And He Shocks ‘Em All | Independent Newspapers Limited
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COLUMNIST, Inside the Presidency

And He Shocks ‘Em All

Posted: Sep 6, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Inside The Presidency

Unarguably, most Nigerians couldn’t pick President Muhammadu Buhari’s brains on the choice of his latest ‘key’ aides who he unfolded last week. The permutations fell short of what the best of analysts had predicted. Interestingly, not even in the Aso Rock Villa could the aides along the corridors of power decipher much from the ‘body language’ of Mr. President concerning the appointments he eventually made. In fact, it is safe to conclude that only the most trusted aides around the President – you can count them on the fingers of one hand – were in the know of what was to come; or at least read him mind correctly.

Where journalists covering the State House got it right was that the President would certainly announce his Chief of Staff and Secretary to the Government of the Federation before his 100th day in office. But they, and presidential aides couldn’t hide their surprise that the most touted names and prominent members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) did not make the presidential list of key advisers and assistants announced penultimate Thursday.
It started like any other day, until news filtered in of an imminent announcement and after the shuttling of some aides between their offices and the President’s. Soon after, two very senior presidential aides openly showed astonishment at what the appointments had turned out to be.

These two men met each other along the Villa corridor and screamed ‘na wah o!’ amidst a loud handshake that signalled their boss had done it again. Although they would not confide in others who the new appointees were until a formal announcement was made, they revealed that there was no Rotimi Amaechi or Ogbonnaya Onu on the list.

When a press statement finally came out an hour or so later with the two highest positions going to Abba Kyari as Chief of Staff to the President and Babachir David Lawal as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), the common question around the Villa was “who them be?”

While the ‘outside world’ and APC faithful were wondering why virtually all the names were of northern Nigeria origin, State House correspondents were also concerned with the profiles of the new appointees. You could write the story of two former governors, Ogbonnaya Onu and Rotimi Amaechi, on the spot without asking the audience or calling a friend; but it seemed you needed more than Google to write the story of the two new ‘kids’ on the block even when they are also former this and former that.
Well, it turned out that these two men had actually been seen on more than one occasion with the President, although in company of others. No one took more than a glance at them then. With several more appointments yet to be made by the President, all those seen around him now are given more than a passing look by journalists. They need to be put under the microscope, at least to reduce the aftershocks that may come with the next round of appointments.