President Muhammadu Buhari’s omnipotent nephew, Mamman Daura, reputed to be one of the most influential persons in the corridors of power, spoke recently to the Hausa service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Though Daura is not known to be garrulous his taciturnity could be as a result of heavy accusations from many quarters of his solicited or unsolicited meddling in the affairs of the nation.
Breaking his silence on his relationship with Buhari Daura said he did not impose his decision on the President. But that assertion convinced not many Nigerians who still think otherwise. So by saying he offered advice when solicited does it then mean the President is lacking quality advisers in his administration? Yet special and 'unspecial' advisers abound?
In the interview with the BBC Daura had these to say concerning his relationship with the President: "Yes, I do visit him to greet him; I do give him advice, but if he asked…I advise him. But I don’t go there on my own and insist I must do this or that. No. You don’t do that to the government".
Really? Visiting the President to greet him and see if he would ask you to offer an advice or two? In the daytime or at wee hours of the night? You do not go there on your own and insist you must do this or that? So who goes in there to insist that this or that must be done? The late Abba Kyari or Babagana Kingibe? Or 'Tunde' Sabiu Yusuf?
And sounding hypocritical and selfish he spoke on the vexed issue of zoning and rotation of the nation’s presidency arguing that competence not geography should determine the next President of Nigeria in 2023. Hear him: "This turn-by-turn, it was done once, it was done twice, and it was done thrice… It is better for this country to be one…it should be for the most competent and not for someone who comes from somewhere".
Mamman Daura was talking about competence and merit over the 2023 presidential slot now that power ought to shift to the south! He was not in any moral position to tell us about merit or competence. What merit or competence did Muhammadu Buhari possess before desperately seeking to electorally sack ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015? Was zoning and rotation not the basis for his emergence and victory?
Daura, an accomplished journalist and businessman, has always been in the news for his alleged leadership of the notorious Aso Rock cabal that is running the country on behalf of the insentient President. It is difficult for him or any other person to publicly admit that fact. With the late CoS Abba Kyari Buhari could not have found other folks more loyal and more trusted. With them by his side surrogate presidency could be effective!
In December 2019, the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, had accused Daura of issuing a presidential directive without the knowledge of her husband! And in October of the same year a viral video surfaced online where Aisha and Fatima, one of Daura’s daughters, were involved in a heated argument. While the First Lady claimed she was denied access to an apartment in the Villa Fatima claimed the former attacked her!
Since Mammam Daura has no official appointment in the Buhari presidency apart from being the secret cabal leader one would want to know why his family and himself elected residence in the presidential palace.
If his role was to give advice to the President upon being solicited then he could live in Daura town in Katsina state or elsewhere outside the Villa. When GEJ was there we never witnessed siblings or relations of his living inside the Aso Villa. Ditto when 'Baba' OBJ and the late Yar'Adua were there.
That is why when critics hammer about nepotism and cronyism of the Buhari presidency no defense or denial has ever wiped out the reality on the ground. It takes an ethnically-biased President to accommodate his relations in the seat of power and allow them unfettered access to resources of the state!
When Daura waxed sectional by advocating for merit rather than zoning of the presidency to the south come 2023 interesting political times are here with us indeed. What Shettima Yerima said a few weeks ago about the north's desperation to retain the presidency beyond 2023 comes to mind. He had said that the south had everything by controlling the economy, asking why dabbling into presidential politics which, to him, was their right should be considered.
The 2023 presidential election in Nigeria will be decisive indeed given the present dire condition of the nation. Restructuring, insecurity, unemployment, Coronavirus, banditry and terrorism Nigeria is presently at crossroads. No one in their right senses could advocate for another northern shot at the presidency in three years time.
Mamman Daura's feeble defense in the BBC Hausa service interview is yet another demonstration of the grand plan by the northern elite to confiscate power beyond 2023. But doing so might boomerang leading to nasty consequences for the continued unity of the country. Preaching unity yet doing things against the 'forced' unity constitutes a crime against the federating spirit.
While merit and competence are required for the emergence of the President in 2023 zoning and rotation must apply. The north is less qualified and less competent to lead the nation than the south! So while we agree on merit as the yardstick of producing the Buhari successor we must look southwards (especially south-east) and not northwards.
With frustration gaining ground in a supposedly rich nation blessed with petro-dollars we must, together going forward towards 2023, start to change the presidential narrative with a southern power shift. Anything less is tantamount to playing the grave-digger for a moribund nation in elusive search of a messiah.