Long before the coming of the new nomenclature called the Cabal, the name Kaduna Mafia was ascribed to some influential people in northern Nigeria. Though pseudo, many were made to believe in the existence, mightiness and the extraordinary powers of this bogus coterie. They were so branded simply because they had a sense of sectional pride, love, devotion and some emotional attachment to Kaduna in particular and northern Nigeria in general. They were never at war with citizens from the other sections of Nigeria, nor antagonistic to those in alliance with those citizens that may share different sentiments. Yet, the Kaduna mafia was the name associated with the doing of the impossible.They were simply a group of people that had confidence in their competence and were willing to compete with anybody, provided his aspirations to achieve greatness are legitimate.
This ability to turn desire into reality, by a people that believed in themselves, made the phoney name Kaduna mafia, to almost make it into the curriculum of many schools. It took time, in some cases after the demise of some of them, before the truth of the matter became clear.According to Wikipedia, Kaduna Mafia is a name given to a loose group of young Northern Nigerian intellectuals, civil servants, business tycoons and military officers residing or conducting business in the former Northern capital city of Kaduna during the end of the first republic. However, it is different from the American version of the Mafia. It is believed the resentment of competing interests led to the creation of the acerbic idea of a clique gaining headway through its closeness to power and thereby approximating resources of the state under the banner of capitalism. The group supposedly achieved most success during the first era of Obasanjo’s government, where many of its members were appointed to key positions of power and used its alliance to obtain patronage and disburse favor to friends and associates. The term Kaduna mafia was supposedly popularised by a columnist, Mvendaga Jibo, who favoured the old clique of rulers in the Yakubu Gowon and Tafawa Balewa administration. It is believed that one of the founding fathers was Major A.D. Attah from Benue state.The whole issue is inclined towards interest and reliable association that can deliver legitimate dividends over time. These interests vary and so also the associates and the associations.
That brings us to the new term in town, with which President Muhammadu Buhari is being haunted and tormented. The Cabal is the name, but unlike the Kaduna Mafia, here only three people seem to be the major targets of attack. According to the believe of their adversaries, Mallam Mamman Daura, Mallam Abba Kyari and Alhaji Samaila Islah Funtua, are the men that constitute The Presidency Cabal in roots, stem and branches. The same adversaries believed the “cabal” are closer to the president than his ears, with so much power at their disposal. They are alleged to be literally running the government, with little education and much less experience in public administration. Many have been made to swallow that balderdash hook, line, and sinker, including yours faithfully, until I stumbled on their individual biographies, viz:Mamman DauraHolds no official position in this government.Mamman Daura is a Nigerian journalist and businessman who was appointed editor of the New Nigerian Newspapers a few months after obtaining his university degree. He is a nephew and long-time associate of President Buhari. Mamman Daura and Buhari have been together for over seven decades. Daura finished secondary education at Okene Provincial School in 1956. He worked with the Daura Native Authority for a couple of years before joining the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation as a programme assistant.From 1962 to 1968, he studied Economics and Public Administration at Trinity College, Dublin. In 1968, Adamu Ciroma, Editor of the New Nigerian was looking to recruit qualified and educated northern Nigerians for the newspaper. One of those recruits was Daura who was just obtained his degree in Dublin.Daura was hesitant to take the position when he returned to Nigeria but instead worked in the office of Abba Kyari, the military governor of North-Central state.In April 1969, he finally joined New Nigerian as the paper’s editor. The first two years of his stewardship focused on the coverage of issues affecting Northerners and protection of northern interests. Daura later became the managing director of the paper’s holding company. When Murtala Mohammed’s administration opted to take over the ownership of the paper, Daura soon left the company.Mamman, a nephew of President Buhari, was influential in the government of Buhari between 1984 and 1985, and has proven to be a trusted and reliable ally to the president. He was a board member of BCCI’s Nigerian affiliate, Africa International Bank and founded a furniture factory in Kaduna. He was also a former chairman of the now defunct Nigerian Bank of Commerce and Industry.Ismaila Isa FuntuaHolds no official position in this governmentAlhaji Ismaila Isa Funtua commenced his working career at the Katsina Native Authority many decades ago, and has remained as constant as the northern star in the polity.Isa Funtua, the Manchester University-trained administrator has been indisputably remarkable. His feats as a businessman, media patron and administrator distinguished him as an exceptional statesman, whose image has been profitable to Nigeria’s developmental trajectory.Funtua, who was the Minister of Water Resources in the defunct Second Republic, had, in public and private stewardships, done what he believed was good for Nigeria. It was such disposition that saw him establishing the Democrat Newspapers during military dictatorship. At that time when decrees restrained freedom of speech, the newspaper thundered against the ills of that age.As a member of the 1994-1995 Constitutional Conference, the statesman was on the committee that came up with models in key areas of Nigeria’s existence. One of such was a special committee of 37 people on zoning and rotational presidency, which resolved that rotation of power between the North and South be entrenched in the Constitution.Born in Funtua, Katsina State, he was a pioneer student of the Federal Training Centre, Kaduna. He trained as an administrative officer at the Institute of Administration, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria and also as an administrator at the Manchester University in the UK.He was the Monitor General of the Course 9 of the prestigious National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) Kuru.Funtua served the Katsina Native Authority for seven years as Administrative Officer.He later served in various ministries in the defunct Northern Region before his secondment by the Northern Region government as the Personnel Manager of the 10, 500 strong United Nigerian Textile Company, Kaduna. From there, he became a successful entrepreneur.Funtua is the founder of Bulet International Nigeria Limited (the largest wholly owned indigenous construction company) which built most of the iconic public structures in Abuja.He is the founding Managing Director of the New Africa Holdings (publishers of the defunct Democrat newspapers).Funtua was elected Vice President to the late MKO Abiola as President of the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) where he declined to succeed MKO as President while the later was being incarcerated by General Sani Abacha.He later became the President of the NPAN.Funtua, who was the youngest minister in the Shagari administration, is a life patron of the NPAN, a staunch defender of free press and free speech, philanthropist, humanist, chairman and director of many successful companies.Abba KyariChief of Staff to President Buhari from 2015 to date.Trained at University of Warwick in England where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology, he also possesses a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Law from the University of Cambridge. He was called to the Nigerian Bar after attending the Nigerian Law School in 1983.In 1984, he obtained a master’s degree in law from the University of Cambridge. He later attended the International Institute for Management at Lausanne, Switzerland and participated in the Program for Management Development at the Harvard Business School, in 1992 and 1994.
These are among the best universities one could attend anywhere in the world. After such a brilliant academic career, Abba Kyari worked in a couple of blue chip firms where he acquired management skills and gained a lot of corporate experience.He worked for the law firm, Fani-Kayode and Sowemimo for some time after his return to Nigeria. From 1988 to 1990, he was Editor with the New Africa Holdings Limited, Kaduna. In 1990 he served as Commissioner for Forestry and Animal Resources in Borno State. From 1990 to 1995, Kyari was Secretary to the Board of African International Bank Limited.At the United Bank for Africa, he was Executive Director, Management Services and was later appointed Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Bank. He was appointed a Director of Unilever Nigeria Plc in 2002 and is a Director of Exxon Mobil Nigeria.He is a recipient of the Nigerian Honor Award of Officer of the Order of the Niger (O.O.N).These men no doubt must have made enemies among some prominent people in the country who see them as obstacles to their inordinate political ambitions, economic ambitions and rapacious desire for material resources. All the noise against these noble men must be coming from a group of people who see the country as a cow to be milked, and may have been hampered from having the opportunity to milk it. Certainly the whole thing is fueled by political ambitions and how to take control by 2023.Perhaps out of the belief in the virtue of modesty, some people take simplicity as a shield to safeguard their honesty and integrity. These types of people would never want to join issues with those that are less endowed. You cannot call a man with such intimidating credentials less educated or inexperienced in public administration. It will be a classical case of calling a spade with a different name. More importantly, one cannot blame any president who feels safe in the presence of people with such tremendous amount of education, knowledge, experience, honesty, integrity, loyalty and patriotism. Much as Iam not in support of the hijacking of power by a group, Iam also not in support of the call for leaders to denounce their old time friends, who have been with them in heat and in cold. Any arrangement between friends, intended to promote mutual interest or add value to national service should not be seen as a disservice. Someone said, it’s a case of another cabal trying to take over from the cabal.
Those coining and criminalising the actions of the “cabal”, should please visit the mirror and take a sincere look at themselves. A Yoruba adage says, if you point an accusing finger at someone, three of your fingers point at you.
Ibrahim writes from Kaduna.