Cabals exist everywhere and at all levels of authority, tiers of government, organizational administration even at community levels. Bad commentaries and pouring invectives on the leadership at any level are to say the least, denigrating, demoralizing and demotivating. A king or monarch without a “stonewall or bulwark’’ mounted by trusted servants, aides or officials is vulnerable to attacks and all kinds of assault.
Cabals hold sway at palaces as the king is naturally protected against direct assaults and verbal duels. Even when his majesty is seated, the Prime Minister and any other authorized spokesperson speaks on his behalf and takes the heat or backlashes.
To see the king, and going by the set up at the palaces, one has to go through the several levels of gate-keeping authorities for clearance, security checks and approvals and that is why security breaches are a rarity at that level.
In big companies, conglomerates, organizations, associations and business empires, “cabals’’ in the form of Executive Management, Boards or Committees do exist. This is because some level of politics is involved in decision-making and to give teeth to the executive orders. It is commonplace to hear at that level that the “MD/CEO says or approves so and so.’’
In governance, aides appointed by the helmsman and Chief Executive are trusted and tested, who must be of phlegmatic temperament and are willing and ready to carry out tasks to the letter with the appointor’s stamp of authority. The aide(s) must be disingenuous, plucky, calm, upbeat and well-informed about developments, ready to ward off any gale-force, fend off cooked up allegations, throw lifebelt to floundering issues in consultation with his Principal.
Experientially, serving and past governors all have powerful aides with some of them later becoming governors, ministers and ambassadors. One of such is the Chief of Staff position. If the head of the cabal or kitchen cabinet had not mastered the state craft with a pedigree of astuteness, master-organizer/planner and tactician, he will stand no chance of being entrusted with power.
In Nigeria today, the man who calls the shot at the nation’s seat of power is Abba Kyari, who was appointed to that office on August 27, 2015.
According to Wikipedia, Kyari a retired Nigerian Army one-star General (Brigadier), was a military governor in the North, Commander, Nigerian Army’s 1 Brigade and Army’s Artillery. As an attestation to his stellar performance in public office as governor, he successfully implemented a master plan for Kaduna City.
He also led the Northern delegation to the 1994 National Constitutional Conference and had the singular opportunity to chair the Defence Committee. Kyari has since made a successful foray into business and politics.
Kyari, a public administrator par excellence in the eye of the public and from people’s assessment, has a lot of political and administrative savvy, aversion to media publicity, pulling himself always by his bootstraps, unperturbed and focused always on his duties, and giving no room for any distraction. A man still full of energy at his age and as highly circumspect as his Principal.
Without being immodest, those giving Kyari bashing and calling him names such as the head of a cabal at Presidency are either ignorant of his duties and roles as the head of the presidential staff and the president’s closest aide or are mischievous. For the purpose of education, the word “cabal’’ (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English) is suggestive of a “ small group of people who make secret plans, especially in order to have political power.’’
Such plans, inter alia, are political, administrative, economic, social, security etc for the smooth and effective coordination of the Presidency and governance.
The structure and organization of American Presidency is apposite. The presidency is really a group of organizations rather than an individual person. The President is the Chief of State as well as the Chief Executive Officer, representing the country in its relationship with other nations even as Chief diplomat as well as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
With the enormousness of his powers, duties, influence and relevance, the president, therefore, needs a “strong’’ aide in the capacity of the Chief of Staff to assist him in enhancing his capacity to deliver and discharge his gargantuan functions as president. There is no gainsaying that the President is expected to fill the position with somebody with political support, loyalty and acumen who, of course, is also sympathetic to his administration’s aims, objectives and policies.
In U.S. where we borrowed our model of presidency from, the White House consists of hundreds of people who are the president’s personal staff, trusted and loyal; most of whom are his friends or former employees.
However, in Nigeria, the sponsored hue and cry, huffing and campaign of calumny against Abba Kyari is probably as a result of his stature, enigmatic expressions and unwavering loyalty to Mr President.
He is passionate in his desire for the President’s success, for the wheel of governance to run smoothly devoid of the distraction of the 2023 succession battles. Kyari brands such distractions as a disservice to the electorate and Mr President. He is equally averse to the use of state resources by the President’s appointees to prosecute the 2023 polls, still more than three and a half years away.
Kyari’s forte is delivering next level good governance, bequeathing a legacy of electoral reform and non-imposition of candidates or “anointing’’ of a successor – wants a divine arrangement; zero tolerance for graft and malfeasance in government.
Observably since the return of Nigeria to full-blown democracy in 1999, Kyari, no doubts, has emerged the most powerful and effective Chief of Staff in Aso Rock. In politics anywhere in the world, it is trendy to hear of “demolition job’’, that is, opposition and some senior party leaders, who have an agenda to set out to do a “demolition job’’ either on the President and or the Chief of Staff.
The goal is simple: Get rid of the hard-wired CoS, the president’s master-shield and pare down or whittle down the president’s influence, powers, or the strong presidency, compromise and take advantage of its vulnerability as well as plant their own cabal to actualise the dream (2023).
Recounting our rich political history, the great sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, by the strength of character of his “cabal’’ at that time (trusted aides) – Ex-Govs. Adekunle Ajasin, Bola Ige, Lateef Jakande, Ambrose Alli, Bisi Onabanjo, Profs. Banji Akintoye, Bamiro etc) was able to successfully implement the free and qualitative education in the defunct Western Region of Nigeria, the first in Africa and even before our colonisers, Britain introduced free education.
A weak presidency with lily-livered aides is synonymous to a floundering presidency and government, while a strong presidency with men of courage and sangfroid will translate to a strong, effective and stable polity. A masquerade without the man behind the masquerader is nothing but a mere costume. Only the guilty and those that Prof. Wole Soyinka referred to as “corruption fighting back’’ and those positioning themselves so soon after the 2019 elections for the 2023 presidential race, are afraid of an uncompromising CoS Abba Kyari.
President Muhammadu Buhari should not push the panic button or allow himself to be stampeded into tinkering with the configuration at the power centre in the Presidency, else the “stonewall’’ will be broken down and flung open to those on the fray for rough and tumble of politics – ultimately to take over power with deftness in 2023 thereby destroying the gains and legacies of eight years of Buhari Presidency.
The sardonic comments about the person and office of the Chief of Staff are unsavoury. The Office of the Chief of Staff is strategic and remains the fulcrum of the nation’s Presidency and only a trusted, tested and experienced administrator can fit into it.
– Segun Awoniyi writes from Federal Housing Estate, Kubwa, Abuja
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Pantami: An unstoppable game changer, By Uwa Suleiman
Long before he was called to public service, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) had prepared for the task ahead. His life- long foray into the highly complex, intellectual world of digital scholarship, long before we even embraced technology in these climes, is testimony that nature had behooved on him the role he is so excellently playing today. It is neither accidental nor a mistake or even some inexplicable phenomena that at this very auspicious time in our nation’s history, a man of Pantami’s standing and repute is exactly where he is today. No great leader happens by accident and nature makes no mistakes. In fact, it is God’s grand design that a leader is born, shaped, prepared , tested, purified and molded for the task ahead. Like the true worth and weight of gold is tested by fire, so is the life of a great leader tested and strengthened by trials and the stormy weathers of life.
However one looks at it, whether from a microscopic or a telescopic perspective, Pantami is one of the greatest , most influential leaders of this generation, a living attestation that the wisdom of Solomon has nothing to do with Methuselah’s age. Pantami was born ready, armed with uncanny wisdom, knowledge, focus, determination, resilience, an awe inspiring fearlessness in the pursuit of justice and truth, a doggedness that defies distraction and the ability to set the pace in the most unpaved paths.
The renaming of the Ministry which he oversees to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, which has become a thorn in the flesh of some myopic, misguided or out rightly unpatriotic elements, gives an insight into the depth of Pantami’s understanding of where we should be and how to get there. A man who is thoroughly meticulous in his actions and responsibilities, he initiated and pursued the name change to properly position the Ministry, expand its scope to include the requisite functions and give legal backing to it, in line with global best practice. He took his team back to the drawing board and laid a formidable foundation for the process of digitalising the economy. This is the same strategy deployed by technologically advanced societies globally, the same strategy that has put them ahead of us, the same strategy we have always yearned for but lacked the leadership to implement. Pantami has risen to the occasion and filled the vacuum, by demonstrating the will and courage to execute his mandate, as tasked by President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, and the very people who should lend their support are indeed the crusaders of stagnation and retrogression.
Judging from the numerous feeble and cowardly recent attempts, at distracting or even stopping the laudable strides of Dr Pantami in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sector, through cheap blackmail, it is only logical to conclude that quite a number of hitherto, “lords of lawlessness” have become quite uncomfortable with his mass oriented, people friendly policies which uphold the rule of law.
It is both ironic and shameful, that while fifth columnists are working against the very principles and ideas we should all project, our neighbours on the continent both near and far flung, are inspired by Dr Pantami’s strategies and have refocused their countries’ digitalisation agenda drawing from his policies back home. At the Cyber security Conference for ECOWAS ICT Ministers, held in Ghana in October, his Ghanaian counterpart, Honourable Ursula Owusu-Ekufu after Nigeria’s presentation, stated that they were inspired by Dr Pantami’s policy of deactivating all improperly registered SIM Cards and right there and then, she followed in his footsteps and issued the same directive to the sector in her country. And that is not enough for an African female leader who has publicly declared Dr Pantami as a source of inspiration, she has also demonstrated her government’s willingness to collaborate with Nigeria for knowledge transfer as she has requested that a team from Ghana, visits Nigeria for the sole purpose of understudying NITDA, so they can benefit from Dr Pantami’s legacies and implement them in their country. There is no history of such a feat based purely on exemplary leadership and merit in the sector.
On the 2nd of December 2019, South Africa’s Communications Commission ordered its Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to reduce the cost of data, a clear twenty six days behind the same directive by our own proactive, forward thinking Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. If indeed there is any justification in the attack and totally baseless criticism of the policy, I expect that the same venom should have been directed at the South African Authority, for after all, the pursuit of what is right and just, should not be selective or discriminatory. Commissioner for communications Tembinkosi Bonakele, went even further to threaten legal action against MTN and Vodacom if they fail to comply within two months.
The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), in its latest report released on the 22nd October 2019, declared that Africans face the most expensive internet charges in the world! The A4AI’s report is based on its definition of affordability as, 1GB of mobile broadband data, costing no more than 2% of average monthly income. Studies conducted across the continent reveal an appalling 7.12% averaging almost a sixth of monthly income in some cases. The cost of data is a major determinant of access.
In Nigeria, a reported forty million citizens have no access to the internet and Dr Pantami finds this situation totally unacceptable. He has the mandate to change the narrative and has proceeded to act accordingly. I personally, and millions of other Nigerians find it totally incomprehensible as to why anybody would stand against it. This ilk of illegality, who feed fat on the deprivation and dry milking of the ordinary consumers, and have no sense of loyalty or duty to country, should know that Dr Pantami’s ultimate objective transcends local recognition not for himself, but for Nigeria. The A4AI, for the purposes of clarity, is a globally credible initiative of the Web Foundation founded by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web, in partnership with Google and Facebook. This organisation has put in place a Good Practices Database which monitors improved access and affordability. Namibia and Kenya have already been cited on the platform for improved access and tax eliminations. Dr Pantami aims to effect such a phenomenal change in the sector as to put Nigeria on that pedestal. So unless the naysayers have more credibility than the A4AI, or nobler patriotic intentions than the Honourable Minister, I humbly advice they desist from their ignoble acts as no cabal will survive under the leadership of Dr Pantami in the ICT Sector.
The precedence he has set in NITDA, has become the solid bedrock on which sanity, the rule of law and professionalism now thrive. That same inherent leadership quality is what is manifesting in his capacity as Minister today. You cannot change or stop a man like Pantami from following his convictions, the law and his heart, when it comes to the discharge of his duties especially in upholding justice for the benefit of majority.
Here is a man who has staked everything to give his very best to the service of country, here is a man who is inspiring governments of other nations and galvanizing them into action, here is a man who has proven his mettle through his antecedents, one of our own, willing ready and committed and all some nitwits can do is attempt to discredit his efforts by ascribing petty politics to his office for their own selfish gains.
Dr Pantami is not a man to make loose or unguarded statements, so when he speaks, his words resonate substance. At a meeting with stakeholders in his office recently, he declared his stand. In his words, “They say, it is unwise to put all your eggs in one basket, I have deliberately put all my eggs in one basket, so my attention remains undivided. I have no choice but to commit all I have to ensure my eggs are protected and productive”. There is no Agency or Parastatal under his purview, that is left out of his transformation drive. He attends to issues with equal zeal as they exist and arise in every facet.
In the event of doubt or ignorance, let me make it categorically clear that if I have not learnt anything in the three years and three months I have been privileged to serve, under the impeccable leadership of this great Nigerian and extraordinary human being, it certainly is not his strength of character. This is a man whose determination and focus is further fuelled by criticism. The failure to support worthy leadership, and the oppression of it has been the bane of development in these climes. Both challenges however, do not apply to the intellectual par excellence, as he has the full backing of President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, to deliver his mandate, legal might, a formidable and competent team loyal to his cause and the support of millions of Nigerians. Every strategy, policy, reform, directive and action, is inextricably linked to the President’s three (3) point Agenda of National Security, Anti Corruption and A Digital Economy. He is effectively blocking the leakages deployed as conduit pipes to siphon national resources and shortchange the people, he is deploying technology to enhance security and address distress situations across the country, and of course doggedly pursuing the Digital Economy Agenda, with the strategy document in green mode already.
We are at a point in our nation’s history where business as usual cannot hold. The world is developing at the speed of light aided by technology and Dr Pantami is too busy, trying to make sure we are on board that train as a nation to reckon with, in the areas of innovation, capacity and infrastructure. He is too busy delivering his mandate to the millions of Nigerians who benefit daily from his mass-oriented leadership style. Those who cannot add value to the system should not sabotage the laudable efforts and achievements of those who are.
Pantami will not be oppressed or suppressed, he will not be intimidated and he will not abandon his mandate.
Uwa Suleiman is Spokesperson to the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.
Oniru Obaship Stool: Enough of lies, By Babatunde Olowu
It has become necessary to nip in the bud the vicious lies being shamelessly peddled by certain unscrupulous fellows who have allowed their greed to rob them of their senses. Where good people choose to stay away while untruths are being fed to the people, they (the good people) enable the ground upon which the truth is forever lost, actual history is interred and the lies become the new truths.
The desires of certain persons to illegally appropriate the currently vacant stool of Oniru of Iruland has foolishly caused them to fabricate history and feed their fabrications to the innocent members of the public. After several failed previous attempts at selling their fabrications to the people, they have invented a new one wherein they are claiming that a certain ruling house within the Oniru Royal Family had been occupying the Obaship stool of Oniru of Iruland for the past 75 (Seventy Five) years. This claim, we must say, is the height of falsity. That any lineage has been occupying the Obaship stool of Onri of Iruland for the past 75 (Seventy Five) years is both factually unfounded and legally ungrounded.
To set the record straight, it is a verifiable fact that there has been only 1 (one) Kabiyesi Oniru of Iruland from time immemorial till date. The Late Kabiyesi, Oba Abidoun Idowu Oniru has been the only Oba of Iruland till date. Therefore, we must not fail to ask these evil people who are hell bent on wanting the people to believe that the one family has been occupying the Obaship stool of Iruand for a phantom period of 75 years to please tell the world who the occupants are prior to the late Oba Abidoun Idowu Oniru. Just like in the case of Obaship of Ikate, only one Eleguishi of ikateland reigned before the present Oba who incidentally is the son of immediate past Oba.
To further expose the lies, prior to 1995 when the late Oba Abidoun Idowu Oniru was crowned as the first Oba of Iruland, what obtained was a chieftaincy position. One does not require any form of formal education in order to appreciate the difference between a king and a chief.
May we advise that rather than resorting to harmful lies, these peddlers of falsehoods may vie to be chiefs, if they so desire: the only obstacle is that even to become a chief in Iruland or anywhere else in Lagos State, integrity is key (a quality they apparently lack).
It is not much of a surprise that these unscrupulous fellows would take this path of dishonour and shamelessly seek to mislead our people: we know their antecedents. Persons that have built a culture out of deceiving people cannot change over night. As the saying goes: eefin ni iwa.
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