President Muhammadu Buhari has broken his silence on allegations by his critics, that his administration had been hijacked by a cabal.
Buhari said yesterday that what the critics were alleging was far from what was happening in his administration.
The president said that the there was no time the purported cabal had influenced his decision on any matter and charged those behind the claim to prove him wrong by producing evidence of such interferences.
He said that what was happening in his government was far from what the critics are alleging in the public domain.
Among those who believe on the existence of a cabal in the presidency are the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the Senate President Bukola Saraki, and wife of the president, Aisha.
In his first official comment since the allegations were first made by Aisha on October 14, 2016 and last June by Saraki, the president charged them to substantiate their claims.
Buhari specifically challanged those peddling information about alleged existance of a cabal to prove in any way or form that the said cabal had influenced his decision on governance.
On two occasions, Aisha had claimed that a cabal of two or three people in the presidency had taken over the Buhari administration thereby frustrating the president’s good intention at improving the wellbeing of Nigerians.
Mrs. Buhari first made the allegations in an interview aired by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in October 2016 and at a leadership summit in Abuja earlier this month.
But, in an interview with the Hausa Service of the Voice of America (VoA) yesterday, Buhari said the fact that some people are making such allegations shows there is democracy in practice.
The journalist had asked him: “Have you heard of the word cabal? People have been alleging that there are a few people in charge of this administration; that you are not the one in charge. Even your wife said something about this recently, what do you have to say about this?”
In his response, Buhari said: “That’s her business… This shows I am a real democrat… What they are saying is different from what is happening. They should come out and say those things they feel were staged-managed by the cabal. What the cabal forced to me to do. They should mention just one thing.”
On December 5, 2018, Mrs. Buhari had told the audience at a conference organised by Project 4+4 in Abuja, that two people were controlling her husband’s administration.
She had said: “Our votes were 15.4 million in the last elections and after that only for us to be dominated by two people… this is totally unacceptable.
“If 15.4 million people can bring in a government and only for the government to be dominated by two or three people, where are the men of Nigeria? Where are the Nigerian men? What are you doing? Instead of them to come together and fight them, they keep visiting them one after the other licking their shoes (I’m sorry to use those words).”
In the earlier interview aired on the BBC, Mrs. Buhari accused the cabal of creating a lot of problems for the president, to the extent of disconnecting him from the millions of Nigerians who voted for him in 2015.
She threatened not to campaign for him in 2019 if the president decided to run for a second term.
Aisha said: “My view is that, it is envisaged that we may not have a peaceful four-year term of governance. There would be worries here and there, even though I cannot lay claim that I brought about the government, it is the mass revolt of the people that insisted that enough was enough.
“Then some unknown people were brought in to lead the people. These people were not even around during our campaigns. What we promised and what we told the people as regards what we don’t want. But today, some of them are boasting that they are not politicians, even though they are occupying seats meant for politicians.
“I’m not happy with the manner with which things are going on, although it may seem that we have just begun, I know some appointments have been made here and there like those that actually worked for the party. But even those brought in to occupy some government agencies, you would discover are fighting with their state governors,” she said.
Pressed to name members of the cabal, she asserted Nigerians already knew them and pleaded with the cabal to leave her husband alone to face the business of governance.
Aisha continued: “Everybody knows them, and those doing such shouldn’t forget that this government came to being, by individual votes. Even Buhari voted with a single vote. No one voted with five fingers or 10, 15 million. These people I’m complaining about are not more than two or three. I’m pleading with them to have sympathy for the people, open their arms to embrace all for the smooth sail of governance not even for today’s sake but even against 2019.”
Asked if the president is aware of the stumbling blocks the cabal constituted within his government, she replied: “whether he knows or not, those that voted for him know.
“I don’t need to tell him anything, after all, he can see. Of all the people he appointed, assuming they are 50, if you ask him; he didn’t know 45 of them. Even me that had been with him for 27 years, I don’t know them,” she lamented.
On his part, Saraki had alleged that there was a government within Buhari’s administration using their executive powers to persecute the Senate leadership.
Saraki made the allegation in a statement he issued after the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and two others were arraigned for an alleged forgery.
He said: “What has become clear is that there is now a government within the government of President Buhari that has seized the apparatus of executive powers to pursue a nefarious agenda.”
In the statement posted on his official Facebook page, Saraki described the charges levelled against the Senate leadership as a violation of the principles of separation of power.
Anti-corruption War, Economy, Security Still Top Campaign Agenda
Meanwhile, President Buhari has said he would soon embark on aggressive campaign for the 2019 presidential election with focus still on the three areas he campaigned on in 2015 because “they are still very relevant.”
The president relisted them as the fight against corruption, tackling insecurity and improving the economy.
Buhari stated this yesterday when he received the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) community who paid him Christmas homage at his official residence in Abuja.
He said the campaign would start by visits to each of the six geo-political zones of the country.
The president will kick off his campaign in Akwa Ibom on Friday.
He said: “The party nominated me and I will contest. We are watching the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) very seriously and we are going out very soon; we will go from geo-political zone to geo-political zone, to remind the people of our promises in 2015.
“Three fundamental things, security is one, because you have to secure the country before you can govern it, and talking about what we have done regarding securing the country, the people of the Northeast know better. The three fundamental things we campaigned with are still very relevant.
“On improving the economy, which we are still going to explore, we have done well in agriculture, and those who embraced farming are not regretting it and we have also addressed unemployment and we are very lucky, through that, we are now attaining food security.
“The third thing with which we will campaign is the issue of corruption. I told you what I did when I was in uniform but now when I have to go by this system (democracy,) where people have to be arrested and then prosecuted, taken to court and then with evidence.
“We will collect back what they have taken illegally and for doing that, people are calling me ‘Baba go slow’. I am going slowly but whatever the case, I will not stop pointing fingers at those who have abused trust by taking the money that does not belong to them.
I will keep on trying to do my best for this country and get back what belongs to the country. We are doing the roads, reviving the railway and electricity with the little resources at our disposal. Fighting corruption, yes, we are slow because the system is slow. It’s not Baba that is slow but it is the system so I am going by this system and I hope we will make it,” he said.
The president thanked the FCT community for the visit and urged people in leadership positions to earn the confidence of the electorate.
Earlier, the minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, said the FCT community, was impressed with the performance of Buhari and pledged to support him for another term of office.
Bello said: “We pray that God Almighty continue to grant you good health, strength, capacity, ability and patience to continue to lead us to the Promised Land. On behalf of the FCT, we appreciate you for the good work you are doing for the territory. Just last week, you commissioned a new airport terminal and so many road projects are going on in Abuja and we feel highly delighted to be hosting you here and it’s my honour on behalf of the FCT community.”
In his own remarks, the primate of the Anglican Communion in Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh, congratulated the president for overcoming his health challenges and said that Nigerians are grateful to God for that.
The cleric noted that the spirit of unity among followers of different religions in the FCT is exemplary and should be replicated in all parts of the country.
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