Last week, an unusual development came out from the Presidency. The National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), in a leaked memo, accused the Chief of Staff (COS) to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, of overstepping his line of duty. Monguno accused the CoS of usurping the NSA’s powers by summoning service chiefs, diplomats and other sensitive organs relevant to the security architecture of the country to meetings against normal protocol.
By the letter, Monguno directed all service chiefs to forthwith stop attending meetings summoned by Kyari. He stopped short of accusing the CoS of acting as the president of the country.
The memo, dated December 9, 2019, was entitled: “Disruption of National Framework by Unwarranted Meddlesomeness.”
Monguno also accused Kyari of hijacking the coordination of national security functions, a role, rightfully, belonging to the Office of the NSA.
The memo was copied to the president, all intelligence and security chiefs, including the ministers of defence, foreign affairs, interior and Police affairs.
He said Kyari wrote two circulars on September 13 and November 26, 2019, respectively, with contents and directives, which were at variance with Buhari’s orders.
He said: “…It should be noted that the Chief of Staff to the President does not direct the security apparatus of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. His job as it relates to security stops at conveying Mr. President’s written directives.”
The leaked memo, coming at a time the country is faced with a renewed phase of insurgency in the North-East, banditry in the North-West and other violent crimes in other parts of the country could, at best, be described as very unfortunate. There is no better way to describe the squabble than the idea of Emperor Nero fiddling with his violin while Rome burnt.
While we do not blame the NSA for his memo, we find it difficult to understand why the issue of control of the security forces would be an issue while thousands of innocent citizens and security agents are losing their lives daily in the face of violence.
We believe that the fact that such a high profile confidential memo was even leaked to the press speaks volumes of the internal rumblings within the Presidency. We consider such disharmony a disservice to the suffering masses of the country.
But again, it further accentuates what has been an open secret to Nigerians in the life of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Since 2015, there have been signs of massive discordance and disharmony within the administration. We cannot forget that a former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, had in 2016, stated that there is a government within the Buhari government.
Coming from a man who was put on trial by his then party – the All Progressives Congress (APC) – many Nigerians would have taken the statement with the proverbial pinch of salt.
Reacting to charges that he and his then deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, had forged the Senate Standing Rules to aid their emergence as Senate leaders, Saraki had stated: “… what has become clear is that there is now a government within the government of President Buhari who have seized the apparatus of executive powers to pursue their nefarious agenda.”
If Nigerians saw Saraki’s claim as self-serving, the voice of the wife of the president, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, a few months after, that a few persons have hijacked her husband’s administration, ruffled much feathers and struck a chord with Nigerians.
Speaking in a BBC interview, Aisha had called for a shake-up in government, which, to her, would lead the country in the right direction.
She said that the president did not know most of the top officials he has appointed, stating that “a few people” were behind presidential appointments. She has gone further since then to speak more on her dissatisfaction with the state of things.
We are worried by the seeming disharmony in the Presidency and the Buhari administration. We can’t forget that not long ago, the president’s wife had taken a presidential aide, Garba Shehu, to the cleaners. What of the war between the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the ‘report’ of the Department of State Services (DSS)? There was also the war between Kyari and a former Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita and numerous other ones, where people in the same government have disagreed publicly to the consternation of Nigerians.
We believe very strongly that governance thrives best in the theory of Collective Responsibility. But we are worried that in the Buhari administration, every official seems to be an administration on his own. The inability of the president himself to speak on such matters compounds the confusion of Nigerians.
We are more worried that at a time the country should pull together to wipe out the insecurity that is threatening its existence, the key players are struggling for control of the relevant organs, necessary for the war. Can we then be wrong to assert that such power plays might be responsible for the ground the country has lost recently in the war against insurgents and insecurity?
We implore the president to weld his cabinet together in the interest of the country. Else, the efforts of this government would be in vain.