By Abdulrasaq Olaosebikan
Before then Chief of Army Staff, General Ibrahim Babangida removed then head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, some things were planned ahead of time to discredit the head of State.
One that many Nigerians will not forget in a hurry is the raid on the home and library of Chief Obafemi Awolowo in Ikenne, Ogun State. Later chronicles of Nigeria’s government and politics described some of those plots to discredit the disciplined and focused General Buhari and Idiagbon’s government as the handiwork of Fifth Columnists.
The question today is: are there Fifth Columnists in the Buhari Presidency using their inside connections to undermine the administration and threatening its credibility and legacy?
For instance why is so many official leaks taking place including this week’s leak of a stinker from the National Security Adviser, General Babagana Munguno to the Chief of Staff Abba Kyari?
Since the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari took office in 2015, Nigerians have witnessed a number of official documents purpotedly leaked from the office of the Chief of Staff to the President, Alhaji Abba Kyari. What can’t be denied is that the Chief of Staff’s office is the recurring decimal in all the leaks.
Some analysts argue that those leaks were deliberately carried out and deployed as a tactic and means of settling political scores
A simple online check found that no less than four official/classified documents have leaked from Mr Kyari’s office most of them aimed at indicting one person or another.
In 2017, the former Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Mr Emmanuel Kachikwu had written President Buhari following insubordination and illegal award of contracts at state-owned oil company, NNPC under the leadership of Dr. Maikanti Baru.
But somehow the letter found its way into the media after it was leaked by the office of the Chief of Staff. The letter which was written by Dr Kachikwu detailed how Dr Baru took wholesale decisions to make appointments and award contracts without any communication to the board which Mr Kachikwu is chairman.
Mr Kachikwu’s letter was subsequently leaked and many believe that he was not reappointed minister because of the controversy that trailed the leak of that letter. He simply was set up way ahead even though he was one of the more cerebral ministers of the first term.
But Mr Kachikwu is one of many to have suffered similar fate. In 2018, the political differences between Senator Shehu Sani and Governor Nasir El-Rufai was at an all time high and there was a lot of back and forth in the media but none topped the leaked letter by Governor El-Rufai to President Buhari.
In what appeared to be a letter of blackmail, Governor El-Rufai listed how Senator Sani was denigrating the President, his political party, APC and himself (El-Rufai). If Governor El-Rufai thought it was going to be a confidential letter, he was wrong because someone ensured that the media got a copy of it.
Fast forward to 2019 and it was Babatunde Fowler’s turn to get a dose of the medicine. After many media reports that Abba Kyari was working tirelessly to have Mr Fowler replaced as executive chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) a letter petitioning Fowler was leaked.
The letter was signed by Mr Kyari was titled: ‘RE: Budgeted FIRS Collection And Actual Collections’ sought to probe Mr Fowler’s competence and to also suggest that he had failed in his role improve revenue collection when in the real sense, Mr Fowler was breaking records for revenue collection especially non-oil revenue collection.
The leaked letter turned out to be the first attempt to ridicule Mr Fowler. Months after the leaked letter, another letter written by Mr Fowler to President Buhari making himself available for reappointment was leaked.
Mr Fowler’s letter was in line with FIRS Establishment Act of 2007. The letter which should have stayed between the sender and receiver was leaked to the media.
Mr Fowler was subsequently not reappointed by President Buhari.
The former Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita was not spared. Following the controversial reinstatement and posting of the embattled former chairman of the Pension Reforms Commission, Abdulrasheed Maina, Mrs Oyo-Ita wrote a letter to clear the air.
If she thought it was a confidential element, she was wrong because the media got wind of it. President Buhari had to summon both Mrs Oyo-Ita and Mr Kyari over the leaked memo.
Speaking on the trend, an inside source said it is worrying that confidential documents are been leaked repeatedly. “The trend is very disturbing. The office of the Chief of Staff should not be leaking confidential letters is makes Nigeria look weak globally.”
The compelling argument is that all these leaks have one thing or the other to do with office of the Chief of Staff. This is just the fact. So why is this the case? Let us pray that another Fifth Columnist is not in existence to once again rubbish the credibility and legacy of the reformer government of this day.