by Alexander O. Onukwue
The senior special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, released a long statement debunking media reports that there has been a cabal working to undermine Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The over one thousand words statement made to express the view of a united Presidential team, of both the President’s and Vice President’s staff, had special mention of the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, for not being “a power centre” but one who needs to have “full awareness of the issues being discussed whenever these groups meet with the President”.
Mr Kyari has been the focus of much discussion and writings as the supposed show-runner for a so-called cabal within the Aso Villa. He has been cited variously as being behind the running of the Government, together with other key figures like Mamman Daura and Lawal Daura.
Apparently, the President’s spokesman sees this as a negative for his boss, as it has presented President Buhari as not being in charge of the affairs of state, rather being under the manipulation of the shadow forces, led by Mr Kyari.
Mallam Shehu describes Mr Kyari’s Aso Rock role as being “like the headman of all the President’s political appointees. He has direct responsibility for multiple levels of staff working for the President. Part of his role includes liaising with ministries and parastatals”.
He also made a point to note that because of that level of responsibility placed on the Chief of Staff, Mr Kyari should be seen as a trustworthy ally of the President because “anybody who occupies such office has impeccable credentials of total loyalty to the President”.
This significantly vast responsibility, Mallam Shehu explains, does not make the Chief of Staff usurp the powers of the President. Instead, the President “needs the absolute loyalty of his Chief of Staff”. In a line that was categorical, the statement said that “No Chief of Staff including this one can create hurdles for a president and survive the next day”.
It can be induced that Mallam Shehu is convinced of the importance of the Chief of Staff’s duties, but is not given to the notion that the President has gone below Mr Kyari on the chain of command. There was also some mention of a supposed smear campaign against Mr Kyari being about money:
“A careful assessment of some these allegations with a rational mind will show that there is an orchestrated campaign to smear the COS and indirectly the President.
If I can speculate on the matter, I will say that the problem Mallam Abba Kyari has with most people is that he, like the President he serves, will not throw money at people in order to please them.
As COS, Mallam has refused to keep cash impress and has turned down a monthly grant of N200 million customarily given to the office. This is money freely spent because they were not required to account for what they did with it.”