By Chinedu Okpara
If nothing else buttressed the omnipotent powers and vicelike grip of Mamman Daura, the nephew of President Muhammadu Buhari, on the presidency and the president himself, his daughter, Fatima’s brazen and embarrassing face-off with Aisha, the wife of the president, as contained in a viral video, is the ultimate coup de grace.
At the height of speculations that the president was getting a new wife rumoured to be Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, a video emerged of a raging woman inside an expansive room complaining, in an admixture of English and Hausa, of how an apartment was under lock and key in spite of the hordes of security personnel in the villa, and distinctly saying, “Enough is enough.” The video would later be revealed to have been in circulation since 2017.
In an interview with the BBC Hausa on her return from the United Kingdom where she had been for over three months, Mrs Buhari said, “I was the one in that video and this person you see standing at my back are my security personnel.” She continued, “It was Fatima, the daughter of Mamman Daura that shot the video in front of my security and everybody there. She was actually recording the whole thing right in front of me and was laughing and mocking me. They did that because my husband sacked them from the house. He told them to get all their belongings and leave the house for my son (Yusuf) to occupy. I left them and wanted to get to one of the rooms but they prevented me from getting through. I left them and took another way yet, I met the store locked.”
In a separate interview, Fatima, who admitted to recording the video, traced the relationship between her father and the president to when they were very young, how the president allocated the Glass House to them– a place originally meant for the children of a sitting president – and described the First Lady as abrasive and violent. Fatima said that when Yusuf, the first son of the president, had an accident and returned from Germany, the president asked that the Dauras vacated the Glass House for another apartment within the villa so he could convalesce. However, she said that Mrs Buhari did not wait for the time given by the president for them to vacate before she stormed the Glass House to forcefully eject them. “I recorded it to show our parents and the security so that they will know the truth should anything happen because the way she was raging and shouting, I thought that she would pick something and hit us with it or something like that. That was why we recorded it. Had it been we wanted to release the video, we would have done it earlier. But you know if a video clip enters one or two hands, you can’t control where it will get to,” she said.
What Fatima didn’t say was that long before Yusuf’s accident, Mrs Buhari had requested in writing for the Dauras to vacate the building which is officially designated for the biological children of any serving president. The IG of Police, DG DSS and the NSA were all notified of this request. Despite this, the Dauras deliberately refused to comply with the instructions of the security agencies.
Before that 2017 incident, the wife of the president never hid her disdain for some of the people around her husband. In 2016, she famously took a swipe at the cabal which she said had hijacked the presidency from Buhari, saying, “The president does not know 45 out of 50, for example, of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either despite being his wife for 27 years. Some people are sitting down at their homes folding their arms only for them to be called to come and head an agency or ministerial position.” This was in apparent reference, according to those who should know, to Mamman Daura, Abba Kyari, Lawal Daura and Isa Funtua.
If there is anyone Buhari always listened to and confided in over the years, it is Daura. This is a relationship that predated Aisha’s wedding to Buhari in 1989. Daura runs what is called the ‘Daura Mafia’ within the Buhari presidency and incidentally shares his last name with Buhari’s home town in the parched lands of Katsina.
When Buhari overthrew Shagari in 1983, Daura was one of the few people he trusted enough to give principal advisory roles. He later succeeded Ibrahim Dasuki as the head of the African International Bank and went on to serve as chairman of the board of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). Lawal Idris, an ally of Buhari for over 45years, once declared in a chat with Daily Trust that Daura controls the presidency; adding, “As long as Buhari cannot get Mamman away from his side, his problem will continue. Firstly, Mamman is a sadist and has no respect for anybody, not even Buhari. The problem is that the godfather never sleeps, which is Mamman Daura.”
Similarly, Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff, though an associate, never openly identified with Buhari’s aspirations on the three times he first contested for the presidency before luck smiled on him in 2015. In fact, throughout electioneering, Kyari played virtually no role. Yet, he currently holds the most powerful position in the government, a fact that is further lent credence with the pronouncement recently by the president that any minister that wants to see him must go through Kyari. Kyari was brought into the presidency by Daura. But it is not only this septuagenarian Daura that controls the levers of power in the presidency. There’s a younger Daura in the scheme of things.
Appointed as the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS) in 2015 when Buhari was inaugurated as Nigeria’s president, Lawal Daura has a chummy relationship with Buhari as he often joins him for the Friday Jumat services inside the mosque close to the President’s office. He was born in Daura as Buhari. He was brought out of retirement to be appointed as the successor of Ita Ekpeyong as DSS DG in 2015. He was, however, sacked last year due to the invasion of the National Assembly by DSS operatives who prevented the lawmakers from gaining access into the premises. Daura may have been sacked but he still wields considerable power in the security architecture of the presidency. Now, there is a groundswell of rumours that he may be prepping to return as DG of the DSS as he has lately been sighted at the M16 in the UK and other international security agencies on behalf of Nigeria.
On June 24th, 2019, an unusual political activity took place in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. A public demonstration staged by the APC Concerned Nation Stakeholders led by one Dr Symeon Chilagorom who proclaimed that they were protesting against internal forces pulling down the administration of President Buhari. Chilagorom specifically identified Daura, Samaila Isa Funtua and Kyari as members of the group that is pulling down the administration. In his words, “the people of this country elected Muhammadu Buhari as their President, not Mamman Daura, Samaila Isa Funtua and Mall Abba Kyari.” The demonstration was widely reported in the media.
Like Mamman Daura, Funtua has no official designation in this government. Yet, he reportedly calls the shots as far as appointments of board members into most federal parastatal are concerned. He is reputed to be the ‘go-to man’ for the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria while many of the multinational deals brokered with the Federal Government were said to have passed through him. Funtua has earned the sobriquet of the money-man of the administration. Unconfirmed reports recently linked him to the acquisition of a huge amount of shares of defunct Etisalat and Keystone Bank.
These are the people Mrs Buhari has been waging a war with privately and publicly. Even though she did not explicitly say what she was doing in the UK for that long, feelers are that she took a break from the whole drama as she prepares to break the hold of the cabal on her husband and Nigeria as a whole. And, it is a mission that the generality of Nigerians seem to be battle-ready to help her win especially with the revelation of the disrespect meted out to her by Fatima.
Chinedu Okpara is an Owerri, Imo State based Public Affairs Analyst.