Ambassador Babagana Kingibe is a Nigerian veteran politician who could be said to belong eminently to the gerontocratic generation. They have been pampered and fed for decades with little or no commensurate productive contribution to the national developmental aspiration. You can call them power parasites and you may not be wrong. You can prefer to label them political leeches and you may quite be in order. This generation of entrenched old politicians have become stupendously rich more by networking and connections in high places than any dint of hardwork. They disappear and re-appear on the national stage depending on the political situation (favourable or otherwise). They know their ‘friends’ and are also aware of their ‘enemies’. When an ‘enemy’ appears they disappear only to appear again when that perceived enemy is no more calling the shots with a ‘friend’ in power at the apex.
Discerning Nigerians knew all along that a cabal existed in the Villa since President Buhari took residence there two years ago. But it took a dramatic interview the First Lady, Aisha, granted the BBC (Hausa service) last year for the issue to be brought to international attention. Her courageous revelation sparked national controversy with the President himself not helping matters when he declared then in far away Germany that the place of his wife was in the kitchen and the other room! At the time the First Lady made that comment denouncing the cabal manipulating things in the Villa we had thought she was was referring to the mercurial Mamman Daura, a man without any official portfolio but more powerful than an average Minister.
But now that we know that Kingibe is an eminent member of this cabal it is deducible that she could have been referring to him as well. Aisha had raised an alarm over the nefarious activities of these men at the seat of power even threatening withdrawing her support for her husband’s re-election bid in 2019 should the cabal be allowed a free hand to prosper at the expense of Nigeria and Nigerians. We had enough reason to commend her for coming out in such brutal manner never before seen in our polity.
Despite the public angst over the matter the cabal is said to have entrenched themselves deeper into the system — manipulating and maneuvering. In the absence of the President (still marooned in a London hospital responding to treatment) the cabal have refused to allow the Acting President to do the job he was assigned to do constitutionally. Recently, according to SR, they congregated in London and had a secret meeting where strategies were mapped out to continue undermining the positive efforts of Acting President Osinbajo or creating a constitutional crisis where none existed.
SaharaReporters, the New York-based whistle-blowing website, had revealed the methods and tactics of this cabal naming names. According to SR members of the cabal controlling events around the President included the Director-General of the Directorate of State Security (DSS), Lawal Daura, Buhari’s powerful nephew, Mamman Daura, his Personal Secretary, Tunde “Idiagbon” Sabiu, a businessman, Isa Funtua, Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, and Babagana Kingibe, a former Secretary to the Government who was the running mate to Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
When I read that investigative report the name that somehow rang a bell in my head was no other than that of Babagana Kingibe. Kingibe came to national prominence as the Chairman of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP). When the late Bashorun Abiola won the nomination of the party for the ill-fated June 12 1993 presidential election he went against the run of play by picking Kingibe as his running mate –a muslim/muslim ticket that swept the poll! Kingibe in the midst of the battle to de-annul the outcome of the election and reclaim the stolen mandate, however, had thrown in the towel moving to other preoccupation.
The existence of a presidential cabal is not a new thing or innovation in the Nigerian nasty politics. During the Olusegun Obasanjo’s imperial presidency spanning eight giddy years there was no visible cabal competing for power or influence under ‘Baba’. There were some powerful and influential figures of course but the retired soldier never permitted anyone to dictate the pace of governance. After his reluctant exit (with the failure of third term gambit in mind) came the late Umaru Yar’Adua whom he foisted on the nation despite the terminal ailment ravaging the man from Katsina. Yar’Adua’s health challenge gave room for retrogressive forces to emerge and exert certain influence. Turai, his wife, was leading the cabal that sought to hijack power prior to the emergence of Goodluck Jonathan as President.
When the beneficiary of the novel “doctrine of necessity” came on board his government was brimming with cabals within and without. You had the detained ex-NSA Sambo Dasuki in charge of the security angle. He embezzled billions of Dollars for which he is still standing trial today! And on the domestic wing the Dame, Patience, was in her obtrusive best element competing fiercely with the fugitive Diezani Allison-Madueke, former Petroleum Minister, for the President’s ears (and even for his libido!). They both cornered millions of Dollars in the connubial scramble for petro-dollars! When you add the notorious Niger Delta militants to the mix then there should not be any confusion as to why GEJ failed spectacularly as President.
Kingibe is an experienced politician who is as taciturn and discreet as he is diplomatic. He is less controversial and commands considerable respect among his peers. He is reported to be standing in for the COS whenever the latter goes abroad for his medical needs. While one does not know the nature of his relationship with Buhari his political pedigree could ordinarily be seen as more of an asset than a liability. However, we hold that his membership of the notorious Aso Rock cabal has somewhat diminished his status if not destroyed his reputation thus throwing up agitated questions about his June 12 volte-face nay, betrayal.
One then wonders how and why Kingibe who unceremoniously and cowardly renounced a popular mandate freely given to them in 1993 should now be linked to a scheme that seeks coveting power? Or should we take it that because his Moslem ‘brother’ is there now against the backdrop of the late Abiola being a Yoruba from the south-west the right ‘price’ has been dangled before him? And that the rogue kleptocratic General (IBB) that annulled Hope ’93 infamously was himself from the northern descent hence the present power rapprochement? What led the Borno-born septuagenarian political ‘dealer’ to betray the democratic cause and join back the oppressors then?
From all indications the Aso Rock cabal is both desperate and dangerous. The main objective seems to be to command and control. But it goes beyond that. They take maximum advantage of the presidential malaise for their pecuniary fantasies. Abba Kyari is ambitious and he is obviously happy with the status quo at the presidency and wishes for it to last as long as possible. But Buhari will soon bounce back to sound health if the good tidings brought home from London by the First Lady could be relied upon or serve as an indication.
Today, President Buhari is indisposed yet the northern cabal are making things more difficult for him. They pretend to ‘love’ him more than the rest of us but we know they are just ‘hustling’ for their lucre interest. When the President finally returns home he must look inwards and try to impose order. For us, Abba Kyari has since overstayed his welcome and outlived his usefulness in the Villa! The Oke/Babashir treatment is what he deserves in our reckoning.