The confusion, denials and counter-denials surrounding the discovery by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of $43 million in an apartment in Ikoyi, may have been caused by President Muhammadu Buhari’s aversion to reading memos, a Nigerian Times investigation has revealed.
Chats with multiple sources in the highest reaches of Nigeria’s security community revealed that President Buhari has a strong aversion for reading documents and prefers verbal briefings.
Our sources say that even when such briefings take place, they are hardly understood by the president except the language used is Hausa or Fulani.
This, they say has been the pattern since President Buhari took office.
”The C-in-C may claim memory lapse, but he was fully briefed on all NIA on-going operations in and outside the country, verbally and in writing”.
“The president’s dislike of written memos particularly those that run into several pages is well known in government circles.
He has no time for “Turenchi” but prefers verbal briefings. Even at that, the President prefers such briefings in either the Hausa or Fulfude. He always has a disinterested look when he is being briefed in the English language and tends to forget most of what he had been briefed about,” a source said.
Our source said that such is President Buhari’s preference for Hausa and Fulfude, that during National Security Council meetings, the president would without warning and consideration for those who cannot speak the two languages, burst into any of the two languages and sometimes for one hour or more or even for the rest of the meeting, deliberations would be conducted in those languages with those unable to speak them, completely alienated from deliberations.
“When the president lapses into one of these languages, he is completely in his elements and gone is the bored look he wears when being briefed in English,” our source said.
Nigerian Times checks within the security community show that the president’s attitude has remained a source of worry for them given the often sensitive nature of their activities.
They told this paper that it was the realisation of this weakness in the president that the Presidency sought through a story it pushed out via a friendly online news medium, to stave off embarrassment and ridicule by denying President Buhari was briefed about the money found in the Ikoyi flat and operations it was being used for.
To underscore their position that there is no way President Buhari would claim to be unaware of the money discovered in the flat in Ikoyi, they told this paper that an incoming president usually receives two types of the briefing. The first of these briefings is contained in the handover notes prepared by the outgoing government.
The notes contain general matters of administration such as amount of money handed over, projects completed and ongoing, subsisting agreements (bilateral and multilateral) and other important matters to assist the incoming president to settle in quickly into governance.
After the handover notes have been handed over, the new president is specifically reserved for the president in his capacity as chief security officer of the nation and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
These briefings are of a security nature and our sources say President Buhari was fully briefed about pending, ongoing and completed security projections and operations.
“In the weeks before Col. Dasuki, the former NSA was sacked, Nigeria’s top security and intelligence chiefs briefed President Buhari on all security projects executed and still being executed. He was briefed on such matters as weapons purchased by the Jonathan administration to fight the insurgency, listening devices, and equipment for the Department of State Services. These things were brought to President Buhari’s attention. Even if because of old age the president claims that he wasn’t briefed that does not alter the fact that he was brought up to speed on all security matters including operations by the NIA,” a source said.
The source disclosed that the broad outlines of NIA operations and plans were captured in the handover notes former NSA, Dasuki handed to his successor, Baba Gana Monguno.
The source added that NIA Director General, Ayodele Oke, made a written memo to President Buhari in his first month in office. The memo was submitted through NSA Monguno. He followed it up with a verbal briefing of the president.
Later in 2016, the NIA boss made another detailed presentation to President Buhari. Like the first time, the memo was submitted to the NSA for onward transmission to the president.
Our source said it took the NSA six full months to act on the memo. Each time the NIA boss asked the NSA if he had forwarded the memo to the president, the NSA would reply that he had yet to read it. Six months after unremitting pressure from the NIA DG, the NSA finally acted. He set up a commitee that went round the country to verify NIA projects like roads, drianages and other operations. It was learnt that President Buhari was appraised of these matters including the purchase of the flat in Ikoyi where it kept the milions seized by EFCC. The flat was reportedly boguth several months after Buhari came into office.
The whole confusion surrounding the NIA millions seized by teh EFCC and the attempt by the presidency to distance itself from the saga by denying knowledge of the cash, sources say, stems margely from the turf war between the NSA and the DG,DSS. UNlike in previous government where the NSA coordinated all security matters, the situation in Buhari’s government is different.Under Buhari, the DSS boss has on account of the filial relations with the president completely sidelined the NSA.
Where he ordinarily ought to channel his requests through NSA, he bypasses him and goes directly to the president.
As source said the DSS DG briefs the president verbally instead of via written memo and that he beriefing is conducted in Hausa and that the President usually nods his approval.
Add to that are Munguno’s personal failing. “Munguno plays hard, very hard that he is not always in the right frame of mind to attend to the demands of his office”, a source in the ONSA told us.