As President Muhammadu Buhari headed out this morning to South Africa to attend an African Union Summit, several of his close aides and associates have attributed his slowness in producing a cabinet and special advisers to his deliberate bureaucratic style. Even so, some of the sources claimed that Mr. Buhari’s three previous predecessors did not select and announce their cabinet early in the life of their respective administrations.
One of the associates, a governor of a northern state, said, “President Buhari is a systems man who tolerates a degree of bureaucracy apparently because of his military training.” He claimed that Mr. Buhari “assumed office with a lot of urgent issues to be attended to, including how to resolve the fuel crisis that crippled Nigeria. He also made strategic trips within our sub-region and to the G-7 Summit in Germany to address issues of the security and other threats facing our country.”
Another aide cited the fact that former President Olusegun Obasanjo did not compose his cabinet until July 28, 1999. It took the late President Umaru Yar’Adua till July 20th, 2007 to unveil his cabinet. Immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan was the fastest of recent presidents, inaugurating his cabinet on June 23, 2011.
One of Mr. Buhari’s associates told SaharaReporters that one of the president’s weaknesses was his blunt style of rejecting ideas or proposals he considers improper. “He can be stubborn and direct when he says no to ideas he doesn’t like,” said the source. He added: “The attribute could hurt policy making and governance if he happens to be wrong, as he is very difficult to convince otherwise once he doesn’t like an idea.”
Aides said that Mr. Buhari, owing to his frugal nature, refused to take many people with him on his current trip to South Africa outside of governors Ogun state, Ibikunle Amosun , Benue state governor, Ortom, former Chief of Army staff, Lt. General Abdulrahman Dambazau, his aide de camp, cook, official photographer and a handful of officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs led by Nura Rimi .
Mr. Buhari left Abuja at 7:30 a.m. this morning and arrived in South Africa some 2 hours ago. He is scheduled to chair the Peace And Security Council of the African Union later tonight.
Mr. Buhari’s last trip to an AU Summit was in 1985 when the organization was known by its former name of Organization of African Unity (OAU).
The president returned last week from a meeting of the G7 in Germany. One aide said Mr. Buhari had received enormous goodwill from Western leaders. However, his gaffes since returning to Nigeria, including failing to arrive in time for a meeting he was to hold with National Assembly members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), have triggered rising criticism of his government on social media. Some critics questioned whether he knew how much the world had changed since his 1985 removal from power in a coup d’état led by General Ibrahim Babangida (ret.).