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President Muhammadu Buhari has downplayed the claims that certain individuals among his aides and relatives, often called “cabals,” have an influence on his government.

“I was the one who went round the country on campaigns, and I was the one voted into office as President, twice. No one else did, and no one else took the oath of office, and can exercise the powers of a President,” Mr Buhari said when he fielded questions in an exclusive interview with The Interview Newspaper.

Many Nigerians, prominent among whom is the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, have claimed that there is a ‘cabal,’ whose influence on the decisions taken by Mr Buhari and the presidency, is immense.

Mrs Buhari, at several instances, had accused these people of controlling her husband at the expense of Nigerians, who entrusted Mr Buhari with their mandate.

Those routinely fingered as members of the cabal include the president’s relative, Mamman Daura; his associate, Isa Funtua; and his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari.

Recently too, Mrs Buhari asked an aide to the president, Garba Shehu, to resign or be relieved of his position after she accused Mr Shehu of receiving instructions from the said cabals much to the detriment of her husband and the first family.

Mr Shehu had also admitted the existence of cabal within the inner cycle of the presidency. He maintained that they are not “hungry people”; rather, they are “respectable people who deserve respect because they have achieved a lot.”

Unlike Mr Shehu, however, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, described the existence of a group of people called cabal as “myth.”

Economic team

Mr Buhari was further asked why not much has been heard from the Doyin Salami-led Economic Advisory Council after its inauguration last October. He assured that the committee is fulfilling its mandate in the background and results would soon be seen.

“They don’t have to play to the gallery in doing their work,” Mr Buhari was quoted saying, adding: “They don’t have to do it on the pages of newspapers, but rest assured that they are working quietly and efficiently. Results are what matter, and you will see their influence on our economic policies in due course.”

On his promise to lift 100 million Nigerians from poverty in ten years in the face of surging population growth, the president reaffirmed his administration’s resolve to meet the target with an assurance that he would hand over the baton to a successor.

Asked to describe his relationship with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, he responded, “Perfect. Or has he complained to you?”

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