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Abba Kyari Behind Controversial ‘Coordinator’ Clause In Buhari’s Letter To National Assembly

buhari and abba kyari

President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, has been named as the architect of the president’s controversial letter to the National Assembly informing legislators that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was to be the “coordinator” of government activities during Mr Buhari’s latest trip to Britain to undergo urgent medical care.

The phrasing of the letter, a departure from President Buhari’s previous ones where Mr Osinbajo was explicitly named “Acting President,” has generated widespread discussion and a measure of political tension within Nigeria.

According to Saharareporters, the decision to use the phrase, “the Vice President will coordinate the activities of the Government,” instead of expressing what the Constitution stipulates, that the Vice President becomes “Acting President” with the transmission of the letter, was singularly taken by Mr Kyari.

Furthermore, there are reports Mr Abba Kyari bothered to seek the opinion of the Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, before drafting the much-discussed memo to the National Assembly. However, the sources said President Buhari had in the past insisted that the Attorney General should at all times be informed about such important constitutional communication between him and the National Assembly.

Reports also indicate that Mr Buhari was irate on learning about the political fallout from the ill-motivated decision to alter the usual content of his letter to the National Assembly. “Abba Kyari has some explanation to make to the President who was completely taken by surprise,” said a source.

The President had signed the letter on Sunday, after a quick glance, with the understanding that the letter was couched the same way as the previous letter he signed when he went on an extended medical leave last January. “I can assure you that he never knew of the ridiculous insertion of the word ‘coordinating’ in his letter,” said the source.

SaharaReporters also reported that the Chief of Staff recently sidelined Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, when setting aside the minister’s list of heads of agencies under his ministry and brought his own names. “Since then, Abba Kyari blocked every attempt by the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, to see Mr President until the release of the Chibok girls last weekend,” said the source.

It is still unclear as to why Mr Kyari orchestrated the change of the second paragraph of the President’s letter to the National Assembly, but suggestions indicate that the Chief of Staff had always seen some influential members of the Buhari administration, including the Vice President and some ministers, as countervailing forces against him, and wanted to phrase the letter to the National Assembly in a way that degraded the VP’s powers to act fully during Mr Buhari’s absence, Saharareporters reports.

“Besides VP Osinbajo, Abba Kyari considers ministers such as Lai Mohammed, Babatunde Fashola, Rotimi Amaechi, Audu Ogbeh, Hadi Sirika, Malami, and Jumai Alhassan as those he should cut off from the President,” said our source. He added that some ministers, including the Budget & Planning Minister, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, who tried to work with Mr Kyari have become so frustrated by the Chief of Staff’s notorious tardiness and sloppiness.

Saharareporters further revealed that the Chief of Staff’s desire to isolate and control Mr Buhari often created political problems for the President, with many critics believing that he approved some of the bizarre moves made by his chief personal aide.

Mr Kyari’s critics in the administration have often accused him of believing himself the real deputy to President Buhari. “But all he has managed to do is just staining the otherwise unassailable personal integrity of the President,” said one critic.

On more than one occasion, according to critics of Mr. Kyari, he put himself up to assignments that should have gone to a minister if the President and his deputy were not available. They cited a recent example of what happened last Sunday when the 82 Chibok girls were released. Mr. Kyari “took it upon himself to go and receive the girls without informing the Women Affairs Minister, Jumai Alhassan, whose ministry is responsible for everything pertaining to the Chibok girls in the Buhari administration,” a government insider said.

According to Saharareporters, an official who attended the reception said Mr. Kyari sidelined the media team of the President and carried out official functions meant for the VP and other appointees of Buhari. Regarding the reception for the freed Chibok girls, our sources disclosed that the Information Minister and the Women Affairs Minister got wind of the event, and simply showed up to attend in spite of Mr. Kyari’s “standoffishness.”

Some administration insiders disclosed that President Buhari had become aware lately of his Chief of Staff’s excesses, and had grown disillusioned that Mr Kyari was sowing confusion in his team and even seeking to cause an embarrassing rift between him and the VP with whom he has been cordial and developed mutual trust and understanding.

Presidency sources disclosed that President Buhari’s last major announcement on Sunday, just before the reception of the Chibok girls, to the effect that he was returning to the UK for medical treatment, was done without Mr Kyari’s knowledge.

In a similar manner, Saharareporters reports based on insider information, Mr Buhari’s decision to suspend Babachir Lawal as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Ayo Oke as Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) came as a surprise to Mr Kyari, who was kept in the dark.

“That decision to suspend Mr. Lawal and Mr. Oke was President Buhari’s most dramatic demonstration of his disappointment in Abba Kyari and a few other associates to whom he has entrusted critical assignments,” said one source at the Presidency.

However, some parties at the seat of government in Abuja expressed doubt that Mr Buhari would ever regain the soundness of mind and physical fitness to dispose of Mr Kyari, who anchors a cabal at the Presidency that has dictated much of the administration’s widely criticized “northernization” policies.

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