EXCLUSIVE | Trouble In Buhari’s Cabinet As Fayemi Attacks Onyeama In Kigali

The power tussle among ministers in the cabinet of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari assumed a new dimension with Minister of Solid Minerals, Dr. Kayode Fayemi openly denigrating Geoffery Onyeama, his colleague in the Foreign Affairs ministry at the just concluded African Union summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

A top diplomatic source informed about the development disclosed the ugly incident in Kigali to SIGNAL on Tuesday. According to the official who did not want to be named, Fayemi arrived Kigali shortly after Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo touched down in the Rwandan capital on Friday to represent his boss, President Buhari at the AU summit.

Nigeria's Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (center) arriving Kigali, Rwanda last Friday for the AU summit. He is flanked by Onyeama (right)

Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (center) arriving Kigali, Rwanda last Friday for the AU summit. He is flanked by Onyeama (right)

Upon his arrival in Kigali, Fayemi in a chitchat with some diplomats from other African countries threw caution to the wind, casually labeling his colleague, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama as weak and incapable of effectively discharging his responsibility as Foreign Affairs minister. According to the source, Fayemi cited his presence in Kigali at the instance of President Buhari as evidence that President Buhari does not believe fully in the capacity of Onyeama to direct affairs at the foreign ministry.

“It was baffling because it was such an undiplomatic comment and an unexpected one. I don’t know what he was thinking when he made the comment, perhaps he thought he was making a casual assertion or even cracking a joke. But it was really shocking. He even went as far as saying boastfully that he came to Kigali in a separate jet made available by President Buhari for his use. He went on and on about how Geoffery was incapable of managing foreign affairs and that’s why Buhari sent him to assist the diplomatic team from Nigeria. We just listened to him as he went on and on. I guess there’s a lot going on in your country that we don’t know about but those comments were uncalled for”, the source said.

Dashed expectations

Prior to the time President Buhari named his cabinet, Fayemi was the media’s favorite for the position of Foreign Affairs minister. The media had touted his credentials as a former governor and his supposed wide diplomatic contacts backed with a doctorate degree in War Studies from the University of London, England.

Unknowingly to many, the eventual appointee for the post of Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffery Onyeama was equally a heavy weight in terms of education, exposure and global contacts. Onyeama holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Political Science from Columbia University, New York in 1977 and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Law from St. John’s College, Cambridge in 1980. He bagged a Masters of Law (LL.M) from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1982 and a Masters of Arts (MA) in Law from St. John’s College, Cambridge in 1984. His career has spanned development and external relations across Africa and Western Asia and he is said to be gifted with the fluent proficiency of several international languages including French.

Nigeria's Foreign Affairs Minsiter, Geoffery Onyeama looks on as US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks at the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission in Washington

Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minsiter, Geoffery Onyeama looks on as US Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks at the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission in Washington

Informed sources told SIGNAL Fayemi received his appointment to the Solid Minerals ministry with shock and disappointment as he was hoping to be named Foreign Affairs minister. Ever since the appointment, Fayemi is said to have continually nursed a secret ambition to forge his way through to the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi; with the American Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle; during a meeting with the minister in Abuja…

Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi; with the American Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. James Entwistle; during a meeting with the minister in Abuja…

SIGNAL could not reach Fayemi for comments at the time of filing this report.

A disturbing pattern

If Fayemi’s outburst in Kigali is anything to go by, it would mark the unfolding of another ugly incident in Buhari’s cabinet where ministers are tearing at each other’s throats in public over a power game of superiority, positioning and control.

Recall that SIGNAL had exclusively reported news of a power tussle between the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika. Both ministers had actually come close to exchanging blows but for the timely intervention of aides and ministry staff.

Similarly, hell broke loose in the Nigerian media when Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu openly disagreed with the Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi at a public town hall meeting in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State over the establishment of a Nigerian Maritime University, proposed for Okerenkoko in Delta State.

A government divided against itself 

In what has become consistent with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), observers worry that the spate of infighting within the ranks of the party and President Buhari’s government could be leading the nation to a path of unprecedented political turmoil.

For months, the Buhari presidency has been locked in a battle with the Nigerian Senate with claims that top officials of the Buhari administration are behind the ongoing trial of Nigeria’s Senate President Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).

As if the CCT trial was not enough, Saraki and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu were recently charged to court by the Nigerian government over allegations of forgery of Senate rules which led to the emergence of Saraki and Ekweremadu as Senate President and deputy Senate President respectively.

In a statement he personally signed, Saraki described the move by the Executive branch of government as a violation of the principles of separation of powers and a misguided adventure. Saraki said he was prepared to go to jail if that is what it takes to defy the desecration of the institution of the Nigerian Senate and preserve the sanctity of the Senate. He noted that the wheel of the Buhari administration had been hijacked by a “government within a government.” In a counter response, the Presidency attacked Saraki, describing his “government within a government” allegation as “not even worth the paper on which it was written, as anybody can wake from a troubled sleep, and say anything.”

Reacting to the affront on the leadership of the Senate, the Nigerian Senate summoned the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami SAN for explanations. Malami refused to show up at the Senate maintaining that the Senate did not appoint him and therefore lacks the jurisdiction to summon him.

Infuriated by the minister’s recklessness, the Senate is reported to have commenced conversations on impeachment proceedings against President Buhari.

Dino Melaye vs Remi Tinubu

In the midst of the ongoing brouhaha between the upper chamber of the National Assembly and the Executive, top members of the ruling party in the Senate have been embroiled in a war of words with threats of “severe beatings” and “impregnation” dished out copiously.

According to reports, the Nigerian Senate was thrown into chaos last week Tuesday with some members threatening President Muhammad Buhari with impeachment, and Dino Melaye, the APC Senator representing Kogi West senatorial district threatening to beat up a fellow senator, Remi Tinubu, the APC Senator representing Lagos Central senatorial district and wife of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC). “I will beat you up on this floor and nothing will happen,” Melaye reportedly threatened Tinubu.

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in his reaction to the development described Melaye as “a disgrace to the Senate of the Republic.”

“And if Dino thinks nothing will happen if he dare beats up another Senator, then he must be living in a fools paradise. Things will happen”, he added.

Acting IGP Idris vs former IGP Arase

The wind of restiveness rocking the political wing of the Buhari government filtered into the security department of the Buhari administration with the acting Inspector-General of Police trading words with his predecessor, the immediate past Inspector-General of Police Solomon Arase over a case of twenty-four juicy vehicles allegedly stolen by the former IGP.

The police boss said he had written Arase to return the cars, which included two official bullet-proof BMW 7 series cars, stressing that the retired police chief and his DIGs were yet to return the vehicles even after writing them.

“I suspect there must be a disconnect somewhere because every information needed by my successor are provided in my handover notes. I’m also not aware that any letter was written to me because if there was any dropped in my house, someone would have alerted me. It’s unfortunate that this matter is being made a media issue because my successor has my telephone number and could have called me for any clarification or even sent me a text message rather than addressing the media on an issue well documented in my handover notes”, Arase said of the allegations by Idris.

In all of these, President Buhari is known to have maintained a defeaning silence.




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