By John Shiklam
Reputed to be the head of the kitchen cabinet of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, the president’s nephew, Malam Mamman Daura, yesterday spoke on the vexed issue of zoning and rotation of the nation’s presidency, arguing that competence, not geography should determine the next president of Nigeria in 2023.
“This turn-by-turn, it was done once, it was done twice, and it was done thrice… It is better for this country to be one…it should be for the most competent and not for someone who comes from somewhere,” he told the BBC Hausa Service in an interview.
Dismissing the clamour for power shift, he said it was time for the country to unite and go for the most competent person to lead the nation.
According to him, since Nigerians have tried the rotational presidency about thrice already, it would be better to go for the most qualified candidate in 2023 irrespective of whether he comes from the North or the South.
This, he said, would be better for the nation’s unity.
He also spoke about his relationship with his uncle, saying contrary to the dominant view in the public domain, he could not possibly dictate public policy to the president.
“Yes, I do visit him to greet him; I do give him advice, but if he asked…I advise him. But I don’t go there on my own and insist I must do this or that. No. You don’t do that to the government,” he said.
Daura, an accomplished journalist and businessman, is widely believed to, along with the late presidential chief of staff, Malam Abba Kyari, have the ears of Buhari and takes the lion share of the blame for perceived missteps of the administration led by his younger uncle.
But in an interview with the foreign broadcast station, he denied teleguiding the president, explaining that while he had access, he was mindful not to take undue advantage of his relationship, pointing out that it would be inappropriate to intervene in the conduct of public affairs without the request of the president.
Daura clarified his relationship with Buhari: “My father was their mother’s firstborn. Buhari is the last born.” He said he grew up with the president and that they had always been close.
Buhari’s wife, Aisha, has been critical of Daura.
In October 2019, a video of the first lady and Fatima, one of Daura’s daughters, in a heated argument surfaced online.
The first lady claimed she was denied access to an apartment in the Presidential Villa by Daura’s family.
Fatima, however, said Aisha attacked her inside the villa.
In December 2019, the first lady also accused him of issuing a presidential directive without the knowledge of her husband.
Aisha in a statement accused Daura of issuing a directive to a presidential spokesperson, Malam Garba Shehu, not to recognise her office.
“Nigeria’s development is hinged on the ability of public officials to execute their mandates professionally, and to be shining examples in their various areas of endeavour. It is not a good sign when officials abandoned their responsibility and start clutching at straws,” the first lady had said.