President Muhammadu Buhari has come under severe pressure to sack the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Sovereign Investment Fund, NSIA, Mr. Uche Orji, and a number of other influential technocrats in his government.
The move, said to be promoted surprisingly by a senior Presidency official, is designed to culminate in the formation of a brand new team of technocrats and politicians who will take over these and other strategic institutions and agencies of government.
The perceived sins of the Managing Director of NSIA is his assumed proximity to the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari.
It is the belief of the plotters that the sack of Orji will also weaken the Chief of Staff and put him on the line of fire.
A highly reliable source who was at the meeting, disclosed that there is also a plan to launch a campaign against them soon. The source said the move is aimed at gaining influence in the presidents campaign team ahead of the 2019 election
It was unclear at press time whether President Buhari or his Vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was aware of the plot, but highly placed officials of the Buhari administration are said to be involved.
A source argued that it would be naive for anyone to think the senior Presidency official, whose aide was available at the meeting, had no knowledge of such high-stake plot.
Members of the group who had benefitted so much from President Buhari’s magnanimity, had moved to ensure the sack of Baru while the President was on his last working visit to London.
The leader of the group had, according to sources, tried to latch on to the momentum of the sack of the Director-General of the Department of State Service, DSS, Lawal Daura, by the acting President, Osinbajo, to effect the sack of Baru were also to be arrested and given the same treatment that was meted out to the sacked DG, DSS.
He however, escaped the plot because out of the country on official engagements.
Osinbajo had enjoyed rave recommendations in the media for Daura’s sack, while the proponents of this plot had hoped that he would be emboldened to deploy the powers of his office to rework the administrative infrastructure along the line of instilling discipline and redirection in government.
In recent weeks, several reports have appeared in some online publications against these men who are considered the true technocrats in Buhari’s administration,
There had been an ongoing medias attack on Malami who had been accused of shady deals in the handling of the repatriation of funds said to have been looted by the family of the late General Sani Abacja.
His legal advice to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on the prosecution of suspects in the $1.1 billion Malabu scandal was also twisted to mean an advice to discontinue the trial.
His advice to the Inspector General of Police on the interim report on Offa bank robbery which indicted the Senate president, Bukola Saraki, to do more investigations was also wrongly interpreted in the media as a legal clearance for Saraki.
The AGF had had to make clarifications on these subjects several times to put the record straight.
Orji was first appointed in October 2012 for a term of five years, renewable for another term. He was re-appointed October last year for another term of five years.
Femi Adesina, spokesman of the President, who announced the reappointment, said the NSIA under Orji’s leadership’’ made remarkable strides and its assets now stand at over $2 billion, which is invested in Nigerian infrastructure, economic stabilisation and future generation funds.’’
There had also not been any love lost between Baru and the Minister of State for Petroleum since the appointment of the latter, culminating in the scandalous leakage of a private memo to the President.
It may be recalled that the content of the memo had since been established as baseless and put to rest.
Some analysts in the know of the plot have also argued that those behind the plot may actually be moles in the administration who are working against President Buhari’s re-election bid.
They reasoned that it could not have been mere coincidence that Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had intensified attacks on the NNPC and Baru in recent days.