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Buhari presidency cracks

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President Buhari

Monguno, Kyari locked in fierce battle of supremacy
• ‘How chief of staff hijacked presidential powers’
• Revelation validates call for Buhari’s resignation, says PDP
• Service chiefs warned against taking orders from CoS

The signs have always been there: inter-agency rivalry, uncoordinated national security, and other policy missteps, discordant tunes on all matters and a hardly coherent presidency.

Yesterday, the bungling contraption that the Muhammadu Buhari presidency has become over time advertised itself publicly with the fight between the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, a retired army general, and the Presidential Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, over the nation’s security blowing into the open.

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Specifically, a leaked memo published in an online medium on Monday exposed the underbelly of bad blood within the presidency.

In the memo purportedly written by Monguno, he accused Kyari of undue and dangerous interference in matters bordering on national security, among other scathing allegations.

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Also, in the memo first published by SaharaReporters and Premium Times, the NSA warned Kyari against meddling in security affairs in the presidency. He also warned the service chiefs to stop taking orders from Kyari and to be wary of his interference.

The memo, addressed to the service chiefs and copied to the president and ministers for foreign affairs, defence, interior, police affairs and Kyari himself, is dated December 2019.

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Kyari has long been hailed as one of the most powerful men in the Buhari presidency and the head of a cabal accused of running President Buhari’s administration behind the scene.

The chief of staff is known to be one of the president’s closest aides. He plans Buhari’s schedules while ministers are said to queue in his office to see the president.

Kyari’s influence became clear to many during a retreat organised by the presidency for the then ministers-designate.

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While declaring the retreat open on November 5, 2015, Buhari said: “In addition, all communications and appointments from you (ministers) to the presidency should be routed through the Office of the Chief of Staff as it is the normal (procedure) in this presidential system.”

But Monguno has fired a warning memo to all service chiefs to desist from taking further directives from Kyari, according to documents seen by the Premium Times.

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The NSA said Kyari’s directives to service chiefs were sometimes issued without the knowledge much less approval of the president, a practice he said had added to the government’s failure to contain insecurity.

“Chief of staff to the president is not a presiding head of security, neither is he sworn to an oath of defending the country,” Monguno said in the December 9, 2019, letter.

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“As such, unprofessional practices such as presiding over meetings with service chiefs and heads of security organisations as well as ambassadors and high commissioners to the exclusion of the NSA and/or supervising ministers are a violation of the constitution and directly undermine the authority of Mr. President.

“Such acts and continued meddlesomeness by the chief of staff have not only ruptured our security and defence efforts but have slowed down any meaningful gain that Mr. President has sought to achieve.”

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The NSA was further quoted as having told the service chiefs that “As professionals, you are aware that the security of the Federal Republic of Nigeria requires concerted and centralized effort taking into account internal, external and diplomatic factors.

“It is therefore detrimental to our collective security that the chief of staff who is a non-supervising minister holds meetings with diplomats, security chiefs and heads of agencies.

“Pursuant to the foregoing, you are by this letter directed to desist from these illegal acts that serve nothing but the continuous undermining of our national security framework. Any breach of this directive will attract the displeasure of Mr. President.”

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Presidential spokesmen, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, could not be reached for comments. The duo did not also reply to text messages sent to them on the matter by The Guardian.

Monguno’s letter came as insecurity returns to the centre stage as a major cause for worry among Nigerians.

The president has repeatedly promised to curb the crises, many of which he met in the office, but has largely failed like his predecessors.

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Security experts, opposition and federal lawmakers have responded by advising the president to fire his service chiefs.

The service chiefs have been unable to rein in Boko Haram insurgents since 2015 when Buhari named them to take charge of various arms of the nation’s security architecture.

While previously held swathes of land have been taken back from terrorists, deadly attacks on civilians and military targets have worsened since 2018.

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The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, said in recent media interviews that the military had degraded insurgents’ capacity to attack Abuja and other cities outside the war-ravaged northeast.

National security sources told Premium Times yesterday that the fresh memo showed how Kyari had helped in keeping the service chiefs in office despite overwhelming calls for their ouster.

It also underscored the frustration faced by Monguno and others who found Kyari’s influence over the president too domineering for national benefit, the sources said.

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In its reaction to the development, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday declared that the revelation by the NSA that strange persons, including Kyari, had hijacked presidential powers, had validated calls for Buhari to resign as president.

The party further said that “following this revelation by no other person than the NSA, it reiterates its earlier position that President Buhari should waste no further time in relinquishing his position as president since it is now obvious that he has become overwhelmed by official duties.”

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According to the PDP, security is the most important element of governance followed by the welfare of the citizens, and since President Buhari has relinquished these statutory responsibilities, he has no other reason to remain in office.

The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “The NSA’s letter, which is already in the public domain, further exposes the fact that our nation has been on autopilot under President Buhari, whose abdication of serious matters of state is directly responsible for the untold suffering, anguish, pain and escalated insecurity in the country.”

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The PDP described the Gen. Monguno revelation as “a national tragedy which showcases the fact that President Buhari has become so irredeemably overwhelmed to the extent that the responsibilities of his office, including presiding over very sensitive security matters, have now been taken over by Kyari, who functions as a defacto president.”

“Nigerians are invited to note the verdict by the NSA, who, in support of the position of the PDP, affirmed that such a situation is responsible for the failure of the government to defend Nigerians and find a solution to the worsened insecurity” on President Buhari’s watch, the statement added.

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