By Ismaila Chafe/Silas Nwoha
President Muhammadu Buhari has parted ways with an influential Catholic cleric, who previously described Buhari as “messiah’’ because the president refused to give him a juicy contract.
In a week the president endured the pain of bloody events in the country, controversial cleric, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka proclaimed that Buhari should resign or be impeached because of current unwholesome developments nationwide.
On April 30, the Presidency expressed shock over “the sudden U-Turn of Father Mbaka, a die-hard supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is now asking the president to resign or be impeached because he failed to secure contracts from the presidency’’.
Presidential spokesman Malam Garba Shehu, who made the revelation in a statement, said that Mbaka’s outburst was because Buhari characteristically, refused to accede to Mbaka’s demands to secure juicy contracts from the presidency.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Buhari, 78, has long been known for his anti-corruption stance and austere life style.
Buhari had started the week with condemnation of the killing of three of the students, kidnapped at Greenfield University in Kaduna State.
The president in a statement issued by the presidential spokesman, described the students as bright youngsters who were cut down in their primes by evil people.
“My thoughts are with their families in this time of grief. May their souls rest in peace,” said the president.
He extended his condolences to relatives and associates of the murdered students, describing recurring incidents of kidnappings and killings in Kaduna State as “barbaric terror attacks.”
Buhari decried the utterances of some political and religious leaders, whom he said, seemed to be inciting and stoking pains and anguish for mourning families.
On April 24, Buhari expressed his condolences on the death of the mother of the Emirs of Kano and Bichi, Hajiya Maryam Ado-Bayero.
The president in a condolence message, described the passing of Hajiya Ado-Bayero as a great shock and big loss to the emirs’ families.
“I have received the news of her death with profound sadness. She was a great and revered mother, who was a fountain of inspiration not only for her family but also others who had interacted with her.
On the same day, Buhari met behind closed doors with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, at the Presidential Villa.
NAN learnt that the meeting was part of an ongoing strategic engagements with stakeholders, aimed at finding solutions to the nation’s current security and socio-economic challenges.
Speaking to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, Gbajabiamila reiterated the commitment of the National Assembly to continuing to assist Buhari as “he works hard to find lasting solutions to current security challenges confronting the nation’’.
He disclosed that his discussion with the president centred on security and other matters relating to developments in the country.
On April 27, Buhari met separately behind closed doors with Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno and a former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, at his official residence in the Presidential Villa.
NAN learnt that Zulum used the opportunity of the meeting to update the president on security developments in Borno, while Tinubu thanked the president for his support during the 12th Asiwaju Bola Tinubu Colloquium, held in Kano last March.
Buhari had earlier on the same day, held a virtual meeting with U.S. Secretary of State, Mr Anthony Blinken, where he pleaded with the U.S. government to reconsider relocating the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) from Stuttgart, Germany, to the Gulf of Guinea, nearer the Theatre of Operation.
The Nigerian leader noted that AFRICOM should be relocated to Africa to strengthen ongoing efforts to check insecurity in Africa.
He also pleaded with the international community to support Nigeria and the West African sub-region in tackling growing insecurity.
The Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on the same day, represented Buhari at the commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Republic of Sierra Leone in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
On April 28, Buhari presided over a meeting of the Federal Executive Council, where the Ministries of Petroleum Resources, Foreign Affairs and Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development made presentations.
Those in attendance at the meeting were Osinbajo, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha and the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.
Other people, who physically attended the meeting include Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Finance, Zainab Ahmed, Justice, Abubakar Malami and Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffery Onyeama.
Others were the Ministers of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr Mohammed Bello, the Minister of State Petroleum, Mr Timipre Sylva and Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouk.
The president also hosted a special envoy of the Zambian President, Mr Edgar Lungu, at the State House on April 29, assuring that Nigeria and Zambia would deepen collaboration for the good of their peoples and benefit of the African continent.
The Special Envoy, Mr Joseph Malanji, who is Zambia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, thanked Nigeria for its “big brother role in ECOWAS and the African continent,” stressing that “equity is when strong ones strengthen the weak ones.”
On his part, Osinbajo participated virtually at the 2021 High-Level Dialogue on Feeding Africa, where he disclosed that 100,000 new extension agents were being trained for farmer advisory service delivery.
On April 30, the Presidency expressed its disappointment and sadness with Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue over accusations being levelled against Buhari by Ortom, following recent killing of soldiers and residents of the state.
The presidential spokesman said that no responsible government would take pleasure in the killing of troops and innocent citizens, taking refuge in an internally displaced people’s camp.
Shehu said that the president was deeply pained by the terrible acts of violence, happening not only in Benue but also in other parts of the country.
The spokesman quoted Buhari as again directing law enforcement agencies to go to any length to catch perpetrators of the crimes and bring them to justice.
Disturbed by reported cases of insecurity being experienced in some parts of the country, the president on April 30, again summoned a meeting of security chiefs to address the menace.
Buhari vowed that his administration would do all it would to defeat forces of evil marauding in different parts of the country and killing innocent citizens.
Those in attendance at the meeting included Mustapha, Gambari and the Minister of Defence, retired Maj-Gen. Bashir Magashi as well as the National Security Adviser, retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno.
Also in attendance were the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, Chief of Army Staff; Lieut.-Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, Chief of Naval Staff; Vice-Admiral Awwal Zubairu, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Ishiaka Amoo and the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr Usman Baba.
The meeting was adjourned to May 4.
Buhari also announced the reappointments of Otunba Segun Runsewe as Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Culture and that of Mr Folorunso Coker as Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation.
Both of them were given fresh four-year terms.
Alhaji Adedayo Thomas was also reappointed as Executive Director of the National Film and Video Censors Board for another term of four years.
According to the presidential spokesman, the president also approved the appointment of Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed as the Chief Executive Officer/Artistic Director of the National Troupe of Nigeria.
Ahmed was until his appointment, Director of Culture in the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Bauchi State. (NAN)
•PHOTO: President Buhari and Father Mbaka before they fell apart