SGF & COS; Conflict of Human Elements and its Impact on the Performance of the President.
By Bolaji O Akinyemi.
The office of the Chief of Staff was an invention of President Olusegun Obasanjo, patterned after the American model. The duties of the office are assigned by its Principal. Primarily it is meant to focus on managing the flow of information and people; serving as adviser to the president on various issues. Through these roles, the position wields considerable influence!
It may become the most powerful office after that of the President depending on two basic factors, the relationship of the occupier with the President and his interest in the game of power!
Nothing much of a conflict was noticed between the two offices until Buhari became the President and Abba Kyari his Chief of Staff and Engr Babachir David Lawal, the SGF.
Silent as this conflict may be, its subtlety was revealed, of the voice lent to it by Garba Shehu on Buhari’s second term!
He said; “It is worth STRESSING that the role and responsibilities of the Chief of Staff and the method of communication and arranging scheduling between cabinet members and the President are, in Nigeria based on the US model, where the same system operates – and is done for decades – in precisely the same way”. Shehu on the exigencies of resolution at that time, said, “the role of the Chief of Staff will remain the same”!
While the hands of the office of the Chief of Staff to the President may be hidden in the grass cutter episode that eventually saw Engr Babachir Lawal out of the office of the SGF, it is not impossible that the string was pulled by whoever did on behalf of the Chief of Staff whose person became the direct beneficiary of some of the duties and influence of the SGF! This loss of balance accounts for the ruin of Buhari Presidency more than any other thing! The unfortunate death of Kyari and the vacuum created his exit and complicated the consequences of the existing conflict of the offices because the space became the inheritance of the cabal and brought people like Sabiu “Tunde” to undue prominence!
Though Babachir Lawal was eventually absolved by the judiciary of all accusations; the deed was done!
While Gambari succeeded Kyari, Mustapha did Lawal, the duo made the best of their opportunities in view of the invasion of the cabals of the space!
What we ended with, after eight (8) years of Buhari was not just his failure, but of the office of the COS and the institution; OSGF!
The former lost the management of the President to the cabals, in Tunde and the later, the coordination of governance to the same force through the overbearing influence of the unofficial “chairman” of the cabal on the instruments of governance in Mamman Daura!
It is unfortunate that Tinubu’s Presidency is looking like it is coming under the mercy of the two offices! The onus is on Akume and Gbajabiamila to put the nation before personal interests to rewrite our past and position this government to serve the people!
How they hope to do this in view of their perceptions and that of the Administration they are serving in the eyes of ordinary Nigerians is left to their wisdom!
About 42 agencies and parastatal are directly under the supervision of the office of SGF. These directly help the government in the daily running of varying and specific oversight and administrative functions! These agencies and parastatal are all important but of interest is the National Identity Management Commission, that Akume must lead to answer the unanswered question of the NBA; who is a Nigerian? Without which the issuance of National Identity Card will remain a scam!
Our desire for revolution in the provisions of clean energy will remain a mirage except the SGF will find a way to break the lock and chains holding the gateway to development through the holding down of the National Atomic Energy Commission!
Our position as the giant of Africa should not be limited to fighting other countries’ battles as the present call to Niger suggests.
NEPAD! New Partnership for African Development should be activated to serve our trade and investment interest as a country. What did our soldiers die for in Sierra-Leone? Since our 1st involvement in the Congo in 1960 we have grown to become a reliable ally in peace keeping around the world. Akume must lead us to count our teeth with our tongues. Aside the loss of Personnel and equipment, we spent $8 billion on our intervention in Liberia alone during their civil war! What is our gain from Liberia?
There should be something worth fighting for in our subregional interventions! Global or regional interest shouldn’t be motivation for our army to lace their boots and head for Niger! What is in it for us as a country?
NAPEP, National Poverty Eradication Programme should naturally come handy at a time we are facing unprecedented poverty spread occasioned by past mismanagement of resources and compounded by the unpopular decision of Tinubu Administration’s removal of subsidy. What is the demography of the poor of the poorest in this country? What is the percentage of urban poverty in comparison to rural poverty? What are the structures of reaching both demographies! What are the design programme of lifting the poor and eradicating poverty?
I will not fail to mention National Commission for Refugees, the field from which grass cutting got Lawal into trouble, an Agency that failed to build the goodwill it was offered and sustain partnership with Project Victory Call Initiative on Nigeria!
The role of the Chief of Staff is to act as the head of the Presidential administration at Aso Rock, to be an Adviser to the President on ANY AND ALL MATTERs; to be the line manager for all staff and to manage appointments and scheduling for the President. Against this background; he is working with the President for Nigeria, while the SGF is working for Nigerians with the President. The understanding in their roles is key to avoid conflicts and define what public expectations should be of them.
Both are expected to be loyal to the President, but the line of duties of the SGF is to monitor, and coordinate the implementations of Government Policies and Programmes and serve as front line advisory INSTITUTION of the Presidency; drive policy formulation, harmonization and implementation and monitor instruments of governance, demand loyalty to the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria and consequently, the people of the Republic!
This without doubt puts the office and the officer in a very delicate situation. The need to manage standing on this cliff is the reason for which I write!
Expediency to duties may save the SGF from many a temptation.
While Gbajabiamila as the COS is an adviser of the President, the SGF as a person is not, but the INSTITUTION of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation is an advisory institution! Meaning possible threat to the SGF by the interpersonal relationships between the COS and the President will dissolve if the SGF maintain institutional and not personal approach towards his duties!
A Yoruba adage says; “ti eniyan ba pe lori imi, esin ke sin a ba nibe” when you stay too long on your poo, strange flies will meet you there!
The reality is; Akume is pitched against Tinubu’s man in Gbajabiamila! Caution is the rule of the game. Self interest must be subsumed for national interest! Nation Building must take precedence over self aggrandizement.
Akume must be expeditious to duties. Appointments must be based on merit and should be timely delivered. The result of the tests of the candidates for the office of the Chief Medical Director of Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital for example should be made public by the Institution of the Office of the SGF while leaving the decision on who to appoint to the President!
If it pleases the President to appoint the candidate who came fourth in the test against candidates with 1st and 2nd position, then such report will become the witness of the Institution of the Office of the SGF when posterity comes calling!
The silence on the appointment of EFCC Chairman could only mean two things; this government is either looking for an undertaker who will help them bury their past in EFCC custody or a pathologist who will help it carry out investigations as of the extent of corruption causing institutional death that if not addressed, will ultimately kill the country. Which are they looking for? Let me end with a quote from a leader who sounded like one who knows what to do but ended up doing nothing; “if Nigeria doesn’t kill corruption; corruption will kill Nigeria!
Watch out for EFCC Chairman; Pathologist or Undertaker.
Dr Bolaji O. Akinyemi is an Apostle and Nation Builder, Convener Apostolic Round Table, ART. Also the BOT Chairman Project Victory Call Initiative, AKA, PVC-Naija.