Turai’s consummate power play...Her secret emails, others facts
In the period between December 15, 2009 and January 17, 2010, the ailing President's wife, Turai Yar'Adua, was aggressively engaged in an intricate power manoeuvre to rally support for her husband; reaching out and offering carrots to those previously classified
as 'enemies' of the administration; and building new allies with the sole purpose of keeping the seat of power safe. From her new base in Saudi Arabia, where she manages her husband's health, fresh facts emerging from email exchanges made exclusively available to NEXTonSunday, reveal the fascinating web of the power machinery organized around Mrs Yar'Adua who, as the perfect Amazon, is emerging as perhaps the most politically shrewd, even if desperate, 'First Lady' in the history of Nigerian presidency.
While Nigeria's President, Umaru Yar'Adua lay critically ill in King Faisal hospital in far away Saudi Arabia, throw the country into confusion over the leadership vacuum, to Turai Yar'Adua the President, was surreptitiously orchestrating an elaborate power scheme and was, in effect running the affairs of the country. Fresh evidence, obtained exclusively by Next, shows a ground plan in which Mrs Yar'Adua, assisted by some politically connected Northerners, curbed the power of the Executive Council of the Federation and tried to curry the favour of loyalists and foes alike in an effort the family's hold on power. For more than 2 months, the group- the ''cabal''- succeeded in warding off all efforts to fill the leadership vacuum and thereby frustrated constitutional processes. It is not clear whether Mrs. Yar'Adua was protecting the interests of her ailing husband; indeed, it appears that she may have more interested in holding on to the influence that her current position afforded her.
Spanning a period of about five weeks from December 15, 2009, series of email show the lively discourse that took place between Mrs. Yar'Adua, members of the executive council, legislators, presidential aides, some prominent Northern elites. Events took a dramatic turn when in late December, she went beyond her loyalists and reached out to a well antagonist, Nasir, el-rufai, the former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Analysts believe that this may have been an attempt on her part to garner support of the politically strong Northerners while also bridging the gap between loyalists and rivals. Mrs. Yar'Adua's says otherwise.
''Nasir Wallahitallahi duk yadda ka dauka bah aka bane (Nasir, by God, honestly, it s not what you think) I just want to help you out,'' the first lady said in an email to Mr. el-rufai on January 14, 2010.
While the nation simmered and accusations and counter accusations flew across groups, the parliament and the Presidency, Mrs Yar'Adua was subtly making plans on how to retain power. According to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, the 80 day delay in handing over Presidential powers to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan was engineered by the first lady's to solidify her power in the light of her husband's dwindling health.
''This whole thing was about power. You must remember that she had the hope that if her husband became incapacitated, she would be made the Vice President,'' our source said.
Having been assured of the loyalty of her husband's cronies, Mrs. Yar'Adua took the next step to woo her antagonists.
''It is all about power. She was trying to gather friend and to neutralize enemies. Because she wanted to be made the VP, she felt that if she could win over enemies, then they would not oppose her ambitions,'' another source said,When contacted by Next, Mr. el-Rufai, who is currently exiled in Dubai and has been in the fore front of asking for the President's resignation, said he did not know what sort of help Mrs. Yar'Adua wanted to offer him.
''I did not have a clue what help she was offering. I did not care and I did not think that she was in a position to help me,'' the former minister, said.
A subsequent email sent by the first lady to the former minister of however gives a clue on what Mrs. Yar'Adua hoped to offer Mr el-rufai in return for his support.''Amma nayi maka Alkawari ba wani wanda ya isa ya kara wata Magana Akanka (but I make you a promise that no one will ever again complicate your situation) if I remain the firs(t) lady,'' Mrs. Yar'Adua promised in an email sent to Mr el-Rufai on January 18, 2010. She may have been referring to the eight-count charge, brought against the former minister by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Last year, on Wednesday , May 6, 2009, the EFCC charged Mr. El-Rufai to Court on charges including abuse of office, and followed this upnby declaring him wanted on account of his failure to appear to appear before the Courts. Mr el-rufai insists that he did no wrong and that he was being persecuted by those whose toes he had steeped on while he was the FCT Minister.
The Middle man
Serving as the channel for the initial correspondence between the two parties was Baba Adams. Mr Adams, a Nigerian who serves as the director of Research and Assessment at the North central University, Prescott Arizona, presented himself as the middle man trying to establish contact between the first lady and different parties. In one of the messages sent on December 24, 2009, Mr. Adams in an email to the President, via the first lady, appealed to him to cede power between to his deputy. Mr Adams copied several parties in the Mil including members of the Executive Council of the Federation, some legislators, aides of the President, and some prominent Northerners. Mr Adams copied Sultan of Sokoto; Buba Marwa, a former military Governor and current Ambassador to South Africa; Mohammed Abba Aji, the Presidential adviser on Presidential matters; David Mark, the Senate President; Taminu Yakubu, the President's economic adviser; Babatunde Osotimehin, the Minister for health and a close ally of the Mrs Yar'Adua; Michael Aondoakaa, former Attorney General; and Ojo Maduekwe, the Foriegn Affairs Minister among others. It is unclear what Mr Adams' relationship is with these people but a legislator who was copied in the email, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, a House of Representatives member, denied having a personal knowledge of Mr Adams while also denying a personal relationship with the first family.
''I have no idea of what you are talking about. If you are talking of my role as a parliamentarian, and a member of Action Congress, no problem. But in terms of personal relationship, none at all. I met Yar'Adua once as Governor of Katsina State, when some House of Representatives members were on a visit to Katsina. Perhaps Mrs. Yar'Adua might recognize me as a member of the parliament, and a former NTA staff she probably sees on TV sometimes. My stand was very simple: handover to your deputy.
I believe Mr Adam copies his mail to some senators and members, as he normally does,'' Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa said to NEXT. Mr Adams' next step soon after that email was to take steps to link up Mr. el-rufai with the Mrs. Yar'Adua.
''I just got an email from Her Excellency Hajia Turai Yar'Adua, the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from Saudi Arabia. She wants to speak to you by telephone-so please can you email me your best contact phone number. With all due respect to you and the First Lady, we would appreciate if you will keep the communication confidential to avoid any unnecessary altercations,'' Mr Adams said in an email dated December 26 2009. Thus began the correspondence between the former and the first lady.
''Maganar taimakon da kike cewa za ki yi mani, nag ode amma ban a bukatar taimakon wani dan Adam, domin na kai kara wurin Allah, Subhanahu wa ta'ala (As for the assistance that you want to render to me, thank you very much, but I do not need help from any human being because I have left everything in the hands of Allah, Subhanahu wa ta'ala),'' was the final response sent by Mr el-Rufai to the first lady in an email, dated January 16, 2010. Mr. Adams did not respond to email enquiry on his motivation for the various mails sent to the different parties.
Mrs. Yar'Adua's quest for power led her to seek reconciliation with those who had hitherto fallen out of favor with her family. Mr el-Rufai was just one of many. According to acknowledgeable sources, the aim of the reconciliation exercise was for the sole purpose of neutralizing opposition by renewing friendships which had long gone sour. Others who Mrs Yar'Adua reportedly approached were Ahmed Muazu, the former Governor of Bauchi State; Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, former Governor of Sokoto State; Atiku Abubakar, former Vice-President; and Ibrahim Babangida former military President. ''Initially, these people were her friends but the relations between them deteriorated,'' sources said. 234next.com