A war of attrition is quietly raging in the Presidency between the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami over the constitution of the proposed Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The arrowhead in the contest of wit and influence is Nasir Danu, a billionaire who is one of the close allies of President Muhammadu Buhari and a known oil and gas business front for key members of the Buhari kitchen cabinet.
Danu was allegedly arrested at the Heathrow Airport in the United Kingdom in 2019 with a fake Malta Passport and more than £200,000.00 in cash, for which he was later deported to Nigeria.
Sources said the fight was triggered after Malami discovered that the list of nominees for NDDC Board sent to the National Assembly for screening and confirmation was doctored and different from the list contained in a memo he sent to President Buhari.
The AGF and Minister of Justice was said to have taken offence because the NDDC 2000 Act was not followed in the compilation of the nominees for NDDC Board, suggesting that some persons in the Presidency may have doctored the original list approved by the President.
Alhaji Danu was said to be the go-between in the scheme to undermine the President’s approval. Danu is known for dropping President Buhari’s name to get huge favours from key stakeholders in the petroleum sector including the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva.
Presidency insiders said Danu has aligned with Gambari and Sylva to outsmart Malami, whom sources said, was insisting that things should be done the right way and that the provisions of the NDDC Act should be followed.
Sources said despite protest from Malami, Gambari and Danu have moved fast to ensure that the Senate begins screening and confirmation exercises in earnest.
Sylva’s role in the game to outfox Malami was to provide logistics for the Senate Committee on NDDC and security agencies to commence the screening of the nominees.
It was gathered that the new Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Umana Okon Umana, was shut out from making an input into the list of nominees as most of the members were said to be nominated by his predecessor, Obong Godswill Akpabio.
Sylva was said to have facilitated the tweaking of President Buhari’s list using his liaison with Tunde Sabiu, a nephew of Buhari and one of his trusted aides; Gambari, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and Senate President, Ahmad Lawan.
President Buhari had on November 23 nominated Lauretta Onochie (Chairman) and 15 others as members of the NDDC Board. Their appointment is, however, subject to confirmation by the Senate.