his elder sister as the Minister of Water Resources [Hadi Sirika].
“He has another niece of his, the elder sister of [Sirika], who is now a national commissioner in the INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission), Amina Zakari.
“They are trying to bury their tracks. But Buhari nominated her even before he became president when Jonathan asked him to nominate somebody to represent the North West (in INEC) and he chose that woman.
“And then this nonentity, Mamman Daura, virtually runs the government. He has a veto power. There have been instances when Buhari gave written approval for things to be done, and that man went and stymied, threw the paper away.
“He has become such a tyrant in the Presidency. He is a nephew to Buhari. His father is the elder brother of Buhari, even though the (age) difference between them is about three years, his father is an elder brother to Buhari and they grew up together.
“[Abba Kyari] was brought up by Mamman Daura. His father left him with Mamman Daura to go to Borno, his original state where he was a village head.
“And for all intents and purposes, he is a son of Mamman Daura. He is now the chief of staff to Buhari. His name is Abba Kyari.
“Then [Kabir Daura] the personal assistant to Buhari himself, is the son of Mamman Daura.
“And the girl [Aisha Abubakar] who was picked out of nowhere from Sokoto. She is not a
member of the APC. She has nothing to do with anybody.
“She was picked and made a minister by Mamman Daura and Buhari because her mother is the younger sister of Mamman Daura’s wife.
“And then the ADC (Aide de Camp) to Buhari is married to the granddaughter of Buhari’s elder sister. His name is Colonel Lawan Abubakar.
“Now with this bloody mess and this disarray and terrible scandal, how can Buhari hope to keep the country in check, and fight corruption and the terrorists?
“It can’t be done; because to fight corruption, you must be above board. You must be absolutely in the clear. You don’t go underground to appoint your nephews and say you are being smart. He is just being smart by half.
“These are the core problems of Buhari and not the National Assembly. The National Assembly can be dealt with if he is absolutely above board, and if they know they have nothing on him or his nephews, cousins, and many of his relations who are now institutionalised in the government and in the most important part of government, the Presidency.
“And that explains some of the statements [former President Olusegun] Obasanjo has been making, metaphorical statements.
“He said corruption always begins in the Presidency. He was referring to Buhari’s presidency.
“Because when Obasanjo was in power himself and Atiku (Abubakar), they were accused of being corrupt and the world media said corruption always began in the presidency. So nobody should fool us.
Alleged sleaze in Buhari’s kitchen cabinet
Mohammed stressed that Buhari is not corrupt but many of his relations are suspects in corruption scandals.
“Only four days ago (June 20), Sahara Reporters – and it has not been denied – said a company called Sahara Energy is lifting crude oil in the name of both Mamman Daura and Abba Kyari.
“What is interesting about the company is that it used to be owned by the boyfriends of Diezani [Alison-Maduekwe, former petroleum minister] and she used to give them very generous crude oil lifting contracts.
“Sadly, in this government, which is supposed to be anti anything that Diezani stands for, we have Mamman Daura and Abba Kyari being mentioned by an internet newspaper as using the same company in lifting crude oil.
“Now the question is who is fooling who? Are we being told that Diezani’s former boyfriends, Omokore and Aluko, have moved on, and in their place is Mamman Daura and Abba Kyari? What is happening?
Mohammed also wondered why Buhari despite the corruption scandal of the last administration, allowed Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefile, who was a member of the last administration, to remain in office.
“And throughout this serious scandals of corruption, the source of the monetary scandal has been only two places.
“One is the Central Bank because it was from the Central Bank the money was being taken either to the office of the National Security Adviser [Sambo Dasuki] or to PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) headquarters or to certain individuals.
“But it was always from the Central Bank.
“Buhari himself said at the beginning of his term that he had evidence and knows there was a time when [Emefiele] picked a piece of paper and wrote and instructed that N14 billion should be withdrawn from the Central Bank, and the N14 billion was withdrawn.
“Yet that man, under Buhari is still the governor of the Central Bank. Buhari has not sacked him, and Buhari is now more than one year in office. The question is that who is the power behind the governor of the Central Bank?
“The other source of money is the money from the NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation) because the NNPC has several accounts, most of them in foreign currencies: dollars, euros, yuan, pounds sterling.
“After Diezani left, I don’t know on whose advice Buhari picked some innocuous, incompetent, irresponsible Igbo man from Delta State [Ibe Kachikwu] and appointed him minister of state for petroleum. But in actual fact, he runs the ministry on day-to-day basis.
“In addition, this man was also appointed by the same Buhari, who is supposed to know the industry well, as the managing director of the NNPC. “And because Nigerians don’t know or don’t care to know or maybe they are not interested, the position of the MD of the NNPC is a civil service appointment for technocrats and what have you.
“But a ministerial appointment, whether a senior or junior minister, is a political appointment.
“How Buhari decided in his arrogance to combine the job of the MD and the minister in one man whom nobody has ever heard of and gave him those positions, is a mystery to us. Who again is the power behind this man?
“To add insult to injury, the Igbo now started shouting that they have not been given what they call lucrative appointments.
“They have the Central Bank, where most of the money come from, they have the minister of petroleum, and then the MD of the NNPC.
“They have their normal slots of ministerial appointments. And they are still shouting that they have not been given lucrative appointments.
“And Buhari is quiet, apparently he is under pressure from some people, particularly the Mamman Dauras and some of the rogues and scoundrels who are always around whenever somebody is in government. Now this is the tragedy of Nigeria today.
“Buhari is performing marginally in the fight against terrorism, particularly Boko Haram terrorism. He is doing nothing, in fact what he is doing in the South South is appeasement, open and shameful appeasement in the Niger Delta.
“It shows that even among Nigerians, some are more equal than others, according to Buhari’s government.
Abba Kyari sits on Magu’s confirmation letter
Mohammed said although Buhari has been making progress in the fight against corruption, the credit for that effort goes to acting EFCC Chairman, Mustapha Magu, and not really the presidency.
He was appointed on November 9, 2015 and has still not been confirmed.
“These are the boys [EFCC personnel] who are doing the job and they are doing it very well.
“In fact they are doing it so well that Mamman Daura, Abba Kyari and Babachir David and some other people around Buhari are determined to get rid of Mustapha Magu because he took on this mysterious Sahara Energy Oil Company and froze the account.
“The directors of the company include Mamman Daura and Abba Kyari. That is why they are now after the EFCC, particularly the chairman.
“Magu has been on acting appointment since Buhari came. Buhari has for months given approval for his situation to be regularised to be made permanent chairman. Abba Kyari has been sitting on the paper for over three months.
“Buhari cannot tell him to submit the paper. So who is ruling us?
Mohammed argued that in a democracy, the likes of Mamman Daura and Abba Kyari should not be given the right to take decision.
“They have no mandate. None of them has ever won an election in his life. I knew in 1979 when we were going to the National Assembly, Mamman Daura wanted to be a senator for the area east of Katsina which include Daura.
“Because Daura itself is too small a village and too small a district to provide a senator, they had to cut a portion of eastern Katsina to merge with it.
“The people of Katsina said ‘we understand your situation. You are minority in Katsina and the old Kaduna State. We would vote for you en masse, but don’t bring Mamman Daura.
‘“Anybody in the whole of the area, yes, but not Mamman Daura. We don’t want any member of the Kaduna Mafia in the National Assembly or in any forum in Nigeria to represent us.’
“And that was how Mamman Daura was thrown out and a friend of mine called Abba Ali became the senator from that area.
“Now this is the same Mamman Daura who is exercising so much power simply because his uncle Buhari is the president.
“Nigerians should start asking the correct questions instead of messing themselves up using tribalism and religion and other nonsense.”