The Presidency, received noises and retrieved signals


By Jimanze Ego-Alowes

Every delivery system, Wemi, an engineer tells, suffers from the dangers of loss of signals or corruption of message. Sometimes, the danger is that of noise interfering with or even drowning out the signals. Sometimes, he continued, the interferences are deliberate. The purpose here is to deceive a certain class of receivers or eavesdroppers, of the given message. However, those to whom the messages are originally addressed, are deemed to have the Enigma machines – decoding machines? – to unravel and retrieve the messages. And act as appropriate, Wemi concluded.

Wemi, was addressing a select group over the recent President Muhammadu Buhari diktat. It was that all communications to him, all attempts to hold company with him, by the ministers, must pass through designated officer/s. More details on this later. According to Wemi, Buhari’s speech is one successful attempt to encase the fineness of a signal in the din of noise. And perhaps unhinge the very elect.

Now the details. Buhari was all over himself in the news and under the wrong analytic X-rays. The prompter to the public X-ray is the Buhari commission that:

“… in terms of coordinating communication, kindly ensure that all submissions for my attention or meeting requests be channelled through the Chief of Staff while all Federal Executive Council matters be coordinated through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in order to speed up the process of decision-making.”

What was surprising is the knocks Buhari got on this. Nearly all the analysis on the matter that we have sighted, are with due respects, without much depth. It was just like people spoke because they had mouths. Below are representative samples of retorts by some of the big names in the game. The quotes are sourced from the same https: address above.

From the PDP: “By that directive, he has reduced the ministers to the clerical aides to the Chief of Staff and because of that even him, Mr President, has abdicated his responsibilities and assigned it to his Chief of  Staff.” 

From Afenifere: “That statement shows clearly that the President wants to reign as President. As a man that is reigning, he cannot be disturbed by matters of state, like ministers coming to disturb him and bringing files to him. So, he has delegated that responsibility to the de facto prime minister, the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari.”

From Ohanaeze: “This directive that ministers should reach him through his Chief of Staff has more or less confirmed this insinuation that he (Buhari) is indeed not in charge.”

First of all, let’s be adults here. A president whether in Washington or Abuja, is not open to his ministers, badgering in on him for whatever reasons, including emergencies. The rule is that you may only see the president at his election. In fact, in Washington it is impolitic to dare call a president or drop a phone on him when he calls you. So, it is the president who calls you when he needs you and who signs off the call at his discretion. And to reach the president you must petition his ”go to men” for clearance. This is the iron lore.

In other words, there is nothing strange in going through dedicated process officer/s in wanting audience etc. with the president. And for goodness sake, there has to be one clearing or centralizing room for presidential schedules and appointments. Otherwise, Aso Rock or the White House will be run as hell, a seat of chaos.

To repeat, there is nothing wrong with wanting to go through protocol hand/s to see the president. But there is everything suspicious in a president so saying and repeating himself in public. This is because seeing the presidents anywhere in the world is a matter of administrative protocols not presidential directives. And these protocols exist. Of course, those likely to be in the know of it – the ministers for instance, are so reminded etc. but administratively, never by open presidential proclamations.

So, the question is not whether ministers should be processed to see the president. The question is why was the president forced to state and demand in the open a matter that is beneath his office, a matter that is so trite, middle level bureaucrats should be handling it?

Immediately, this question is asked, the answers suggest themselves. First, the presidency is a huge bureaucracy. In other words there will be overlaps in schedules and thus there are bound to be ”territorial and civil wars.” And in such wars there are bound to be if not bloodlettings, then their often worse moral equivalents.

Two, the presidency is divided into two. There is the formal presidency. This presidency is made up of minions like the chief of staff, press secretaries etc. Then there is the informal presidency. This presidency is made up of near relations of the presidents via marriage and via blood. Sometimes, some presidential front men or deal punters, manage to worm themselves into holding free and unfettered visas unto presidential presences and lodges. Such as these become members of this informal presidency, as are the wives and other near relations of presidents aka ”The Cousins.” The example of the Guptas in South Africa is moral enough. And we may all recall, that the Guptas seized the Zuma presidency and ran it as a part of their business conglomerate. The Guptas were so embedded and powerful they decided who is to be appointed, sacked etc. at the highest levels. And the Guptas had the power to squirrel in and out whoever they willed to see Zuma. In fact, Zuma was at his presidency, a part of the Gupta Holdings in South Africa. Boy things happen. 

It is here that things get complicated. In other words, there are two channels to seeing the president, the formal via official channels, and the informal via family and embedded flunkeys and power punters, the Guptas of Aso Rock. To clear out a matter, in well run states, like America, there are no Guptas – at least over official time and events and engagements. The mixing up of the informal and the formal is a hallmark of underdevelopment and of maximal leaders. And to be fair to the facts, Buhari is proud to be a maximal leader. He says it himself. What Africa needs in his mind is a strong – that is maximal, all powerful – leader. And he perhaps fancies himself as one.

The point is that with such presidential ”maximality” comes the rise to power and prominence of intriguers, of the Guptas, and The Cousins. These constitute the members of the ”other and outer rooms” of power cabinet.

So, what happened is this. Nigeria being a state run as efficiently as hell is run, that is in pure chaos, it is given that Aso Rock is convulsed with civil wars, territorial revanchism and cross turf raids and even mortal decapitations.

Thus, it is safe to say that the ”hiring or election” of the president by one faction of the Aso Rock ”civil wars” to speechifying the directive is a war move. It is their attempt to bring into the open a war they couldn’t apparently win, conclusively, in the trenches, in the closets. And then, don’t believe it, drop a nuclear bomb. The fact that the president has spoken on a trivial administrative matter in public is the moral equivalent of a nuclear bomb against perceived insurgents. That is the war is now fully won and lost. And the Abba Kyari factions are the victors. For Kyari and troops this is their Hiroshima moment. We bombed them to thermonuclear ashes, they did be enthusing over kunu. 

But is their victory sustainable? If history is any guide, they will not win for any longer than necessary. The presidency is too big a fallen elephant to be cut to pieces by only one butcher. There must be too many long knives wanting in on the meat and the tusks. And if they miss those, they won’t miss the men preventing them. That is to say, if the winner faction thinks it all is safe on the Aso Rock front, they are in for a shock. Point is, the old rule is still eternal. Without fairness to all major powers there cannot be peace or stability in any system. So the rule is to either kill off the others and bury them or share ”peace and prosperity” with them.

To summarize, Buhari’s message in the open is not exactly his choice. In fact, the president may and need not know, he is being chanced as a pawn. Of course, the game is for him not to know. Henry Kissinger, an America power man has an insight into it. According to him, a president can be coerced or chanced to dutifully, if mindlessly, obey the quiet power of the written word or speech or agenda.

Two, the message is not really addressed to the ministers. The target audiences are the other factions of Aso Rock, the other and outer room members of the presidential power family. The rest is noise. And outsiders without insider knowledge are titillated.

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