100 Days After: Buhari, The Cabal And The Intrigues
It’s been over 100 days since the President left Nigeria for London to attend to his ailing health.
He has undoubtedly broken many records and set new ones. This is the longest period any sitting President in Nigeria would stay away from office.
Since assuming office as Nigeria’s democratically elected President on May 29, 2015, Buhari has been away four times on similar vacations.
During his first trip, eight months after assuming office, Buhari departed the country on February 5, 2016 to return five days later.
Four months later on June, 5 2016, Buhari embarked on a second journey to London, this time to attend to a problem with his ear.
His third trip on January 19, 2017, however, dominated national discuss after the trip was extended by 40 days.
On March 10, exactly 50 days after his departure, Buhari returned but was not able to adequately discharge his duties.
It became conspicuous that the President did not fully recover before the ‘cabal’ forcefully flew him back to Nigeria.
His critical condition kept him away from public functions as he failed to preside over the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting three consecutive times in one month.
When he resurfaced several days later at the Aso Villa Mosque for Jumatt prayers on Friday, May 5 after much pressure from the public, his appearance merely fanned the flames.
After receiving the 82 Chibok girls that were released by the Boko Haram insurgents on Sunday, May 7, he was again ferried back to London on the same day when it became obvious he could not cope with the situation at home.
Days of silence ensued. The cold silence over his health challenge became worrisome as speculations heightened that he might be clinically dead.
The main political opposition - the PDP- helped feed those rumors, with one of its leaders Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, in a tone of great authority, said Buhari is on life support.
However, photos of the President meeting with different categories of public officials and politicians in London were circulated to calm concerned citizens.
Also, officials who have met the president including Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, epeatedly said he was getting better and would soon return to the country.
Whereas Buhari had dutifully and lawfully excused himself and delegated power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who became Acting President, this created fresh and troubling problems on the political front.
Concerns about his health mean his potential successors are jockeying for power behind him.
Already some politicians are entrenched, holding regular meetings, appointing themselves to replace Buhari in 2019.
Divisions have emerged inside the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as senior officials position themselves for power, with one faction allegedly pledging their loyalty to the cabal while another backs Osinbajo.
Although, Osinbajo has never said he wants to run in 2019, the cabal is said to be worried with his rising profile.
He has managed to calm tensions in the Niger Delta oil hub and pushed small steps such as a forex trade window to narrow the gap between the official and parallel naira exchange rates.
The cabal has on many occasions forced him to rescind some of his decisions.
Recently, he was forced to withdraw the names of two people he appointed into the board of the ICPC.
He also had a running battle with the National Assembly over certain statements and policies he had made.
Though the President over the weekend said he was eager to return, there are still no clues as to specific time frames.
He said his coming back is still dependent on his doctors’ advice.
On his return, Buhari is expected to attend to some pressing issues that seem to be taking too long to sort out.
A report by a committee set up by the President in April this year, to probe the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Ayo Oke, is awaiting his final decision.
The duo remain suspended and their offices occupied by the most senior civil servants.
There is also nomination of the Acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu, who the Senate rejected twice.
There are also claims of an impending re-shuffle within a tiring and exhausted cabinet.