Insinuations that a powerful group, described as a cabal within the Presidential Villa, Abuja, is deftly manipulating the levers of power in the Muhammadu Buhari administration to its advantage, is not the correct position of things, a source, who is a close associate of the president, has fired back.
The source, who declined to be named, has also been accused of being a prominent member of the “powerful cabal” believed by some as being in charge of Aso Rock and running the government, while Buhari recuperates. The source said: “The people they are alleging to be the cabal running the government are not anything near what may be described as a cabal.
“These are people who have always been with the president, and you cannot expect him to simply discard them just because he is now president. These are people who have been with him for many years; they eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together. They pray with him. They can advise him, but that is not the same thing as dictating to him.” The fact that governance process is moving at a slow pace at the moment, he argued, clearly shows that Buhari is in charge.
“If truly a cabal has taken over governance and is acting in the name of the president, now that he is ill, then appointments into vacant positions and other government activities should be faster,” the source said.
“It follows logically that if the president is ill and things are still slow, then are they saying members of the so-called cabal they accused of being in charge are also not well? “One thing I can tell you categorically is that the president is not a man you can dictate to. The idea of an Aso Rock cabal is a myth.”
The belief that the cabal had taken control and is firmly in charge became rife when the president’s wife, Aisha, in a BBC interview, accused some individuals of having hijacked her husband’s government. He could not preside at the Federal Executive Council meetings held in the Aso Rock council chambers for three consecutive weeks, and was also not seen in public and his office.
Rather, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who briefed newsmen on the development after the FEC meeting said that the president sent a message to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and asked him to preside at the meeting. Alhaji Mohammed explained that the president chose to work at home that particular day. The following week and even last Wednesday, the president neither presided at the FEC meeting nor did he attend the Jumat service at the Aso Rock mosque on Friday of that week. His absence naturally fueled the anxiety of the nation and fed the rumour mill, leading to claims of a cabal having taken charge of Aso Rock machinery of governance as the president’s health allegedly deteriorated.
Apparently to blunt these claims and end the rumours about his health status, he attended Jumat service last Friday and interacted openly with his aides, government officials and other worshippers.
Said the source: “If a so-called cabal is in charge, things will be swifter; you will find more decisive actions taken. The president is in charge. People alleging cabal take over are just out to demonize others, to gain whatever undue advantage in the scheme of things, nothing more.”