Much like the British Colonialists maintained the Nigerian territory under their stronghold through indirect rule, Nigeria has again become captive by an unelected cabal who indirectly want total dominance over governance of Nigeria and her resources. This cabal is represented by the man known as the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.
As a colonial governance strategy, indirect rule was designed to use existing tribal structures and traditions as conduits for establishing rules and regulations while English officials worked behind the scenes and could exercise a veto power over decisions. In some cases the British designated a person to act as “chief” in settings where there was no clearly hierarchical structure in place. The ‘chief’ was essentially a puppet, while the British overlords held sway behind the scenes.
All these changed, or so we naively assumed, upon Independence when elected Nigerian officials functioned not as puppets but as de facto leaders. At the dawn of the current democratic experiment in 1999, we all had high hopes that democratic governance would usher in prosperity and progress for a critical mass of Nigerians.
In terms of optics and structure, President Olusegun Obasanjo borrowed a leaf from the USA and created the office of the Chief of Staff (COS) who was meant to be the engine room of the President’s office at the Villa. His choice – who worked with him for 8 years – was a Distinguished Sandhurst educated Army General, Abdullahi Mohammed. General Mohammed was at various times, Director of Military Intelligence, Director General of the Nigerian Security Organization (precursor of the DSS, NIA & DIA) and was National Security adviser to General Obasanjo’s predecessor, General Abdulsalami Abubakar.
General Mohammed brought gravitas, panache and strategic policy direction to the Obasanjo Presidency and was respected by Cabinet Members and Heads of MDAs. He did not surreptitiously deceive his Principal, neither did he usurp his powers. He also had an excellent working relationship with Vice President Atiku Abubakar and SGF Ufot Ekaette. This harmonious state of affairs continued till 2015 as all occupants of the Office of COS made no attempt, covert or overt, to stage a palace coup.
But things changed drastically in 2015 with the appointment as COS of a Kanuri, Red Cap wearing Ex-Banker, who up until 2015 was a known critic of President Buhari – Abba Kyari.
With no known track record beyond his stint and eventual sack as CEO of the old UBA, Kyari’s appointment as COS was resoundingly rejected by numerous Nigerians as he was not a Buhari Supporter neither did he believe in the Change Agenda of the President. In the President’s first term, he was allegedly fingered in numerous scandals such as the MTN bribery scam. He’s believed to have used strong hand tactics to buy Etisalat, Keystone Bank, amongst others. The preponderance of opinion was that the President should sack him as he was adding absolutely no value to the Administration.
But building monstrous fiefdoms is not enough for this cabal but still lacks the presence of mind to be conscientious or decent. He is very vindictive and authoritarian and must have his way come what may. To the chargin of Nigerians, upon his re-appointment, he has swiftly upped his game to perpetuating indirect rule in Nigeria. His constant appearance in pictures with the President when he receives dignitaries is to send a message to the world that he is in charge. He ensured any Minister that appeared objective in the previous cabinet did not return. His grouse with Chief Audu Ogbeh was that he dared to question Kyari’s RUGA misadventure. Ask the current civil servants how they feel about Ogbeh’s replacement and you can see that competence was not the motivating factor in the replacement. He did not support RUGA and was booted out. Or, ask the former Head of Service whom he removed at a whim for daring to reveal the truth about reinstating Maina. The streets of Abuja are awash with stories of how many of the current ministers on the cabinet paid millions of dollars to secure their seats on the cabinet.
He fired a daring salvo by allegedly inserting a paragraph in President Buhari’s speech to Ministers at the end of the recent retreat to the effect that all issues and requests for appointments by Ministers should be passed through him. This function has traditionally been performed by the SGF.
Emboldened by that act, he moved to the office of the Vice President where the Economic Management Team was domiciled, got the Team dissolved and set up an Economic Advisory Team that, on paper, should report to Mr. President, but would in practice report to Abba Kyari.
Given that he has already cut off Ministers from the President, sidelined the SGF, shutting out the VP from the Economic Strategy of the Government was the main focus of his quest for indirect rule. As things stand today, the Economic Advisory Team, just like the Ministers, would have to pass their request to see the President through Abba Kyari and he decides what the President would do or not do. This is man that did not move a muscle during both the 2015 and 2019 presidential campaigns.
As things stands today, Abba Kyari has essentially enthroned himself as President of Nigeria and he is governing via indirect rule. He has made a caricature of the office of the President, and he is intent on destroying our patrimony.
Nigerians did not vote for Abba Kyari as President.
We MUST put an end to Indirect Rule NOW.
It’s either the President and Vice President resign to allow for fresh elections so that Abba Kyari can stand for election as President, or the President sacks Kyari NOW!
Mallam Ibrahim Umar-Bashir, (PhD Khartoum)
Thought Leadership Political Action Committee (TLPAC)