The presidency joined some Igbo leaders who accused President Muhammadu Buhari for being teleguided by some former leaders.
Presidency fired back at the Igbo leaders under the aegis of Igbo Leaders of Thought.
The group is led by constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze.
Specifically, the Igbo Leaders of Thought faulted the Buhari administration’s prosecution of the war against corruption which it described as selective, saying government was being teleguided by Generals Ibrahim Gbadamosi Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar, both former Heads of State, as well as erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The Igbo leaders went ahead to classify the former Nigerian leaders as belonging to what they called “the invisible government of Nigeria.”
Reacting to the statement, yesterday, The Presidency said: “Whoever knows President Buhari will not say that kind of thing of him. Nobody can teleguide President Buhari as a leader because he is a listening leader. He will listen to Chief Obasanjo, he will listen to Dr Jonathan, he will listen to everybody, both high and low; and that is what a good leader should do.
“He will listen to everyone as a leader who is open to all. Nobody should lose sight of the fact that responsibility is his own and he is conscious of that. So, saying that somebody is teleguiding him cannot be the case.”
The Presidency spoke through Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity, Mallam Shehu Garba.
Speaking on the intention of government to probe corrupt practices, Garba said that though the administration was not probing anybody at the moment, his principal cannot stop the anti-graft agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, from doing their work.
The presidential aide stated that Buhari, who swore to protect the Constitution of the country, cannot turn a deaf ear to the looting of public treasury and crude oil theft.
“People who don’t know him can make those assumptions but those who know him cannot make the mistake of saying this. From his days as a candidate, he said government will not dissipate time and energy on probes. As I speak to you now, President Buhari’s government has not engaged in probes,”he said.
“Government is not probing anybody at the moment. But there are matters that he has turned on the table, going through the processes of investigations by the EFCC, ICPC; whatever, those things are, they must go on. Whatever is on the table must be treated.
“In Nigeria, if people have stolen money running into billions of US Dollars, crude oil in billions of US Dollars, the Constitution of Nigeria does not permit President Buhari to wave that off. He has no power. If the EFCC is investigating the theft of the assets of the country, the President cannot be legally and morally right to stop that from happening. So, this is what is going on”.
In a paper, dated August 7 and signed by Nwabueze on behalf of the Igbo Leaders of Thought, the group had protested the reported move by the Buhari administration to probe the immediate past Jonathan administration while leaving out the regimes preceding it. The group said: “President Buhari probing other past administrations in addition to Jonathan’s is constrained by two main factors. One, with perhaps more constraining force, is the existence of a group known as ‘the invisible government of Nigeria’, whose existence and activities with respect to governance in Nigeria are not known to many people, because it operates stealthily. Hence it is called ‘the invisible government’.
They, together with other reactionary oligarchic elements opposed to democratic rule, manipulate governmental affairs, unseen, from behind the scene. Nigeria must be one of the few democracies in the world, outside Africa, where retired military officers, with oligarchic outlook and interest, wield such great influence in government as well as in the political process after transition to democratic rule. This clearly augurs ill for democracy in the country. The country deserves to be left alone to pursue its experimentation with constitutional democracy free from the retarding influence of retired military men.
This group, whose most notable members are former Military President Ibrahim Babangida and General Abdulsalami Abubakar, both of whom are former Heads of the Federal Military Government, had declared support for Gen. Buhari in the March 2015 presidential election, as reported in the Vanguard Newspaper of Tuesday 20 January, 2015. Their rank and influence have been augmented by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, self-proclaimed father of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the progenitor of god-fatherism in Nigeria, who has now left the party after declaring and vowing that it will rule the country in perpetuity.
The constraint on President Buhari in probing the administrations of these three past rulers is near insurmountable, but it is better to admit it openly than to call such a probe a distraction or to hide under some other argument based on expediency or convenience. The other factor comes from a group of die-hard Islamists determined to impose Islamic (Sharia) system of government on Nigeria – a theocracy, such as the Caliphate and Sultanate systems and other dictatorial forms – and to whom a new beginning for Nigeria and the liberal democracy it implies is anathema. We will wait and see how President Buhari can overcome these constraints on his powers, and betray the sponsors of his election to the presidency.”