With 2019 election just months away, President Muhammadu Buhari is positioning himself to win by any means possible, against the groundswell opposition unprecedented since the 2015 presidential elections. Several things happened within the week that belies his insistence-or desperation-on being returned as the president come February 2019.Already, he is being forced to take decisions that ordinarily he is not expected to take.
The sacking of the Department of State services, DSS boss, Lawan Daura, has been a single major blow to that ambition, according to general opinion. He was allegedly meant to be the arrowhead for returning the president come 2019, but he was sacked in circumstances he could not have helped. There were indications that he had expected suspension of the chief spy by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo till he returned from his “consultative” trip to London.By the time he came back, the acting Director, Mathew Seiyefa, had settled in and had instituted a wide range of reforms. This magazine reported that Seiyefa, being due for retirement before the end of the year, will not be confirmed. Initially, the Minister for interior, General Rahman Dambazau, was allegedly tipped for the position but there was said to be a groundswell of opposition from the Agency, due mainly to inter agency rivalry. As usual, the presidency deferred to the sacked DG to appoint his replacement, even though his personal preference4 was said to have been Dambazau.
This is not the first time this is happening in the presidency. When Babachir Lawal was removed due to international pressures, he was said to have been allowed to nominate his own replacement, and he was said to have nominated his own cousin, Boss Mustapha. So Daura, according to sources, nominated Yusuf Bichi as replacement. This places the agency right back into the hands of Lawan Daura.
Prior to the appointments, pressures continued to mount on the president from the international community for Buhari to either throw in the towel or , at least, ensure a free and fair election. And the big four, of which Former president Olusegun Obasanjo happens to be the most senior in Military hierarchy, continue to push on the international front. Sources indicate that pressures from Britain may have asked for the sack of Kemi Adeosun, who is a British citizen. It was said that British Prime Minister Theresa May was not impressed by the fact that the Presidency was shielding her. The issue was complicated by the fact that Asiwaju Tinubu, who was sidetracked in her appointment, also wassaid to be putting on pressures for her sack. And it was said the Obasanjo, on whose recommendation she was allegedly employed when things were still smooth between Buhari and himself, does not have any reason to ask for any favour from Buhari at this time.In fact, this magazine gathered that a delegation led by a retired General was sent to Abeokuta to see Obasanjo. Top on the Agenda was to prevail on Obasanjo to soft-pedal in his international campaign against the APC government. Secondly, they were said to be there to seek his opinion on the Adeosun issue. But it was gathered that Obasanjo, who was in audience with some people said he will not accept any private discussion with the emissaries, insisting that the issue must be discussed in the presence of his visitors. After some time, they were said to have left without achieving their goal. A visibly angry Buhari was said to have decided on the sack of Adeosun. He also decided that he must wade through the elections even if to prove a point. First, absolutely loyal people must be put in strategic positions. His niece, Amina Zachary, already occupies the position of Director of Operations in INEC. All security chiefs are all his loyalists, except DSS. He needed to also change the Security Printing and Minting boss, since he is also meant to print the ballot papers. For this, he approved the appointment of Abbas Umar Massaanawa as their new boss. He also approved the appointments of Abubakar Sule Minjibir, Tunji Kazeem and Chris Orewa as Executives Directors of the company.
Having sorted things out, he then gave instructions that Kemi Adeosun, the Minister of Finance should resign her position with immediate effect. This was conveyed to Adeosun by the Chief of staff, Abba Kyari, who denied her entrance to last Wednesday Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting. She was very rattled. She tried to use all her contacts with the president to plead on her behalf. When that failed, she was said to have reluctantly written her resignation letter. But she did not submit it immediately. However, her resignation was leaked to the social media when she came to the office and directed all agencies to prepare their hand over notes that she is resigning. Hence she was busy on Thursday with preparation for her hand over.
Immediately he resignation story hit the media, many journalists who tried to confirm the story were told that she has not resigned, which was technically true. Hence the confusion in the media. It was when she had tidied up her desk that she officially submitted her letter.
Meanwhile, the presidency, quite unusually, was ready with her replacement even before she submitted her letter. The Minister of state Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, will oversee the Ministry of Finance, henceforth. This is unprecedented, where Finance is subsumed under Budget and Planning.
With the appointment of the new DSS boss, Southern and Middle belt groups have been up in arms. In a statement signed by Chief E.K. Clark (South-South), Chief Ayo Adebanjo (South-West), Chief John Nwodo (South-East) and Dr Bitrus Pogu (Middle Belt), the leaders noted that the President had gone ahead to deep himself further into the cocoon of ethnic irredentism in making this insensitive appointment.
“We reject this appointment and we do not shy in telling Mr President that he no longer pretends that the country is one under him. In the last few days, there have been fears coming from the international community about the dangers that would come the way of Nigeria if Mr President returns for another term. With his latest action, we add that the country is not safe in the remainder of his first term”, they said.
If the feelers from the developments, pundits insist that the elections have already been won in the preparations. They cite the Ekiti elections which has put the electoral umpire in a difficult situation. Even with the Osun elections, there are rumors of the freezing of accounts of the PDP candidate, including that of his nephew, a popular trending musician. Two court cases are threatening to mare the handover of John Fayemi of Ekiti government house, one from the PDP and one challenging his nomination. Even Atiku Abubakar, a frontline PDP presidential candidate, has petitioned the presidency alleging threat to life because he is contesting for the presidency. According to him, he needed extra security as some people are threatening to kill him and rape his wives if he does not drop his presidential ambition.
The 2019 election appears to be pregnant and nursing a baby at the same time.