Critical voices are today emerging to launch one sortie or the other against President Muhammadu Buhari over the accusation that he heads a secretive cabal who are bent on holding him on the jugular. Can President Buhari be tethered to the whims and caprices including the sentiment of any Nigerian, living or dead, no matter how powerful? Can this President be remote-controlled by men-in-black who operate from the dark? Are we making wild presumption of the existence of this shadowy people? Is it right to accuse President Buhari of running a cabalocracy? Or are we, as a nation, becoming purveyors of heresies and fake news?
Would Buhari ever sell Nigerians to a band of self-serving demagogues we called cabal thereby tearing apart his over-rated integrity which, sad to say, is now in tatters? Has President Buhari turned into an ambidextrous politician who publicly advocate for inclusion and fairness in the abstract, but in practice, he is a clannish and tribal jingoist who surrounds himself with a shadowy but powerful Fulani/Daura figures we called cabal?
I must confess that we have an uphill task reclaiming the term cabal from the mythic associations it has in our imagination. Worse, writing about cabal has its own studded pitfalls – emotive generalisations, resounding clichés, imprecision and untruths. When are we going to vacate a town called Vagueville and start naming the cabal who have encircled President Buhari like baying hyenas thirsty for his blood?
Would President Buhari give room to the narrow agenda of a band of hideous rogues called cabal – the unseen enemies he has sworn to bury for the sake of change? Is it not too late in the day for the president to be arrested by a clash of convictions? Who are the cabal that have captured the President’s jugular at this critical hour of our national rejuvenation? Are we all victims of prideful presumption borne out of political expediency? Can we say that the ongoing accusation of Aso Rock cabalocracy is imagined rather than real?
The political voodoo of the time is coming home to roost today. The Igbo and Yoruba and the rest of the marginalised humanity are all carpet bombing Buhari of being controlled by unseen hands we love to call cabal in this part of the world. What is currently sharpening my dilemma is the fact that we have not been able to slay the dragon of the existence of cabal from our polity.
But President Buhari’s form of cabal is venomous, tribally-driven, controlling, powerful and they are mostly connected to his Fulani/Daura lineage. Many Nigerians including the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, have said that there is a cabal of people who influence decisions taken by President Buhari in the presidency. The men said to be members of the cabal include a relative of the president, Mamman Daura. Then another powerful associate of the president, Isa Funtua and of course the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari. Aisha Buhari has at several instances accused these dark forces of bewitching and controlling her husband.
However, I am amused at Garba Shehu’s recent dogged pretence and ability to rationalise what is real and obvious. With evocative flourishes, Shehu, the presidential spokesman on media, recently detonated some semantic sorties aimed at disarming President Buhari’s enemies who have been lobbing accusation that he is running a cabal-driven administration. What triggered his canon shot is the desire to stem the relentlessly negative portrayal of his principal as one of Nigeria’s ugliest cabal-loving leaders. He tried, through semantic firework, to alter our mental conditioning towards “cabal” by advocating that ‘kitchen cabinet’ is the appropriate word. It is on record that Aisha Buhari recently accused Shehu of receiving instructions from the cabal to the detriment of her husband and his immediate family.
What is the definition of a cabal? According to my 21st century edition of Collins English dictionary and thesaurus, a cabal is defined as a small group of intriguers especially one formed for political purposes. Again, cabal is described as a secret plot; conspiracy and a clique.
By extension a group of powerful people can form a cabal through enlightened rationalism and with the express aim of protecting vested interests be it in politics, business, sport, military, media, education, transport and even the sex trade. Pardon me if I have gone hyper cabalistic for your rational comprehension. That said, the distinctive feature of any group of cabal is the stigma of being perceived as covenanted enemies of the state. Ironically, what really fascinates the public about these gnomish creatures is their notoriety to remain invisible and wreak havoc through wrong counsel, overbearing control of the leader and the desire to remain stubbornly unrepentant.
According to Shehu: “Members of the ‘cabal’ in the presidency are not hungry individuals and do not deserve the public criticism they get… they are respectable Nigerians who deserve respect because they have achieved a lot.”
“A lot of people who are being dragged into this cabal thing, they are respectable Nigerians who have achieved a lot for themselves and for the nation. They are not there as hungry people who are there to grab things for themselves… Nigerians have formed the practice by labelling people that are in some advisable positions of the president as a cabal.
“People (cabals) should not be labelled negatively simply because they have offered themselves to support the president of this country.”
Cabal, the movie, had always been a Nigerian classic. It had always received rave reviews from both foes and friends. We love its story line. We love its dark characters. It gets us captivated, mesmerised and bewitched each time we have a government in place. The central actors come go. They left their footprints on the sand of time and melt either into oblivion or honour. The Cabal is the longest running box office blockbuster in the annals of our national history. Today, President Buhari, as the central actor, is remaking The Cabal and critics have been taking their pot-shot at his tribal audacity to ignore both Igbo and Yoruba actors in the plot.
. [email protected]. +447394267386 text messages only.