By Bala Ibrahim.
President Muhammadu Buhari is one President whose tenure in office seems destined for contact with countless conflicting challenges, that range from the issue of insecurity and employee stress, to the frustrating problem of distrust amongst appointees. As if scheduled for partnership with persistent problems, President Buhari’s cabinet is always in the news for one mistrust between members or the other.
Before the demise of his late chief of staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, almost every thing that went wrong in the government was placed on his doorstep. Ministers were said to be complaining of inaccessibility to the president because of the roadblock placed on the way by Mallam Abba.
Things got so bad that the former Head of service, Mrs. Oyo-Ita, was captured on camera having a heated argument with the late chief of staff to the president, while Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was seen mediating at the presidential villa. This was few minutes to the arrival of President Buhari for the Federal Executive Council meeting.
Before then, the rumor mill of the country was constantly churning out news of the sour relationship between Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the then senior minister of Transport and his minister of state in charge of Aviation, Hadi Sirika. For a serious government, such clashes between colleagues could come with concern, or the anxiety that can cause a loss of sleep.
Providence, through divine intervention, combined with careful considerations, to effect some changes that seem to halt or simmer down the hitherto tensed situation.
Mrs. Oyo-Ita retired and was replaced by Mrs. Folashade Mejabi Yemi-Esan, as the Head of service. Mallam Abba Kyari died and was succeeded by Mr.Ibrahim Gambari, as chief of staff to the president.
In his wisdom also, PMB separated the Ministry of Aviation from the Ministry of transportation, and elevated Hadi Sirika to a substantive minister in charge of Aviation.
Ordinarily, these changes ought to smoothen the rough terrain and straighten strained relationships. But that didn’t look so.
With Hadi Sirika gone, Amaechi’s apparent fighting appetite only changed gear, from Hadi to Hadiza.
About three months ago, precisely on the 5th of May, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the suspension of Hadiza Bala Usman as the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), on the advise of minister Rotimi Amaechi, who is the supervising minister in charge of the NPA.
The media space was filled with the news that the Rotimi Amaechi and Hadiza Bala Usman fight is a personal one and a power tussle.
In 2016, Hadiza’s appointment as the MD of the NPA generated some grumbles from some areas, with some people suggesting that Hadiza was appointed because of Minister Amaechi and Governor Mallam Nasir el-Rufai’s connections, whose combined influence on the President cannot allow him to deny them whatever they wanted.
However, things changed in 2021, as Amaechi began accusing Hadiza of being disloyal. He commenced complaining that she was arrogant, hence the need to cut her wings, which he did.
A probe panel was set up with some wide ranging mandate that includes, examining and investigating the administrative policies and strategies adopted by Hadiza Usman, to ensure they conform, or comply with the extant laws and rules from 2016 to date.
Unless by some miracles, Hadiza’s case is nothing but fait accompli, because Amaechi would not allow her return to the same seat.
Again another fight is beginning to brew between the same Amaechi and another lady in the government, this time around the minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, a woman that is getting commendations from every angle.
According to the reports making round, minister Amaechi is accusing the Finance Minister of Frustrating the $200m Cabotage Fund Disbursement. Rotimi Amaechi is saying Hajiya Zainab Ahmed is averse to the disbursement of the $200million Cabotage Vessels Finance Fund (CVFF), which according to him, is the reason she is frustrating it.
Amaechi said at the 2020 federal ministry of transportation ministerial retreat in Lagos that President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney-general of the federation, Abubakar Malami, have approved the disbursement of the fund, but the minister of finance, Zainab Ahmed, protested against the disbursement under the guise that it is a public fund and shouldn’t be disbursed to private operators.
Zainab is known to be an attested professional that does not compromise prudential guidelines or submits to any selfish interest, particularly where reputation is likely to be marred.
Certainly Amaechi had played a vital role in the coming to power of the Buhari administration, but he seems to be changing from an Amigo to an albatross.
It is an open secret that he is angling for the position of the President come 2023, but does he need to be disturbing the balance of the boat because of personal ambition?
The failure to inaugurate a substantive board for the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, is partly blamed on ministers Akpabio and Amaechi, perplexingly for personal interests.
It is very sad to note that while the regime is reported to be recording successes in the fight against insecurity, where the insurgents in the Sambisa forest are surrendering in mass due to the sustained raid by air and ground assaults, and same is happening with the bandits in the northwestern region of Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna, on the political side, something like subversion is reportedly setting in.
Unless the intention is to frustrate the success of the administration, or undermine the power and authority of the president, people in power must not engage in open confrontation with their colleagues in cabinet.
Hence the need to caution, or even question the sincere stance of Amaechi.
Is he changing from an amiable Amigo, to an albatross?