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Aso Rock: Who Is In Charge? By Ozodinukwe Okenwa

June 10, 2020

When 2023 comes and Buharism relapses into historic oblivion we would remember how a nation was placed on 'auto-pilotship' for years.

Retired Colonel Abubakar Dangiwa Umar, the former military Administrator of old Kaduna State was lucid, diplomatic and patriotic in a recent memo, nay open letter, he sent across to President Muhammadu Buhari. But he was equally critical of Buharism as regards the retired General's nepotism and sectional lopsided appointments in his embattled administration. Col. Umar cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand as a political or military novice given his years of meritorious service to the nation.

Therefore, his considered opinion counts since, in our reckoning, it represents a voice of reason in a season of creeping tyranny. Col. Umar never hid his open support of Buhari as President, even before becoming one while labouring in the opposition. Indeed he celebrated his emergence as President in 2015 according to him. But now, like many of us, he is harbouring a certain reservations over the way and manner the Daura-born General-President is piloting the affair of the nation.

Many critics had posited that Buharism harbours a hidden agenda bordering on 'Fulanization' and 'Islamisation' of Nigeria. The President has demonstrated irresponsible insensitivity towards the federal character principle thereby putting national cohesion, concord and unity in serious jeopardy. Very unfair and partial in his hiring and firing policy Buhari has imperilled national development. 


He prefers his northern brothers and sisters and those worshipping Allah to the detriment of other regions, religions and tribes. To say that Buhari is a divisive figure in Nigeria is saying the obvious. Since his popular emergence five years down the line Nigeria has become more polarised and disunited than any other time in our national history.

In the strongly-worded missive addressed to the President Col. Umar went down memory lane by recalling his eventful years in the military when the Nigerian army high command was structured in a professional patriotic way that no room ever existed for parochial politics, tribalism, regionalism and religion. Merit was the order of the day!

Today like never before PMB and his 'democratic gang' have virtually destroyed the espirit -de-corp in the military. Without mincing words Buhari has done a lot of damage to the system -- be it military, judiciary, education or parliament. He has done very little since assuming office to improve the living conditions of Nigerians and the general condition of Nigeria herself! Insecurity is still there just like corruption and poverty!

Col. Umar apart from warning that Buhari's skewed appointments would bring ruin and destruction to Nigeria had raised the disturbing issue of the appointment of a substantive head of the Appeal Court. He alleged that another core northerner, the Judge that upheld the fraudulent presidential poll of last year won by Buhari, was being considered to replace Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa who had retired after attaining the compulsory age limit.

Perhaps his intervention and those of others could have led to the recent nomination of

Monica Dongban-Mensem as substantive President of the Appeal Court in Nigeria. That was what the President should have done since following the recommendation of the National Judicial Commission in line with the provisions of the constitution but he was reluctant to do so until now. It is now left for the Senate to confirm her firmly to the position.

Who knows, may be Madam Dongban-Mensem's gender or her Christian faith could have been blamed for the presidential reluctance or delay in her elevation. President Buhari remains an executive 'apostle' of chauvinism and religious bigotry! He manifests a certain distrust for members of other faith apart from Islam. His body language delivers a message of anti-feminism. He was once quoted to have said that the place of his wife, the First Lady, was in the kitchen and 'the other room'! Whatever that meant.

Following the Dangiwa bombshell Prof. Wole Soyinka had since weighed in. In a recent interview he granted Plus TV Africa he had indicated that he was at a loss to locate who was really in charge in Aso Rock. The Nobel Laureate castigated the President for his 'AWOL' tendencies questioning the hierarchy in the seat of power.

The famous old man of literature was not alone in interrogating the state of leadership in Nigeria. Theories had emerged championed by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) fugitive leader, Nnamdi Kanu. To Kanu and other IPOB elements the Buhari in Aso Rock was not the original Buhari Nigerians elected in 2015.

They argued without evidence that Buhari the original had 'died' some years ago and was secretly buried in Saudi Arabia! And that the cabal in power conspired to surgically produce another Buhari, 'Jubril from Sudan or Chad' who is now in 'charge' at the centre in Abuja.

Though we have never believed this obscure theory we however hold that there exists a presidential lacuna of power in Aso Villa. No one is sure who really holds the lever of power in the presidential palace. When the late CoS Kyari was there he was said to be the de-facto President but now that COVID-19 had taken him away Agboola Gambari cannot be entrusted with such degree of power for obvious reasons.

President Buhari is very good at ceding power to his subordinates. When he was a military dictator in the early 80s he had 'ceded' power to the late Gen. Tunde Idiagbon. As President he had done the same thing to his late Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari. When he was appointed the Chairman of the Petroleum Trust "Fraud" (PTF) by the late kleptocrat, Gen. Sani Abacha someone else was running the show on his behalf!

Who, really, is in charge in Aso Rock? Certainly we know not! But we can hazard a guess here. In the absence of President Buhari in full charge due to his insentience occasioned by old age or intellectual or medical incapacitation the cabal are in charge. We need not name them for they know themselves.

President Buhari, contrary to his claims, does not belong to all of us. He belongs to a certain part of the country. When a President openly remembers the regions that voted massively for him during elections and those that gave him '5 percent' then he cannot belong to everybody.

When 2023 comes and Buharism relapses into historic oblivion we would remember how a nation was placed on 'auto-pilotship' for years.

SOC Okenwa

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