Like millions of Nigerians in the Diaspora I woke up last Wednesday morning and started my day by going online to keep abreast as usual of happenings back home. In this exceptional season of political betrayals and high-wire politics associated with the looming general elections of early next year one could not afford to be indifferent to news (good or bad) emanating from the home-front.
Navigating the world wide web I stumbled on the breaking news concerning the dismissal with immediate effect of the 'omnipotent' Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, by the federal government led by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. He was instantly replaced by the Bayelsa-born Matthew Seiyefa.
Lawal Daura was, before his fall from grace and consequent arrest and interrogation, a powerful figure in the embattled Buhari administration. And he was said to be a prominent member of the dreaded Aso Rock cabal wielding extra-ordinary power in the presidency. A controversial man from all indications he was also a polarising figure who had enjoyed immunity in his unpatriotic actions and abuse of the democratic system.
He was the one, it could be recalled, who, via a damning memo he forwarded to the Senate, stood against the Senate confirmation of Ibrahim Magu as the substantive Chairman of the EFCC. the President had dutifully forwarded Magu's name repeatedly to the Red Chamber for the anti-graft agency's head to be 'promoted' from his acting capacity but Daura, for some inexplicable reasons in defiance of the presidential initiative, had worked assiduously to thwart the nomination.
His motive then was interpreted to mean a dysfunctional presidency where the Commander-In-Chief was not in full control of his presidential elements. Till today Magu has not been confirmed! And Buhari has refused to replace him as the Saraki-led Senate were demanding of him. Daura had his way! One had wondered what Buhari thought about it all as the drama unfolded.
A lot of other presidential directives that were flouted went a long way to paint the President as a Head of state without much control of his dominant staff -- especially those from his northern region. Buhari is said to be held 'hostage' by hawks from his origin especially in the security sector.
So when the good news of Daura's revocation was announced many discerning Nigerians identified with the move and applauded same. Prof. Osinbajo was said to have taken the decision in perfect accord with the President presently in London on a two-week working vacation. Unknown to Daura when he was summoned to the Villa reportedly by the Acting President his fate had been sealed with Osinbajo having already consulted and gotten the express approval of the number one citizen to show Daura the way out.
Reports had it that when he walked in he was asked on whose orders he had deployed some hooded DSS goons to the National Assembly days prior and the arrogant man had retorted that he was only answerable to the President in apparent demonstration of insubordination towards the diminutive number two citizen. Daura was said to be loyal only to his 'brother' Buhari and no one else hence his hubris.
Rumours were agog online of how the presidency had acted swiftly by deposing him and taking him away discreetly to a secret location where he is still cooling his heels! The gist in towns and cities across the federation was that Daura must have been working in cahoot with the recently decamped Senate President Saraki to sabotage the Buhari regime from within! This could be true to some extent.
Given Bukola Saraki's notoriously treacherous political antecedents it is not unlikely that he could have 'recruited' the fallen D-G to do his bidding. Ever since he dumped the ruling APC party for the opposition PDP the polity has been (lately) over-heated with a gale of defections and counter-defections. The political permutations toward the 2019 presidential poll have gotten to a feverish pitch. Saraki himself is said to be secretly nursing a presidential ambition, so no one is surprised by his actions.
Daura had abused his powers with impunity long before now. He was operating like a demi-god who was beyond any sanction. While his ancestral origin (from the same locality in Katsina state as the President) had played immensely in his favour he must have over-reached himself by sending in the masked 'terrorists' to invade the bastion of democracy in Abuja leading to national outcry. The excessive use of the security apparatus by the federal government against the opposition elements had been condemned by a vast majority of Nigerians.
By relieving Daura of his appointment, however, President Buhari has somewhat reasserted his waning authority. By so doing he has demonstrated that he is still in charge --- his health challenge nothwithstanding. A President is recognised as a good one on a global scale by his capacity to hire and fire at the right moment in time. Inability to take decisions are considered weak points.
Daura's eviction from the Villa has sent a deafening message to the tin-gods in the seat of power or elsewhere that it cannot be business as usual. You either shape up or be shoved off. While we are stupefied by the turn of events as regards the Daura revocation we commend the powers-that-be for doing the right thing to safe-guard this hard-won democracy.
Against this backdrop we must urge all and sundry that the 2019 general elections must be transparent, free and fair in order for our nascent democratic experiment to be on a good progressive stead. Anything or anybody that threatens to compromise same must be taken out. No one is above the law in our constitution!
For Lawal Daura, therefore, it is the end of a power intoxication in its naked form. He was corrupted by absolute power! Whereever he is being detained presently he must have had the ample time to ponder over his misdeeds and what would have been had he demonstrated, on duty, the expected security service delivery to the fatherland. He served himself more than the nation.
Alas, he would be remembered like we remember another security guru whose dictatorial exploits during the late Sani Abacha tyranny gave him away as a power-drunk unelected lackey: Ismaila Gwarzo.
While we recognise that our dear nation is not under the 'Abacharian' dictatorship Daura and Gwarzo shared a certain hubristic gerontocratic disposition. Nigeria would be better off with both of them (with their born-to-rule mentality) behind bars.