As General Muhammadu Buhari is sworn in as the nation’s president, behind the facade of his tough mien are Nigerians (not politicians) he respects and could influence him in the direction of good governance. KUNLE SOMORIN and MUYIWA OYINLOLA take a look at some of those eminent personalities and why the President will listen to them:
President Olusegun Obasanjo
He was the man who saw it clearly that Buhari can indeed defeat Jonathan, immediately after Asiwaju Bola Tinubu made the big deal with Buhari that saw to the emergence of the APC. The new president has a lot of respect for Baba OBJ and always listens to whatever he has to say.
Gen. T.Y. Danjuma (retd)
General Danjuma will certainly be one of the most influential people around President Muhammadu Buhari. He was also one of the most influential people during Buhari’s stewardship as head of state between 1984 and 1985.
Buhari served under Gen Danjuma in the Army and they have known each other during war and peace times. Beside the fact that both of them served in the Army and retired as generals, both also abhor indiscipline and corruption.
Danjuma only recently urged the new administration to probe the outgoing administration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
“What we are hearing is that the treasury of the country is empty at the federal level. I’m calling on the new administration to investigate what happened to our monies as soon as Buhari takes over power on May 29. With that, some of the stolen funds would be recovered,” he said.
Buhari is Mamman Daura’s uncle, even though Daura is two-and-a-half years older than the new president. They are extremely close and have been since childhood.
A very serious personality, Mamman is intensely engaging, extremely intelligent and brilliant. He is a successful industrialist and was editor and later managing director of New Nigeria when the newspaper used to determine the direction of events and state policies in the country.
After the 1983 coup, he was one of the few personalities who played key advisory roles. In the late 1980s, he succeeded Ibrahim Dasuki as head of the African International Bank and also served as chairman of the board of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). He has always had Buhari’s ears.
Emir Of Borgu
His Royal Highness, Dr Halliru Dantoro, the Emir of Borgu, is another man that Buhari will defer to during his stay in power. They were neighbours in the 1980s and have been very close since then. The Emir has not hidden his interest in what happens to his friend. He once described Buhari’s second coming “as divine, to redeem and reunite the nation.”
He has pledged the total support of his people to the incoming administration.
The Emir was detained during Buhari’s military administration, but both have gone ahead to establish very strong and cherished personal relationship.
General Paul Tarfa (rtd)
Major General Paul Chabri Tarfa’s closeness to the new president dates back to their early days in the military. Both went for courses and trainings in the United Kingdom at the same period and have maintained friendship since the 1960s. At the height of the hate campaign against Buhari, Tarfa, an elder statesman and former commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), could not hide his indignation at those who accused his friend of not having certificates.
He explained that apart from their school certificates, as military cadets in the 1960s, they were made to sit for other examinations.
General Tarfa blurted out: “Buhari and I went to the United Kingdom for training. We joined the military at 18, 19 years of age. When someone went through all the trainings abroad and passed through all the military examinations in all cadres and so on, and just one cranky idiot will say you don’t have school certificate; that is absurd.”
He explained that he and Buhari shared a school principal but at different schools. “Buhari’s principal was my principal. From their school, their principal, Mr West, was sent to our school,” he said.
Prof. Tam David-West
Prof. Tam David-West, a professor of virology served as Petroleum and Energy minister under Muhammadu Buhari between 1984 and 1985. David-West has become a soul mate of the new president since fortuitous circumstances brought them to government. Their relationship remains cordial and the unifying factor is their ‘zero tolerance for corruption’.
David-West, was a major campaigner for the Buhari’s presidency. He took on everybody that attempted to throw mud at Buhari and challenged them to produce evidence about their hate campaign.
For instance, he recently rubbished the counsel by the outgoing Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on how Buhari could increase the nation’s revenue base.
David-West said Buhari is a highly experienced manager of the economy and thus, doesn’t need the advice of the former World Bank managing director.
He said: “I read Okonjo-Iweala’s advice to Gen. Buhari on how to raise revenue with interest and amusement. I don’t think that Buhari needs any advice from her on the subject. He is not new on the terrain. He is a very knowledgeable person on how to move the economy forward. I don’t believe he needs advice from Okonjo-Iweala.”
With relationship based on mutual respect and shared vision, Professor David-West is certainly a man that could open doors in the new government.
The governor of Ogun State is another man that will have a lot of influence in Buhari’s government. Since Amosun contested on the platform of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2007, both have struck a chemistry that bonds them like siblings. They have transformed from being political associates to family friends and each take the family of the other as his.
The former interim chairman of APC is a party elder Buhari honours and who has earned the President’s respect. Buhari sees the former governor of Osun State as straightforward, incorruptible and speaks the truth at all times. To Buhari, Akande is a politician who cannot be compromised on matters on which his mind has been made up. Akande is one man in the South West that is so well-respected and can call all politicians in that zone to order
General Yakubu Gowon (ftd)
Since the July 29, 1966 counter-coup when the then Major-General Murtala Muhammed marched the then Lt. Muhammadu Buhari before the then Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon, who had just been announced as the head of state, and advised Gowon to make him (Buhari) his ADC, Gowon and Buhari had been very close.
Buhari didn’t eventually serve as Gowon’s ADC as Gowon told him he was reserved for “a better assignment”.
Once, Gowon reminded Buhari of that episode in 1966, and told him that only God knew then that the three of them – himself, Murtala and Buhari – would become heads of state of Nigeria.
Buhari respects Gowon immensely, not only because he was his superior officer in the Army but because he lives a Spartan life and does not stain himself by courting every government in power for personal gain.
President Shehu Shagari
Shehu Shagari is a man after the new president’s mind. Though Buhari and his men ousted him from power, Buhari has infinite trust in Shagari. His counsel will be sought because of the former president’s vast experience and knowledge of the country, its people and the connections he has established with other countries of Africa and the world.