By Moji Danisa
That the late Chief of Staff (CSO), Abba Kyari weilded a lot of power in Buhari’s cabinet is not debatable. That he was a very intelligent and well educated man is a fact. It is also now known that he was a disciplined workaholic who hardly rested and plunged all his energy into his job as one of the president’s loyal men.
This may have been the reason why the president trusted him with much more responsibilities beyond his brief as Chief of Staff and why political watchers pushed the narrative of an Aso Rock Cabal to the public.
It is noteworthy that not only did Nigerians believe Abba Kyari was the head of the cabal but the president’s wife, Aisha Buhari, who, in one of her outings, also told her audience that there was actually a cabal and that two men had wrestled power from her husband, the president, seemed to push the same narrative. To her credit, the First Lady did not mention names but Nigerians jumped to the conclusion that she was referring to Mamman Daura and Abba Kyari.
That Mallam Abba Kyari was the one to see if anybody wanted anything from the government is now for the history books to decide.
However, keen watchers of the government have observed that since Kyari passed on, President Muhammadu Buhari has changed in many ways and seems a different man from the laid back president the people knew before.
Here are five of the most visible changes I have noticed in the past two weeks.
1. Buhari is shifting towards Popularism
The president has been more forth coming about issues affecting the common people as was noticed in his last speech to the people on COVID-19.
His speech was humane, not forceful, appealed to the senses and not threatening.
He said he had listened to advice of the Preaidential Task Force to ease the lockdown and ADVICED the people to adhere to safety rules of wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing. He praised health workers for their sacrifice and Nigerians for adherring to the lockdown despite the sufferings.
He actually delegated the handling of the outbreak to state governors given that every state has its own unique approach to the pandemic, among others. The president seemed to provide a calming balm to the people’s sufferings, fear and panic.
That speech was rated by experts as one of the best the president had made in his entire five years in government because it was populist and democratic.
2. Humane Approach to Governance
The president in the past two weeks has made some laudable humane moves and pronouncements.
He ordered that prisoners be freed to decongest the country’s prisons, he also unchatacteristically ordered for quick investigation, arrest and prosecution of the killers of the three University of Port Harcourt students who were brutally murdered and buried in a shallow grave. The alleged fiends have since been arrested and paraded. Buhari before now, may not have been aware of such a horrendous crime.
3. Tax Waivers and Petrol Price
Buhari did not neglect the health sector and the suffering masses.
He has instituted tax waivers on medical supplies and has again dipped petrol price.
Petrol depot price has been slashed to N108 which experts say will evidently affect the retail pump price.
4. Buhari Snubbed Ganduje
The Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, had largely been accused of neglect in tackling the COVID-19 outbreak in his state. The governor initially refused to accept that the large number of deaths witnessed in Kano in the last two weeks, were COVID-19 related. He instead alluded that they were ‘strange deaths’. When it however dawned on him that there was an uncontained outbreak in Kano, first thing he asked for was a N15bn intervention from the federal government.
Ganduje would realize that it was no longer business as usual as Buhari promptly turned him down and placed a total lock down on Kano.
5. President Buhari has not traveled anywhere
The president has not travelled since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and seems healthy.
He has been active enough to personally address the problems confronting the nation at such a trying time.
What this portends for Nigeria is that the president may stay back and fix Nigeria’s health sector now that he is ‘fully in charge.’ The common phrase: “Buhari is not aware” may be a thing of the past, given the new precedence.