Nigeria: Buhari Challenges Wife, Others Over Cabal Claims

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari and First Lady Aisha Buhari
26 December 2018

President Muhammadu Buhari has challenged his wife, Aisha and others to prove their allegation that his administration has been hijacked by a cabal.

Buhari threw the challenge in a yet-to-be aired interview with the Hausa Service of the Voice of America.

In a short teaser of the interview released on social media yesterday, Buhari was asked to clear the several allegations by his wife and others that he was not in control of the government.

"That's her business," the president retorted.

"I am a true democrat by allowing everybody to have an opinion," he said.

Apparently saying he is in charge, Buhari said, "I challenge those alleging to show single evidence. What they are saying is different from what is happening. They should come out and say those things they feel were stage managed by the cabal. What the cabal forces me to do. They should mention just one thing," he said.

Presidency, not opposition should prove what Aisha said - PDP

The national publicity secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan told Daily Trust last night that the presidency should be responsible for proving what Aisha Buhari said on cabal and not the opposition.

"It is not the opposition; it is his wife Aisha Buhari that said a cabal has hijacked his government and that he is not in charge.

"He cannot question the opposition. He should ask his wife to speak out further on how the cabal has taken over his government.

"It is not about the PDP, he should ask his wife to name those people that have taken over his government.

"I know when our wives speak about us, it comes from a very strong position so the best person to explain to Nigerians whether cabal has taken over Buhari's government or not is his wife, Aisha Buhari," he said.

On Monday, the spokesperson of the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organization, Segun Showunmi, asked Aisha Buhari to name those two individuals that "hijacked the administration for Nigerians to liberate the president from their stranglehold."

Showunmi who spoke with journalists in Abeokuta, Ogun state, described the first lady as the "most honest person in the corridor of power."

"I want to beg Her Excellency, Aisha Buhari to shatter the glass ceiling and mention those two people that have hijacked our president so that we can either go or beg them or we fight them and liberate the president of Nigeria from their stranglehold. Maybe in a remaining couple of months that he has he will be able to be the Buhari that people wanted him to be.

"We want to know them so that we can write their names in the black book of history that they were the ones that destroyed the Buhari presidency," he said.

Nigerians should rise and fight the cabal - Aisha

Speaking at a leadership summit in Abuja about two weeks ago, Aisha challenged Nigerians to fight the "two or three people who have dominated this government."

According to her, "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," she said at the event which had in attendance some key government functionaries.

"If 15.4 million people can bring in a government and only for the government to be dominated by two people 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)," the wife of the president said.

The rebuke was not the first since the advent of this administration in 2015.

Aisha Buhari had in 2016 during an interview with the Hausa Service of British Broadcasting Service (BBC) alleged that her husband was being controlled by a cabal, saying he had no hands in the appointment of most of his ministers.

"The President does not know 45 out of 50 of the people he appointed and I don't know them either, despite being his wife of 27 years. Some people are sitting down in their homes folding their arms only for them to be called to come and head an agency or a ministerial position," she alleged.

Apparently angered by the development, she threatened not to campaign for him if things continued that way.

However, when asked by journalists to comment on the matter in Germany during a joint press conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Buhari countered by saying his wife "Belong in the kitchen and also in the other room."

Buhari in full control - Associates

However, those close to the president who agreed to talk yesterday said the president had solved the problem by challenging those making the allegation to give examples.

Malam Mohammed Lawan, a member of the APC Presidential Campaign Council in 2015, said President Buhari was right to have challenged those playing the cabal card to score cheap political goals to mention an instance in order to prove the president wrong.

"Let them bring any proof that the government is controlled by the cabal; they should mention the name because even the wife as alleged didn't mention any name.

"Anybody can say anything but the president has challenged them to prove the allegation; it is then that Nigerians can probably decide to agree or not to agree that he is under control of a cabal.

"I have said it in different fora that there is no government, there is no power centre which doesn't have a kitchen cabinet which the opposition mischievously call cabal. It depends on the way you look at it.

"In Nigerian for instance where you have over 180 million people, the president cannot talk to everyone at the same time; or even all the governors of the 36 states at the same time, not to talk of all the legislators and other major stakeholders on political issues.

Asked if he believes the president is in charge, he said, "Yes, he is in charge because the buck stops on his table. The reason people are skeptical about who is in charge is the fact that he is not the president that talks too much and because of that, many issues would be subject of speculations.

Similarly, Faruq Adamu Aliyu, another close ally of the president, said "Every Nigerian is entitled to his or her opinion but of course I am in tune with what the president said. We are the people around him and we know, I can tell you that nobody in this country can say he controls President Buhari.

"He is responsible for everything that is happening in this country... Some people are being mischievous because he takes time to make decisions and that is his nature and that is in line with his training that he doesn't want to make unnecessary mistakes.

"It is not true that he has been hijacked; he is a man of himself and he has said it. He said his wife is entitled to her opinion and honestly that goes to show that he is a democrat and that is why anybody in this country can say anything, including his wife. She can disagree with him because she is a human being and she is entitled to one vote. So, if she does not accept what he is doing, she can vote for anybody of her choice. How more a democrat can be?" he asked.

Cabal allegation not new

Daily Trust reports that this is not the first time that the issue of cabal hijacking the presidency would be raised. In previous administration similar issue came up.

Under the administration of late Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, the trio of the then Minister of Agriculture, Abba Sayyadi Ruma; the then Chief Economic Adviser, Tanimu Yakubu and to some extent the current Minister of Interior, retired General Abdulrahman Dambazau, who served as Chief of Army Staff were seen as the cabal under the administration.

During the immediate past administration of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, elder statesman, Edwin Clark played a prominent role in directing the affairs of the government. At many occasions, he was referred to as the father of the president.

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