As General Muhammadu Buhari is sworn in as the nation’s president today, 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:
- 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,” the former minister of defence said.
Buhari, during his campaign, also underlined his readiness to tackle corruption head-on once he gets to power.
- Mamman Daura
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 (retd)
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.