By Brian Moyo
THE saying: Behind every successful man there is a woman, rings true for President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria whose wife has warned she may not back him at the next election unless he shakes up his government.
Apparently Mrs Aisha Buhari isn’t happy that the president “does not know” most of the top officials he has “appointed.”
In an interview with the BBC Mrs Buhari said: “The president does not know 45 out of 50, for example, of the people he appointed and I don’t know them either, despite being his wife of 27 years.”
It’s hard enough for the president of any country to keep his officials under a firm leash. But if, as Mrs Buhari suggests, her husband doesn’t know most officials appointed under his authority, let alone what they get up to, then she is entitled to suspect the Nigerian government has been hijacked by a “few people” behind presidential appointments.
Given that Buhari was elected last year with a promise to tackle corruption and nepotism in government, most right thinking people would applaud Mrs Buhari’s wisdom to steer her man in the direction of his promises. This is where the saying: Behind every successful man there is a woman, earns its wings or spurs if you like horses.
There is no prize for guessing what Mr Buhari has said or will say to Mrs Buhari in the privacy of their home. But her decision to go public with her concerns will no doubt send shock waves in the corridors of Nigeria’s political circles and may even be interpreted by some of her husband’s political acquaintances as a weakness.
Heard the story about old King Lion who laughed in front of his subjects and inadvertently exposed his toothless gums? He was not feared or held with the same reverence after that incident.
Wisely, Mrs Buhari didn’t name the culprits who have allegedly hijacked her other half’s government. She merely said: “You will know them if you watch television.”
The plot thickens further though if you try to make sense of her next remark: “Some people are sitting down in their homes folding their arms only for them to be called to come and head an agency or a ministerial position.”
One wonders who calls these people and has the power to gift them ministerial positions at the drop of a hat. If Mrs Buhari’s displeasure about unorthodox practices in her husband’s government is valid, it seems reasonable to assume that the virtual persons who authorise the “ghost” appointments have a hidden agenda for doing so without the president’s approval.
Perhaps brown envelopes are dropped into their laps, instead of the proverbial hat?
Far from advocating a Spanish Inquisition type of Inquiry with president Buhari sitting in his seat of power and asking every government official kneeling before him to state his name, age, salary, mentor, qualification and role in government, I suspect Mrs Buhari only wants to alert him to the fact that that government gatekeepers have a tendency to allocate themselves powers beyond those stated in their job descriptions.
You only have to watch the iconic “Yes Minister” British sitcom to get a sense of how gatekeepers can manipulate situations as well as their bosses.
No doubt Mrs Buhari’s assertion that her husband had not told her whether he would contest the 2019 election will put ideas in the minds of some young Turks within Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) party.
Some might see it as an opportunity to start flexing their muscles, host exclusive barbecues for a dry run presidential campaign and even draft one or two inaugural presidential speeches, just in case!
But perhaps all presidential hopefuls should also consult the wives behind them before taking that leap of faith. The lady of the house might just turn out to be a fountain of knowledge and a good judge of character, especially with regard to the type of gatekeepers a president should keep by his side.