President Buhari, Please Breakup the Unholy Trinity, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú

The Unholy Trinity of Mamman Daura, Abba Kyari and Lawal Daura is not good for your administration. You can fire them today and nothing will happen. Same goes for the lesser evil – your attorney-general. He is a serpent!

Dear President Buhari, I am happy you came back to Nigeria alive. I am sure you have had some time to do a lot of introspection about life, power and privilege. While in London, fighting to stay alive, you must have had more than enough time to reckon with your mortality. On arrival, you saw how your convoy was blocked by adulating followers who have invested the hope of a better, brighter and greater Nigeria in you. The people love you because you are the first Nigerian president who declared a full scale war against corruption in the polity. Those ordinary Nigerians who welcomed you, believe in you as a man of character and integrity. They wish you well and want you to succeed. I write you this open letter because I am disturbed by what has happened in your administration in the last two years and how those you trusted, weaponised your illness. While you were away, your vice president was largely on a regimented maintenence programme; he was trying so hard not to ruffle political feathers as he navigated a political field full of booby traps and landmines.

Sir, we did not vote for all the people you have surrounded yourself with. We voted for you, and whatever becomes of your administration will be your legacy. It is you who will face the harsh evaluation of history, as everyone else will only get some mention as actors. The last two years since you became Nigeria’s president has been full of fits and starts. Yes! It is true you inherited a mess. But, you have made a lot of mistakes too. You sure know by now that integrity and good intentions are not enough to govern. The people you appointed to positions have been your biggest missteps so far. Competence matters in managing any enterprise and most importantly a nation. You cannot value loyalty over competence and expect good results. It is called cronyism. Now that you have been given another chance at living, and granted a new lease of life, you need to reevaluate and do things differently. Like you, Nigeria needs a new lease of life and I call on you to give it one. You have the mandate and the bona-fides to get it done. Your cabinet needs to be rejigged. For you to succeed, you need to send your nephew, Mallam Mamman Daura back home. You need a new chief of staff, a new director for Department of State Services (DSS) and a new attorney-general.

Abba Kyari is more interested in the “chief” part of his position than in the “staff”. He presides like a chief and acts like he owns the presidency. He has forgottten he is a staff. He is manipulating you for his own gain. He is a commentary of failure!

Mallam Abba Kyari has portrayed you as a president lacking in critical thinking skills, a man easily manipulated by his kith and kin for political mischief or for a set agenda. A chief of staff is supposed to be serious minded, with the skills to bring discipline and order to the presidency. The presidency as an institution is suceptible to an underlay of the chaos occasioned by events and competing personalities and interests. The position of chief of staff requires a person who can stand up to the president without getting in the way. Someone strong yet willing to take marching orders. Your chief of staff is none of these. Abba Kyari is more interested in the “chief” part of his position than in the “staff”. He presides like a chief and acts like he owns the presidency. He has forgottten he is a staff. He is manipulating you for his own gain. He is a commentary of failure!

Sir, Mamman Daura holds no official position in your government but he shows us everyday that he rules over you. His avuncular presence around you is suffocating. It is in your own interest to keep him away from Aso Rock, where he does a lot of harm. You will recall many of us objected to your pick to head the Department of State Services (DSS). The DSS has become Mamman’s DSS. How did that happen under your nose, sir? It happened because you have demonstrated, time and again, that you favour your kin even if their actions are detrimental to you. If I may ask, what has happened to Dasuki’s case? Air Commodore Mohammed Umar may have diverted money, but he it was who gave you all you needed to know about Dasuki and the arms money. Where is he now? Who framed him up? Is the fact that Daura’s sister, being Dasuki’s wife, not getting in the way of the investigations? Is Daura not protecting his in-law? Your nephew, Mamman, orchestrated the DSS report on Magu after trying unsuccessfully to get Magu under his control. How is it that you can’t draw boundaries that he must not cross? Did we elect Daura? Where was he when we were campaigning for you? These are people who felt your 2015 run was yet another fruitless run, until you won. Why are you indulging them?

Why did you refuse to reprimand Lawal Daura for his egregious overreach and abuse of office? You asked your attorney-general to investigate the case against Magu, after he was exonerated, the same report was brought up again by your appointee. What does that tell you sir?

It seemed to me that you want to be above the fray or be seen to be above the fray. Sorry sir, you must be in the fray. If you don’t, history will not be kind to you. Those with whom you are playing politics have no scrupples. Last year when you were on leave, the Senate used that opportunity to transmit a letter to your office requesting the confirmation of Magu. Why did they transmit the letter when they knew you were on leave and at a time when the Senate president was in legal jeopardy? With the help of Lawal Daura, a report from the DSS indicted Magu of living in a mansion paid for by Commondore Muhammed Umar. He was also said alleged to have flown First Class to London and Saudi Arabia in company of Umar. Magu was not confirmed on the basis of the DSS report. Sir, that DSS action dealt a near fatal blow to your anti-corruption drive. Functionally, the DSS is a unit under the Executive. How could you have sent Magu for confirmation if you were aware of that report? If you were not aware, what does that say about insubordination within the chain of command? Has he any right to send any report to the legislature without your approval? Was the report deviced to show the world that your anti-corruption czar is corrupt? Why did you refuse to reprimand Lawal Daura for his egregious overreach and abuse of office? You asked your attorney-general to investigate the case against Magu, after he was exonerated, the same report was brought up again by your appointee. What does that tell you sir? How can your appointee be colluding with the Senate to block your nominee on whose table their case files are?

Lawal Daura is not a powerful person. He is as powerful as you make him. Ita Ekpeyong dealt with him mercilessly before. Ekpeyong retired him as a director. Within the DSS, Daura was not a regarded as a particularly intelligent officer. He was known for being an abrasive, irreverent, vengeful, unforgiving and arrogant man. You gave him relevance with the aid of his mentor, Mamman. The impression we have is that they have our president caged! My dear president, I call on you to disavow cronyism, act decisively against the saboteurs within your government, get rid of those who do not share your vision, save your name and begin to cement your legacy. Nothing should scare you at this age. The Unholy Trinity of Mamman Daura, Abba Kyari and Lawal Daura is not good for your administration. You can fire them today and nothing will happen. Same goes for the lesser evil – your attorney-general. He is a serpent!

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo