Given the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari has been widely perceived as taciturn and aloof, it is remarkable that at the heart of the engine room of his private political machine was until recently, a troika of newspapermen.
The troika is what many Nigerians have referred to as the cabal that has been repeatedly described as the alternative presidency.
The membership and the methods of the cabal have spurned many anecdotes.
This troika until death recently started visiting defined the pace and pattern of the Buhari government. It consisted of three former newsmen; Mamman Daura, Abba Kyari and Mallam Isa Funtua all of whom interfaced with one another in the newsrooms of two of Kaduna’s once vibrant newspapers, the New Nigerian and The Democrat.
It is also not surprising that the assumed head of the Buhari cabal, that is M.D. as his name is from time to time whispered, has also been repeatedly reputed as a recurring operative of the amorphous political wheeler-dealer body, the Kaduna Mafia.
So, given this tie with newspapermen, how Buhari did not turn into a man of letters, words or gossip as journalists are perceived is a wonder.
In fact, so straight-jacketed and predictable is our president that he hardly would deviate from prepared speeches handed over to him by his minders.
Despite being newspaper men, these men, especially Kyari and Daura also become famously reticent despite their very visible roles in politics.
Kyari as chief of staff was reputed to be a man who read much but spoke very little.
Funtua, the newspaper owner was perhaps more outgoing and outspoken than the other two men.
Following the death of Kyari last April and last month’s decease of Funtua, it was perhaps not wholly shocking that that loneliness that Daura had always sought became more gripping for him.
It was in the wake of this loneliness that Daura, the president’s 80-year old nephew, came out to grant his first interview in many years.
It was remarkable, not a chance eruption of the alternative president bumping into a reporter along the way.
The medium was well chosen, the BBC Hausa Service, indicative of the audience he sought to pass his message to.
Though the full interview will only come out today, the BBC did not mind teasing us with an excerpt that has already turned the political landscape upside down.
In the excerpt, the interviewee stressed the need of burying the informal rotational system that has guided the selection of the country’s presidents.
His argument for the burial of rotation in the distribution of the presidency was apparently aimed at enthroning competence in the affairs of the land.
Why Daura would preach competence at this time over zoning ordinarily could be deciphered as the fears of a man apprehensive about his imminent displacement from the power peak he has operated from in the last five or six years.
The exit of Buhari and his replacement with a southerner or a Middle-Belter apparently would not give him the kind of leverage he has had in the last five or so years.
That the interview was granted to the BBC Hausa Service would also indicate the determination of the Kaduna Mafia operative to rally the faithful on the need to sustain the North’s hold over the reins of power in the country to the disadvantage of the South and the Middle Belt.
However, that supplication is inherently challenged because the North as Daura knew it 30 or so years ago in the heyday of the Kaduna Mafia is not what it used to be.
Just as two legs of the Buhari Cabal have been overcome by death, so other crucial legs upon which the Kaduna Mafia depended on have also ossified.
The emotion and eruptions in Southern Kaduna today partly reflect the reason why Daura’s message will not go far. Indeed, with that section of the North enveloped in mourning with a Northerner in power, the people of Southern Kaduna would be at loss on what Daura would be wanting to pass to them about sustaining power in the North after Buhari.
The one time unity that drove passions across geographical boundaries in the North has been decimated by the emergence of ethnic cum religious divisions.
That is the legacy that will not be defined with the name of Mamman Daura, but with the name of Muhammadu Buhari, the man in whose name and under whose watch, the One North legacy of Ahmadu Bello have been fully buried.