President Muhammadu Buhari declared, yesterday, that he was not caged by any group or individuals and that he was in firm control of the presidency and the country.
The President was reacting to assertion by Col. Tony Nyiam (rtd), who in an exclusive interview with a national daily yesterday stated that President Buhari was caged by some powerful forces around him who now dictate and determine most decisions of the President, especially in the areas of political appointments.
Nyiam was quoted as saying that some of the appointments of the president were lopsided.
He said: “One of the greatest things I heard from Buhari was when he said ‘I belong to everyone, I belong to no one.’ I believe him, but I do hope he doesn’t allow some irredentists around him to prevent him from practicalizing it and not for his own ethnic nationality.
“The recent appointments we have seen so far suggest that President Buhari is being misguided and being pushed to be very partial. He has made critical appointments in three critical areas. One is the Accountant General of the Federa tion, the Director of DPR and the acting INEC chairman. These three critical appointments and of course that of the Chief of Staff are all coming from the same zone.
“There is also that of the Director General of the DSS, Daura. Not only is he a man that has been in retirement, he is directly from the president’s town. If Jonathan had done the same thing by appointing the Director of DPR and the Accountant General from the South-South, people would have raised hell.
“You must remember that the Accountant General took over from someone from the South-West, Otulana. Why couldn’t Buhari appoint a south westerner, at least as a gesture to the South-West for the support they gave him. The DPR director was an Igbo chap. I think these appointments are clearly indicative that the President has not been allowed to follow his principle that he belongs to everyone.
“President Buhari is a man I served with, he is a man who is a true Nigerian; he is a man who is a true man of God. What I am suggesting is that he appears increasingly and gradually being caged by irredentists who are going to spoil his chances of becoming the Mandela of Nigeria.
“I have said it before that the closest analogue of Mandela in Nigeria is Buhari. But it does seem to me that some elements, some irredentists with agenda will not allow Nigeria benefit from such a figure.”
But reacting to the statement, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said though individuals are entitled to their opinions, the comments credited to Nyiam were not true.
According to him, if Col. Nyiam admitted to have a vast knowledge and workings of the President in the past and also spotted his impeccability, he was in a better position to tell other people that President Buhari cannot change.
Said he: “Well, Col. Nyiam is just an individual. He is entitled to his opinion. But his opinion is not necessarily right. The fact that he said it does not mean it is true.
“I am happy that he knows the person of President Buhari deeply. If that is the case, he cannot easily admit that the man he spoke glowingly about cannot change or be influenced by anybody.
“Everyone in Nigeria knows President Buhari. He had been a Head of State and we saw how he dealt with corruption and even now, he is not relenting. As a matter of fact, he made corruption the chief issue among his campaign promises and he is dealing with that.
“Besides, he has said right from his swearing in that he belongs to no one but everyone. Why would he now change? And don’t forget that the President before he was elected, ran for the same office three times. So, would he win and then give his presidency to someone else to run for him?
“Again, the President has said he does not have northern agenda. Look, Nigerians needed change and they have got that by voting President Buhari to power. He has a national agenda because he was voted for by all Nigerians.
“So, it will be preposterous to accuse Mr. President of having pro-North agenda or that he is caged. Caged by whom? He is the President of Nigeria and should be seen and addressed as such.”