Despite pressure from some forces, including members of his kitchen cabinet, President Muhammadu Buhari has foreclosed the reinstatement of sacked Department of State Services (DSS) Director-General Lawal Daura, The Nation has learnt.
Some of the lobbyists, it was learnt, trailed the President to London to mount pressure for the reversal of Daura’s sack. He was relieved of his duties by then Acting President Yemi Osinbajo
Those against the ex-security chief’s return argued that his sack saved the nation’s democracy and boosted the Buhari administration’s democratic credentials.
The battle has since shifted to the Presidency, over the search for a new Director-General.
Some favour the retention of the office in the North. Many want acting DG Mathew Seiyefa to be confirmed to prove a point that the President has a national outlook.
The argument for Seiyefa is borne out of his having less than one year to retire. He has spent 34 years in service.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The forces pushing for Daura’s reinstatement have lost the battle because the President has foreclosed his return.
“The President has no plans to bring back Daura under any guise. He believes this administration is one and will not overrule his deputy. He is a man of discipline and not an ethnic bigot.
“What happened is that some ministers, a few kitchen cabinet members and influential people close to the President sneaked into London to meet with Buhari to overturn Daura’s sack.
“They alleged that Prof. Yemi Osinbajo sacked Daura before informing the President who was on vacation, said the source, who added:
“They were not aware that the President and the Vice President had discussed the fate of Daura and some security chiefs at least two weeks before the President proceeded on vacation in London. The two leaders had agreed on the need to effect a few changes.
“Osinbajo acted in line with the template set by his boss and acted appropriately.”
It was leaent that while in London, “a former Head of State and a minister in the kitchen cabinet advised the President to ignore these influential forces pushing for Daura’s return in view of the democratic mileage the administration scored with his removal after the unauthprised invasion of the National Assembly by hooded DSS operatives.
“The ex-Head of State warned on the diplomatic and international implications of reinstating Daura. The Minister also minced no words in confronting those who wanted the ex-DG back in office.”
A source in government also gave insights into Daura’s removal.
The source said “while it is true that the Vice President sacked Daura before informing the President, it was in line with the earlier decision by the two leaders to tinker with the security apparatchik.
“There was a template which the President would have worked on after the vacation which Osinbajo implemented. Osinbajo informed the President of the action he took and the President endorsed it because the Presidency is one.”
“So, when Daura acted against democratic norms, he was invited to the Presidential Villa by the Acting President. While seated in a part of Osinbajo’s office, waiting to see the VP, his removal.
“He was then escorted out of the back exit of the VP’s wing to a safe house for debriefing. There were no altercations in any manner between the VP and Daura.”
On the sucession matter, a security source said: “It is either the retention of Seiyefa or appointment of a new person as the substantive DG. For Seiyefa, who has less than a year left in service, this is the second time, he will be closer to clinching the job.”
Seiyefa In 2010, he lost to former DG Ita Ekpenyong, who was said to have been preferred by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Some “forces” are said to be pushing for a northern candidate to succeed Daura, but others in the kitchen cabinet have made a strong case for Seiyefa to prove a point that Buhari has a national character contrary to the accusation by some politicians that he is an ethnic bigot.
“ Seiyefa and three other Deputy Directors-General in the DSS are eminently qualified for the job. But Seiyefa is the most senior and for a service where hierarchy matters, he is first among equals,” the source said, noting however that “if Buhari goes out of the service to pick a new DG, it might lead to his exit and that of other three Deputy Directors-General”.