Before the evolution of the current Mafia that runs the country, many Nigerians came to agree with the notion that at a point in Nigeria’s history, no government enjoyed ruling the country without the backing of the Kaduna Mafia. That was when the Kaduna Mafia ran things in most sectors of the country. The group comprised of intellectuals, civil servants, military officers and businessmen residing or doing business in Kaduna and it came into prominence in the 1970s.
When General Obasanjo assumed the reins of power as Head of State in 1976, members of the clique occupied notable positions. Those who did not get appointments used their connections to get whatever they desired from the government. Street Journal found out that bank directors, big time businessmen and even senior civil servants were involved. Names like Shehu Yar’Adua usually came up whenever Kaduna Mafia was being discussed. Adamu Ciroma was also said to have had the support of the group when he ran against Shehu Shagari for the NPN’s presidential ticket in the Second Republic.
Then, it was evident that the Kaduna Mafia dictated the political direction of the country’s economy. Though the not all the members were directly in government, the well coordinated and efficient Kaduna Mafia had members who worked behind the scenes to determine Nigeria’s political and economic climate.
The power of the group seems to have however waned now that focus has shifted to Abuja where the seat of government is situated.
When General Ibrahim Babangida came on board, power changed hands. The most powerful men at the topmost echelon of the military happened to come from the same area. Before long, the Langtang Mafia came into prominence. Prominent among them were Babangida’s strong men who included Domkat Y. Bali, Joshua Dogonyaro, John Shagaya and Jerry Useni, all army Generals. They wielded so much power back then.
The New Mafia
Unlike the old Mafia groups that were region based, the new Mafia that holds sway in Nigeria now cuts across the geo political zones, assuming a “Federal Character” nature. Apart from cutting across ethnic barriers, the most lucrative sectors in the country have members of the mafia holding sway. At times, the country is held by the jugular by members of the infamous mafia clique just to achieve their aims.
In the business sector, Aliko Dangote, the Kano billionaire businessman who was voted by Forbes Magazine as Africa’s Richest Man is seen in some quarters as Nigeria’s de facto President. Dangote is one of the most influential and powerful Nigerians alive. This much was confirmed when Goodluck Jonathan administration chose to bestow a national honour hitherto reserved for past Presidents on him.
For years now, successive governments have learnt to associate with him. He has a firm grip on the commodity market.
It has also been noted that the Government looks up to him for some things, for instance, as Nigerians groaned under the high cost of cement, the President placated the citizens and Dangote was one of those called upon by the government to help bring prices down.
Femi Otedola, Dangote’s one time friend is another lord whose word is law in the business sector. He sure knows his way around. He owns a number of vessels and has his grip on the Diesel and Kerosene business in Nigeria. Though he was one of the businessmen who donated a million Naira each during the fundraiser for the electioneering campaign of Goodluck Jonathan before the Presidential elections, that was just on paper. Otedola and Abdulsamad Rabiu, a sugar merchant, were believed to have provided financial backbone for Goodluck Jonathan when he contested the PDP primary elections. They contributed about half a billion towards the primaries. They also funded the mobilization and logistics.
Apart from being named as a member of the cabal that runs the oil industry, Otedola’s company was named in the fuel subsidy scam.
Wale Tinubu, the CEO of Oando too is one of those who dictate how things run. He too was named as one of the top men in the infamous oil cabal.
Like before, the new Mafia has people in Government. One of the most prominent among them is the Minister for Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke. It has become clear to Nigerians in most sectors that as far as President Jonathan is concerned, Madueke can do no wrong. Even if she errs, the Petroleum Resources Minister who hails from the same state as the President goes unpunished.
While her Ministry has been tagged one of the most corrupt in the country, many believe she does not only oversee the rot, she is also a partaker.
It was at a point alleged that she used her position to personally raise funds for the electioneering campaign of the President in 2011. To some, that further explains why she is untouchable and everything she does ends up being acceptable to the Government.
Mentioning the clique that runs Nigeria without the name of Mike Oghiadohme, the President’s friend and Chief of Staff coming up will no doubt be erroneous. He and Dr. Jonathan became friends in their days as Deputy Governors of Edo and Bayelsa States respectively. In the Presidency, it is said that Oghiadohme’s word is law and he is one of those who determine who gets what in the present administration.
It is an open secret that the Senate President, David Mark too wields enormous powers, having consistently swung to wherever power swings in the country. Mark is running a fourth term as a Senator and he broke the jinx by becoming the first Senate President among many to run a full tenure of office. He was one of those tagged “Babangida Boys” in his days in the army.
He is the Executive’s main tool in influencing the Senate. It is also widely believed that he does “clean up” jobs for the government. It took him to change the mind of Labour Leaders during the fuel subsidy protests in January, 2012.
Of course David Bonaventure Mark is not a new person in the power game. He was the Commander of the Corps of Signal in the Nigeria Army and he was part of the Buhari administration under which he served as the military Governor of Niger State.
He was also there in the days of General Babangida, as the Minister for Communications; he was a member of Nigeria’s highest decision making body, the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC). In his days as Minister, he remarked that telephone services were not for the poor.
The Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi too is in a world of his own. Sanusi is perhaps the most controversial CBN Governor in recent times. Many still wonder if some of his moves were “solo runs” or in tandem with the policies of his employers. The average Nigerian saw him as a saint when he took on the National Assembly over the percentage of the budget that accrues to the legislators alone. That however changed when the CBN took over some banks and the sale of those banks were found questionable.
Princess Stella Oduah is one of the known power brokers in the present administration. Her ex-husband, Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi was the Minister of State for Works. Her quota to the electioneering campaign of President Jonathan was done through the “Neighbour to Neighbour” campaign which she coordinated. She also doubled as the Director of Administration and Finance of the Goodluck Jonathan campaign organisation. It was payback time after the elections as she became the Minister for Aviation.
Apart from being a member of the Federal Executive Council, Princess Oduah is a big time player in the oil sector. After working at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for 9 years, she left to form Sea Petroleum and Gas Company, one of the firms named in the oil subsidy scandal that blew open late last year.
The Minister for Niger Delta, Godsday Orubebe too has risen to become a man of power and one of the members of the President’s “inner caucus”. He has the ears of the President anytime. He served as the Minister for Special Duties before he was appointed as the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, one of the ministries held as “sensitive” by the Nigerian Government. His ministry oversees the training of the pardoned militants from the Niger Delta.
When Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was nominated for a ministerial position by President Jonathan, what came to the mind of many Nigerians was the role she played when she led a delegation to the Paris Group to get debt forgiveness for Nigeria. Interestingly, the same woman who led the team that paid up the country’s debt is advocating that the country needs to borrow. She is advocating for a $ 7.9 billion loan.
In Ijaw land where the President comes from, Chief Edwin Clarke is regarded as the leader. Over time, they have become very close and he has assumed the position of the President’s political father. He defends everything that has to do with Goodluck Jonathan with utmost vigour.
And whether one likes it or not, Mr. President’s former boss, Chief DSP Alamieyesegha is still a man of power. Apart from being a beneficiary of political goodwill, Alams is allowed unhindered access to the Villa. He is also in charge as far as Bayelsa State is concerned. He is one of those ensuring that things run well in the President’s home state.
Needless to say the members of the group know how to get the President’s assent in all they do.