Once touted as closely knit, Buhari’s kitchen cabinet appears to be crumbling in the face of growing ego conflicts, mutual suspicion as well as mounting allegations of corruption among its members, Ripples Nigeria investigations have shown.
Exactly a week ago, June 22 to be exact, the nation’s media space was awash with stories of President Buhari’s meeting with hundreds of State House staff. The gathering which appeared routine has since become subject of intense speculations.
An early pointer to unease within the system was the quiet grumblings that greeted Jalal Arbi, the State House Permanent Secretary, when he told the expectant crowd that they had been assembled to bid President Buhari a warm welcome from his medical trip abroad.
Arbi was quoted as having said to Buhari, “This is the congregation of your children privileged to work in the Villa. We have gathered to welcome you and reassure you of our commitment to integrity, accountability and most importantly fear of God. We pray God to continue to strengthen you and give you peace of mind and tranquility to govern.”
No questions were entertained from the motley crowd once Mr President was done with his speech.
The show of solidarity and support, inside sources confided in Ripples Nigeria, were meant to conceal growing disenchantment and portray cohesion within and among the fractured leadership of the President’s closest aides.
Coincidentally, on the same day, news broke of a major conflict involving, perhaps, three of the closest members of Buhari’s kitchen cabinet. An ego war was reported to have pitched Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, and Lawal Daura, DG, DSS against the Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.
The bone of contention, inside sources claim, was Magu’s “intransigence” over attempts by Abba Kyari and the DG DSS to pervert investigations and cover up corruption allegedly perpetrated by Jide Omokore of Sahara Energy, a known ally of Diezani Allison-Madueke, former Minister of Petroleum who is now embroiled in corruption scandal.
The in-fighting within the ranks is said to have been accentuated with the orchestrated arrest and detention of Air Commodore Umar Muhammed, a member of the presidential panel investigating arms procurement. The arrest was on the orders of the DSS boss, a co-member of the same panel.
Sources say the exercise was meant to nail Magu, the EFCC Chairman, as Commodore Umar is alleged to have acted as a front for him in the massive looting of state resources. Interestingly, Magu who is also a member of the same panel has washed his hands off the allegation, apparently to save his skin.
Sources tell Ripples Nigeria that the quiet rumblings within the kitchen cabinet have not gone un-noticed, and that President Buhari is said to be chewing softly on the matter because of its sensitive nature, and his well-known stance against corruption.
“He does not want to betray any emotions or trigger an alarm”, our source said.
Already, Buhari is said to be at a loss on how to deal with the rumoured move by his Chief of staff, Abba Kyari, to stall Magu’s confirmation which is still pending.
President Buhari’s headaches have not been made lighter as he figures what to also make of the allegations of corrupt enrichment hanging on the neck of his Chief of Army staff, Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, who is largely seen as a poster boy for the administration.