Editors’ note: The writer, Buchi Obichie, questions the loyalty of Buhari’s minister for women affairs, Aisha Jummai Alhassan, in light of her recent declaration of support for the 2019 presidential ambition of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. She compares Alhassan’s action to that of Peter (the disciple) and Marcus Brutus at the assassination of Julius Caesar, and warns the president that there are more ‘traitors’ in his cabinet.
On the night before the infamous crucifixion on the cross, a very toughing and significant conversation transpired between Jesus and one of his chief disciples– Peter.
As the Lord agonized over what lay ahead, Peter said to him:“I am ready to go with you even to prison and to death.”
With prophetic insight and vision of what lay ahead however, Jesus replied him saying:“I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.”
True to words of the master, Peter faltered.
Most of us are not gifted with such foresight, and can only watch gob-smacked, as the ones closest to us inflict the harshest blows on us.
But then, many of us are also fortunate not to have these gut-wrenching betrayals play out in public.
So, imagine what it must be like for a public figure to be betrayed by one of his captains, in full view of the world?
On the day of his assassination, Julius Caesar looked into the faces of his assassins and recognized that of his friend and protégé, Marcus Brutus.
In shock, just before he died, Caesar cried out,“Et tu, Brute?”
It must have felt so painful to have that memory as his final one- his own dear friend, plunging a knife into him!
As I reflect on these famous incidents of treachery, desertion and betrayal, I can only imagine how Muhammadu Buhari must feel, having been given similar treatment by one of his captains.
Aisha Jummai Alhassan aka Mama Taraba, Minister for Women Affairs, was recently caught on camera paying homage to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
She was heard boldly referring to him as:"Your excellency, my father and by the grace of God, president in 2019."
President in 2019? When her own boss (President Buhari) is still in the middle of his first term? Wow!
Then as if to plunge the knife deeper, when quizzed about the incident during a BBC Hausa interview, she stated:“Let me tell you today that if Baba said he is going to contest in 2019, I swear to Allah, I will go before him and kneel and tell him that ‘Baba I am grateful for the opportunity you gave me to serve your government as a minister; but Baba just like you know, I will support only Atiku because he is my godfather. If Atiku said he is going to contest.”
Then the punch-line followed:“If because of what I said, I am sacked, it will not bother me because I believe in Allah that my time has elapsed that is why.”
What a wawu!
In my opinion, this was a classic act of treachery! Yes, treachery!
I mean, how else do you describe that a minister in a presidents' cabinet (publicly) chose another, over her own chief…the same person who had made her ‘minister’ in the first place?
And it doesn’t even make any difference to make the argument that Buhari has not yet indicated if he would run in 2019. Even if his health situation has cast doubts over his eligibility for the presidency at the next general elections, there is absolutely no excuse for her comments!
But was Hajiya Alhassan’s action surprising? Not really.
In recent times, there have been insinuations by prominent members of the APC, that the president is surrounded by people who do not have his best interests at heart.
Some have even gone as far as referring to these individuals as ‘Jackals and Hyenas’. Whatever the description though, Madam Alhassan’s action has certainly proven this assertion right.
We do know that these individuals are not only confined to the president’s cabinet; but even if we choose to focus on that area, I wonder how many ministers would pass a test of loyalty to their boss. Or how many would falter like Peter? One? Five? Fifteen?
Does this recent episode explain why some of our ministers are performing so poorly in their assigned portfolios? Is it because they have no loyalty to their chief, and to his ideals? Are they secretly rooting for others? Are they sabotaging the government from within?
I agree that that it’s time for a ‘cleansing’ of the president’s cabinet. It is time to root out the weeds that are polluting the garden.
How much longer would Mama Taraba remain on the job? No one knows yet. Maybe as a show of magnanimity, Buhari may decide to leave her to ride out the remaining of his tenure…I don’t know…I hope not.
But one thing is for sure- if Buhari decides not to fire this rogue minister, he would constantly have to watch his back in her presence…and this is not a healthy situation for governance!
In any case, my advice to the president is to keep his eyes open.
Make no mistake, Mama Taraba is not the only one with ‘sinister’ motives within the president’s cabinet. The others are just ‘more skilled’ at masking their true colors!
Et tu, Brute? Et tu, Peter? Et tu, Aisha? How many more traitors are in the president’s cabinet?
This opinion piece was written by Buchi Obichie.