Cabal doesn’t control me, Buhari replies wife, Aisha

. Presidency warns appointees against extortion, influence peddling

President Muhammadu Buhari has denied claims by his wife, Aisha, that two persons she referred to as “Cabal” were controlling the affairs of his government.
The President, yesterday, challenged the First Lady to prove the existence of the Cabal or remain silent.
Buhari, in an interview with the Hausa service of the Voice of America, shared yesterday, stressed that no one or group of persons were dictating the affairs of his government as being claimed.
Reminded in the interview that his wife and others have consistently claimed the existence of a cabal running his government, Buhari simply said: “That is her business. This shows I am a democrat. What they are saying is different from what is happening.
They should come out and say those things they feel were stage-managed by the cabal; what the cabal forced me to do. They should mention just one thing.”
Mrs. Buhari, while addressing a gathering of All Progressives Congress (APC) women in Abuja on December 4, told Nigerians that although over 15 million Nigerians voted for Buhari in 2015, “only two or three persons have since taken control of the government.”
She said that the leadership of the country under her husband would have performed better, but for two powerful individuals who are retrogressive elements preventing the government from moving forward.
Aisha said that she was disappointed in men who rather than fight these two men would go to them in the night begging for favour.
In an interview with the BBC in 2016, Mrs. Buhari had threatened to withdraw support for her husband if he chose to seek reelection unless he shakes up his cabinet and includes more people who worked for his success in 2015.
She said although the victory of the APC in 2015 “was a collective effort of millions of people, only for us to find out that the government is being operated by a few people.”
Mrs. Buhari, however, did not name the individuals or elaborate on her claims.
Meanwhile, the Presidency, yesterday, issued a warning to political appointees, government officials and party men against influence peddling for corrupt pecuniary gains and other forms of extortion.
A presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, told State House Correspondents in Abuja that complaints of extortions of innocent people by what he called “self-serving name droppers and influence peddlers” was causing increasing embarrassment to the Presidency.
He said: “President Buhari had made it very clear since his inauguration that he won’t tolerate any form of impropriety by his appointees, aides and government officials who abuse and misuse their offices for illegal financial advantages.” Shehu, who is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, explained that using one’s office or influence for private advantage or financial gains was corruption.
He, therefore, warned that the president would not tolerate any conduct by anybody to use his name to extort innocent people.
The media aide stressed that President Buhari’s commitment to fight corruption at all fronts in his government remained unchanged.
He added that “those who are not genuinely committed to this vision would be weeded out once caught and punished accordingly.”
He advised Nigerians to report any government officials or appointees using the president’s name or that of his aides and appointees to extort the public.

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