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There is only one takeaway from the Abike Dabiri and Isa Pantami fight

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There is only one takeaway from the Abike Dabiri and Isa Pantami fight

The CEO of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri, and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, were involved in a public row last weekend. It was the latest snapshot of the chaos and conflict associated with the Buhari-administration.

What happened: In an interview last weekend, Dabiri accused Isa Pantami of forcefully evicting her staff from an allocated office using armed security officers and locking up their equipment.

  • The Minister denied the allegation, calling it a fat lie.
  • Dabiri responded to the Minister’s denial with a tweet that read: “An Islamic scholar should not lie Hon. Minister [a laughing face icon that suggested she was mocking the Minister’s Doctorate degree]. Your disrespect for women is legendary. I left the ugly incident behind me since Feb[ruary]. But please release all our office equipment. Public office is transient.”

Both senior government officials dragged the agencies under their supervision into the Twitter war. The handler of the official Twitter account of the Federal Ministry of Communications had to apologize after tweeting a poorly-worded insult at Abike Dabiri from the Ministry’s official account.

One response: The main opposition party, PDP, has called for the dissolution of the President’s Executive Council because it “has become cancerous, disorganized, chaotic, and incapable of driving an organized, result-oriented system.”

Nothing new here: Chaos and public fights appear to be the preferred mode of operation in the Buhari government.

  • This same Abike Dabiri in 2017 had announced a travel advisory to the United States contrary to the position of the Foreign Affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, who asked everyone to ignore her.
  • The former minister of petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, and the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Maikanti Baru, were involved in a public spat that involved leak of private letters and public statements.
  • President Buhari has reportedly rescinded appointments allegedly made by the late Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, without his authorization.
  • The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Services (DSS) have both been at each others throats since Buhari took office, even though they both report to the presidency.
  • The National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, wrote a memo accusing the president’s late chief of staff, Abba Kyari, of “unwarranted meddlesomeness.”

Bottomline: The one takeaway from the Dabiri and Pantami affair is that it is not their faults. In a situation where the president fails to show leadership in managing the affairs of his team and the country, the outcome is a turf war with all players trying to grab a piece. Of course it reflects badly on Dabiri and Pantami, but the buck stops with President Buhari.

Peter Adeshina is a journalist who reports politics, policy and governance.

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