One humid afternoon in the nation’s number one address, a septuagenarian strode briskly past Aso Villa security, acknowledges little by way of pleasantries from presidential staffers and the press corps, saunters into the presidential villa to have audience with president Muhammadu Buhari; a stationery bag on his sling; and emerges some two hours later, his demeanor giving very little away.
Not a hair out of place, business-like and not hampered by presidential security and protocol. As scruple-less as you’d like. Probably the only man with the keys to the villa when the entire nation has retired to bed.
He is the president Nigerians didn’t vote for. The one who calls the shots in Nigeria’s presidential palace. He is Buhari’s uncle and confidant Mamman Daura.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has the moral high ground going for him, no doubt, but his major if not only weakness is the control his uncle and close confidant, Mamman Daura wields over him. Mamman Daura may not be known to a lot of people, but he is today by far the most powerful person in Nigeria”, one highly placed presidency official told Ekekeee in an upscale diner in the nation’s capital.
Daura is two years older than Nigeria’s president, he was an editor of the New Nigeria Newspaper (NNN), served briefly on the Oputa panel which was charged with investigating human rights abuses committed during the military era and also succeeded his relative Ibrahim Dasuki as head of the African International Bank. He was also at some point chairman of the board of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).
One villa source however knows Daura differently. “He is basically a bankrupt industrialist, smooth operator and an avid lover of cricket and hockey. It’s also interesting that he is not a card carrying member of any political party. He’s as sly as they come.
“This man and a very few select friends have been constantly and consistently in control of most of the behind the scene manoeuvres in and around the world of Buhari before, during, and after he was sworn in as a democratic president. And if care is not taken, forever”, offered the villa source with a tinge of resignation.
A few villa sources spoken to for this story told of how Daura heads what is now known as the ‘Daura mafia’ in the presidency. Daura is the name of president Muhammadu Buhari’s hometown; marooned in the Katsina parch-land.
“He basically decides who gets a federal appointment and who doesn’t. He’s presently holding onto hundreds of would-be board appointees even though the president has given the go-ahead that the names be made public. Daura won’t budge until such a time when he deems it fit for the president’s chief of staff or secretary to the government of the federation to have them”.
Villa sources point to a host of some of Buhari’s appointees as the handiwork of the head of the Daura mafia.
“One of the earliest appointments made by Buhari is that of Ahmed Kuru to head AMCON. Kuru was groomed in the former Habib Bank, formerly partly owned by Mallam Musa Bello, a member of the inner caucus of the Mamman Daura led Mafia. Kuru, a reputable banker was appointed to ease the strangulation suffered by Mamman Daura and his friends regarding most of their bankrupt businesses mostly situated in Kakuri industrial estate in Kaduna.
“Mamman Daura handpicked Abba Kyari, one of his lackeys, to become the president’s chief of staff.
“Aisha Abubakar was nominated into the Buhari cabinet from Sokoto state by Daura. Muhammad Bello, one time ministerial nominee from Adamawa, is the first son of Musa Bello of the defunct Habib Bank–a member of the Daura mafia.
“Zainab Shamsuna Ahmad, one time ministerial nominee from Kaduna, is the daughter of Late Yahaya Hamza, Elrufai’s Foster father who died a few months ago. She owes her position to Daura.
“Sulaiman Adamu, one time ministerial nominee from Jigawa State is not only the younger brother of Amina Zakari of INEC but also a nephew of Buhari and by extension, a blood relation of Mamman Daura.
“Adamu Adamu, nominee from Bauchi and now Nigeria’s education minister, was groomed by Mamman Daura at the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) and NNN”.
Another Villa source added: “Isn’t it simply amazing how the following all worked as consultants at the AfriProjectsConsortium (Sole mega consultants to the defunct PTF) floated by Dr. Mahmud Tukur, Mamman Daura’s business partner for over 40yrs? Amina Zakari (INEC), Sulaiman Adamu (Jigawa nominee), Amina Mohammed (Gombe Nominee)”.
Our sources also lamented that all major executive decisions almost, always go through Daura. He’s described as the man with the president’s ears, the one man Buhari considers infallible.
“If this country has to make progress and if Buhari intends to change Nigeria like he’s promised, he’s got to wean himself of Mamman Daura and his ilk. Almost everyone in the villa defers to him because of the enormous influence he wields on Buhari. You don’t want to be running a country by proxy”, one source said.