Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has received knocks from different quarters following his order to ministers to report to Kyari.
President Muhammadu Buhari came under criticisms on Wednesday for directing his ministers to channel all their meeting requests to him through his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari.
The President had on Tuesday, at the close of the two-day retreat organised for the ministers, asked them to always go through Kyari for meeting requests and through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, for issues relating to the Federal Executive Council.
He reiterated the same thing on Wednesday while inaugurating the ministers.
He said, “As I said yesterday (Tuesday), in terms of coordinating communication, kindly ensure that all submissions for my attention or meeting requests be channelled through the Chief of Staff while all Federal Executive Council matters be coordinated through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in order to speed up the process of decision-making.”
The President advised them to work as a team and open lines of communication with one another in order to hasten the pace of work.
But this directive has attracted criticism from individuals and groups who felt that the President was giving too much power to his Chief of Staff who was neither elected nor recognised by the nation’s constitution.
For instance, the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, said Buhari had with that directive abdicated his responsibility.
Speaking with one of our correspondents, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said it was an indication that Nigerians would not enjoy good governance during Buhari’s second term.
Ologbondiyan added that by the directive, Buhari had reduced the ministers to Kyari’s clerical aides.
He said, “By that directive, he has reduced the ministers to the clerical aides to the Chief of Staff and because of that even him, Mr President, has abdicated his responsibilities and assigned it to his Chief of Staff. That cannot lead to good governance in the next four years.
“The directive also suggests that Mr President as the Minister of Petroleum Resources will also go through the Chief of Staff on policy matters.
“He has abdicated his responsibility and ceded it to his Chief of Staff.”
Ologbondiyan had in a statement said such demotion of ministers was unacceptable, counter-productive, adding that it only reduced governance to a domestic affair.
In faulting Buhari’s directive, the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, said the President had elevated Kyari to the position of de facto prime minister.
The group’s spokesman, Mr Yinka Odumakin, said this in an interview with one of our correspondents.
Odumakin, who is also the spokesman for the Southern and Middle Belt Leadership Forum, said Buhari made the open declaration to the ministers in order to prevent pressure from them.
He said, “That statement shows clearly that the President wants to reign as President. As a man that is reigning, he cannot be disturbed by matters of state, like ministers coming to disturb him and bringing files to him.
“So, he has delegated that responsibility to the de facto prime minister, the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari.
“In the midst of what we are going through, should ministers be going through Abba Kyari to see the President?”
Odumakin argued that any President interested in moving Nigeria forward should be seen having daily meetings with ministers.
He added, “We have seen the sterling performance he has shown in the last four years; of being the coordinator of the ministers. That is a joke; Abba Kyari has not shown any sterling quality.
“But our case is that in the midst of what we are, anybody that wants to govern Nigeria; that wants to achieve results and move the country out of these crises, that person should be holding almost a daily dialogue with the ministers.
“For Buhari to sit down in the Presidential Villa like a monarch and appoint a principal chief who other chiefs report to, I don’t think we understand where we are.”
Also, the apex socio-political body of the Igbo, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has confirmed insinuations that Buhari is not in charge of his government.
The group’s National Publicity Secretary, Uche Achi-Okpaga, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said Buhari’s attitude towards governance was the reason things were going wrong in the country.
He said, “It has been said in the open and in secret that President Muhammadu Buhari is not in charge of the government – even his wife, Aisha, has also said that a cabal is running the government.
“Nobody can know the President better than his wife and if she has come out to say that, there should not be any doubt about it.
“This directive that ministers should reach him through his Chief of Staff has more or less confirmed this insinuation that he (Buhari) is indeed not in charge.”
The Ohanaeze spokesman condemned the development, noting that it was not proper for ministers to report to a “mere” presidential aide.
He added, “This directive is highly condemnable. There are other ranking officials of the Federal Government, such as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, so why the Chief of Staff?
“The appointment of ministers is confirmed by the National Assembly and you are now telling them to report to your aide?
“It only shows that Buhari is not in charge and that is why things have been going wrong in the country.”
Don’t expect any miracle with that arrangement, says Yakasai
Speaking in the same vein, a founding member of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, said he did not expect any miracle to happen under the arrangement put in place by the President.
He regretted that ministers would remain in the queue to see the Chief of Staff, let alone see the President.
Yakasai said, “It all depends on the latitude. If you are not given the latitude, you cannot do anything until you clear with the President.
“Our experience is that ministers line up in the office of the Chief of Staff (Abba Kyari) even to see him, let alone to see the President.
“If we continue with this, I don’t expect any miracle to happen.”
In his submission, a Second Republic lawmaker and the Convener of the Coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, Dr Junaid Mohammed, stated that while running a government was about trust, Nigerians should focus more on the achievements of an administration to determine whether to keep or change it.
Mohammmed said, “I spoke about this sometime in 2015 when the administration was newly inaugurated.
“What I understand about government is that it is an issue of trust; a kind of understanding between the governed and who is governing.
“Government is not an issue of personal terms or personal relationships, it is an issue of ‘what were you elected to do and what have you been able to deliver within a prescribed period?’
“If the outcome is good, then, fine; you can go ahead, if it does not work, we should be humble enough to look for another alternative.”
However, a former Secretary-General of Afenifere, Senator Femi Okurounmu, said it was left for all Nigerians to decide if the directive was normal or not.
He said, “Well, that (the directive) is the age in which we are in Nigeria. I don’t have anything to say other than that.
“It is the present age in which we are in Nigeria. It is for all of us to decide for ourselves, whether that is normal or not.”