Making sense of the real reasons for sacking DSS Lawal Daura, by Prof Abubakar Liman

Professor Abubakar Aliyu Liman
Professor Abubakar Aliyu Liman

Theories abound as to the real reasons why DSS Daura has to be asked to go unceremoniously by the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo. However, the difficult task I set out to do here is to attempt to make sense of the entire saga, especially in the context of misleading explanations coming out of different quarters, official and unofficial. Indeed, it is true that plots are thickening towards 2019 elections, and all the political heavyweights in the country are up and doing. They can be seen moving from pillar to post to mobilize support. In other instances, they can be seen flexing their muscles to either safeguard their turfs or even to solicit fresh gains in unchartered territories. It is also true that the stakes are in the run up to elections becoming very high. There is thus a harvest of desperate politicians with lots of resources at their disposal to lavish on individuals that are willing to facilitate their political calculations. This way they can make or mar the ambitions of other less materially endowed competitors. This is expected in our politics. There is therefore nothing unusual about this type of self-serving politicking from the different shades and contours of our politicians in APC, PDP and any indeed any other contraption that will eventually emerge. I sincerely hope that you do not think what our desperate politicians do is out of place? It would have surprised everybody if by now the political temperature in the country is not saturated with mind-boggling intrigues.


It is in such great moments of epiphany that the National Assembly incident happened, which can be seen purely in terms of fears entertained by the APC of those hatching plots against the party. The obvious outcomes of the uncertainties that greeted the recent waves of defections and counter-defections from one political camp to another are now clear to all and sundry. In the ongoing shadowboxing, the APC ruling elites are most anxious of the intentions of the powerful elements trooping out of the party. The party itself has also appeared to be uncomfortable with the political maneuvers of its formidable opponents as large chunk of them decamped from APC to PDP, and vice versa (a la Senator Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom). Carpet crossing is one of the most important markers of Nigerian politics. Therefore, for now everybody should learn to live with it. But as 2019 general elections draw nearer, as plots and machinations thickened, and as the clock steadily and surely ticks away, we should expect many more attempts by top politicians and their foot soldiers to outmaneuver their political opponents in the ensuing game of power. This development will only continue to be messier and deadlier by the minute. Our ardent prayer is to say that may the jostling for power not exacerbate political instability in the country any further! Amen!


In all honesty, in a particular sense DSS Lawal Daura seems to have been made into a scapegoat in a plot that has gone sour. You may also wish to think that he was merely sacrificed at the temple of convenience to save what was left of the integrity of the APC as a party that promised not to repeat the mistakes of the PDP in its days of impunity and highhandedness. The APC move to checkmate Saraki and his followers in the bid to wrest control of the leadership of the National Assembly was, to say the least, dead on arrival. This is not because of anything other than the lack of party discipline and cohesion of APC senators and their congress members that could not stop bickering over the best possible candidate to replace Saraki as Senate President. You may wish to recall that the media was awash with the news about the meeting between the APC legislatures and the new party Chairman, comrade Adams Ashiomhole. The meeting took place almost at the same time that the DSS boys were stopping the PDP senators and their hired crowd from staging their showmanship before television cameras at the entrance of the National Assembly. Everything happened in the wee hours of Tuesday morning on August 7, 2018.  There is really nothing as dumb as going back to those precarious days when former President Obasanjo tried in vain to muzzle his opponents, whether those opponents were from his own party or the opposition. The ruling APC knows that very well because it made assurances to institute rule of law as its key campaign mantra. Although public reaction to what happened at National Assembly was mixed, it was however thought that Nigeria has since graduated from that level of crudity in the pursuit of power for selfish ends.


Furthermore, it was speculated that the failure of the APC to mobilize enough senators to change the current leadership of the Senate has led them to resort to acts of desperation and brigandage in the form of directing DSS Lawal Daura to use arm-twisting tactics to forcefully remove the Senate leadership. This action has obviously given the lie to the APC government, which goes about flaunting democratic credentials that it too does not have. Strong-arm tactics have never helped the PDP if its past mistakes were to serve any lesson to APC. From that National Assembly siege, one can safely draw some conclusions. The APC has all alone been feigning what it never was in the first place. And the APC has always pretended to uphold the sterling principles of democracy whenever opportunity presented itself to contrast its approach with famed PDP’s draconian handling of any form of opposition. Anyway, the other scenario that most commentators are busy painting is also very hard to digest. I just find it very difficult to see either the sense or the logic of DSS Daura to foolishly act the script of embattled Senate President in order to discredit his own employer and kinsman, President Muhammadu Buhari, who overlooked every other thing else to appoint him as the Director General of the Department of State Service.


And due to the laissez-faire attitude of a President who has since made the costly mistake of promising not to interfere with the functions of his key appointees, this alone has negatively affected the image of his government. Apparently, his indifference to what his appointees do has emboldened to act recklessly in carrying out their duties and responsibilities. Aloofness in governance is not an option in a democratic arrangement. This can only lead to fundamental errors of judgment. Instead, there will only be confusion in governance when everybody is left to do as they wish own with nobody to call anyone to order, and also with no appropriate mechanisms of monitoring and evaluation of what officials do in their respective ministries and departments. DSS Daura is just the tip of the iceberg going by reports of happenings in some ministries and their parastatals. Ideally the office of the President should have guaranteed proper supervision of what top government officials do if not for the attitude of Mr. President of remaining aloof to the shoddy dealings of his officials. This situation is also complicated the more by the attitude of members of Mr. President’s kitchen cabinet (the so called cabal of self-serving individuals unofficially hovering in his shadows of Mr. President). The cabal is myopically interested in maximizing personal gains. I guess this is the main source of the impunity of Buhari’s government. That is why there is no sane voice anywhere to check the excesses of erring government officials.


This is context in which I locate what DSS Daura directed his men to do going by what he was purported to have said after immediately after his sack in which, according to him, he was acting on the directives of APC Chairman Adams Ashiomhole, as delivered to him through the Chief of Staff Malam Abba Kyari. This can only take place because of the manner in which Mr. President had for long allowed some spooky elements to usurp his executive powers and, by extension, the embarrassing interference in the government functions by those shadowy characters around him. For some times now there have been allegations making the rounds that the DSS has consistently been embarrassing the government. Before now his employer was ever tolerant as he used to ignore his excesses and that of his other officials. In fact, President Buhari has been exercising restrain in situations where he is supposed to take responsibility on happenings with dispatch. This time around DSS Daura whose residence has been turned into a place of pilgrimage, where top government functionaries frequent themselves has since decided to throw caution to the wind by directing his men to lay siege on the National Assembly without minding the implications of such action. There were indeed legions of infractions and breaches of protocols made by DSS Daura that could not possibly be mentioned on these pages. In any case, the last straw that has broken the camel’s back is the reckless obstruction of our distinguished Senators of PDP extraction that were denied entrance to the upper chambers to do whatever they wanted to do even at that unusual time of the day.


Finally, I see the prompt response of Mr. President to the incident at the National Assembly as a result of robust pressure mounted through mammoth outbursts and outcries of national and international figures to the open threat of the very act of laying siege on the National Assembly to the survival of our nascent democracy. Otherwise, the President will as usual ignore it as if it is not worth his attention.