Dr. Junaid Mohammed comes across as a fire-breathing politician. At least, going by an interview he granted one of Nigeria’s major news outlets, not Nigeria News. It is possible he is a soft-spoken concerned Nigerian; but since I’ve not met him live, I won’t be able to state for sure. Soft-spoken or fire-breathing, his revelations are enough to give those who care serious fever.
What he revealed in that interview is the rabid nepotism of the present regime and how it fuels corruption and bad governance.
To be sure, most of what he revealed wasn’t new to Nigerians. Successive regimes in the country have embraced nepotism like a favorite lover. The kind of lover you would die for. Even Obasanjo, who should have known better, was guilty of positioning relatives and kinsmen to enjoy the patronage of government. The famous one being how he somehow contrived to make his daughter, Iyabo Obasanjo, a senator of the republic when he was the head of state between 1999 and 2007.
But even a cursory analysis of the revelations by Junaid Mohammed exposes how entrenched nepotism has become as a tool of governance in the current administration. Simply put, Buhari has redefined nepotism. The country has never had it this bad
Buhari’s nepotism at a glance
First of all, right at the top of the administration is a certain Mamman Daura. This is a man said to be the most powerful person in the presidency. Some even swear he is the de facto ruler of Nigeria. Daura, who is three years older than Buhari, is the son of President Buhari’s elder brother. That makes Buhari his uncle in an awkward way since Buhari is the younger man.
Daura has no known portfolio in the presidency, but he is said to be the President’s most trusted advisor and the head of the cabal surrounding Buhari. He is so powerful that even the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, and the former Secretary to the Federal Government (SFG) obeyed his commands. But don’t for one moment think Abba Kyari and the ex SFG didn’t enjoy working with him. They were best buddies even before Buhari became president.
With Mamman Daura at the top and with the tacit support of Buhari, the nepotism spread unabated. For instance, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Seriki, is Daura’s nephew (his eldest sister’s son). The Chief of Protocol in Aso Rock is Daura’s son-in-law. That position is normally reserved for a Senior Ambassador due to its peculiar nature.
The head of Buhari’s personal security detail is Daura’s younger brother while the President’s ADC is an in-law to the President’s family. Even the personal assistant (PA), a powerful position normally reserved for a director cadre officer in the civil service, is just a kid in his 20s. The PA, Sabiu Yusuf Tunde, is also Daura’s nephew through his younger sister. Apparently, Sabiu, who has never done any meaningful job until now, is a billionaire because of his ties to the presidency.
The revelation concerned citizens would find really annoying is the case of the current Director-General of the NYSC, Brigadier General Zakari. His deployment to that post is linked to his relations with Buhari’s niece. The niece in question, Amina Zakari, is an INEC Commissioner representing seven States in the northwest of the country.
When her husband, who was once a manager in UBA died, they decided to compensate the Zakaris by appointing the late husband’s younger brother to the NYSC top job.
There are many more cringe-worthy revelations about a vast network of family and friends rewarded with top government jobs. And it won’t be surprising if that is just the tip of the iceberg. You get the feeling that Buhari and Daura are determined to make the country the family’s private estate.
Things begin to make sense
Before Buhari came to power, he had the reputation of a no-nonsense man who detested all manner of corruption. His first stint as head of government was famous for jailing corrupt leaders and executing hard drug peddlers and armed robbers. His massive support base in the north was based on those antecedents. Even former Petroleum Minister Allison Madueke and Former Attorney General, Adokie Bello, went into exile because of his reputation. With the benefit of hindsight, they would have stayed back.
What puzzled so many Nigerians was why the President refused to sack certain characters giving his administration a bad name due to extensive corruption. Some thought it was the lack of conclusive evidence that stayed his hands.
But even so, it was felt the least he should have done was to have them investigated. But that never happened.
Now everything makes sense. Like Obasanjo once said, it is a familiar affair. So Buhari and Daura are possibly dealing with the problem like a family affair. We know families don’t like washing their dirty linen in public. Perhaps, a knock here and a rap on the knuckles there is what the President is dishing out as punishment.
For people like Junaid Mohammed, things are going to get worse if the President is not checked. Many people like me who supported Buhari simply to remove the exceedingly corrupt Goodluck Jonathan, are left wondering if Nigeria is salvageable. If a Buhari can sink so low, deliverance from corruption seems like an eternal pipe dream now.
We don’t know what Buhari has done to annoy Junaid Mohammed because it is uncommon for people like him to pick on people like Buhari. They come from the same clique that had cultivated the habit of raping Nigeria since independence.
But whatever Buhari did to make him sing this hard, let it be extended to others so more grisly revelations would be dropped in the public domain. Nigerians deserve to know how they are being misruled.