There are prominent and highly placed Nigerians who decide who gets what and why as far as it is within Africa’s most populated country.
They are men of power, means, influence and authority. They understand the landscape; the intricacies, uses and gains of wielding and dispensing from their vast and rich tanks. On the turf of business, in politics, the military or civil service, their names draw awe, love, inspiration, admiration, hatred and spite, depending on the viewer’s side-view.
1. President Muhammadu Buhari
Whether in or out of power, he has remained a major force in the country and an opinion moulder.
Though particularly not popular in the Southern part of the country, he is like a movement in the northern part of the country where he comes from. Since 1984 when he first emerged as the Head of State during the military era, his image continued to loom large until last year when he defeated his predecessor, President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which was then the main opposition party.
2. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
You will be toying with your political career and destiny, if you ignore him in the game of political gerrymandering in this country. With Obasanjo, Nigeria’s former military head of state (1976-1979) and, later, civilian President (1999 – 2007), the more you look, the less you see. People say he is selfish, mean and mischievous. The truth of it depends on who is assessing him. But love him or hate him, even at 79, you cannot ignore OBJ as an inimitable power broker in today’s Nigeria. It was for nothing that he was bestowed with that all-encompassing title: Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).
3. General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd)
For anybody who has followed the course of events in Nigeria since the emergence of General Abdulsalam Abubakar as the nation’s eighth military Head of State, there is no gainsaying that the Niger State born retired army officer has been a major factor in the country. On June 9, 1998, Abubakar became Nigeria’s military Head of State after being persuaded to accept the position when General Sani Abacha died. Despite his taciturn disposition, he is one of those who, since the death of Abacha, have determined the fate of the nation. He became one of the leading statesmen in Nigeria since May 29, 1999 when he transfered power to the civilian government in keeping with an early promise he made when he took over power.
4. General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd)
That General Theophilus Danjuma is a power broker in Nigeria is not contestable and it is for obvious reasons. He is a successful career military officer, strategist, consummate industrialist and one of the leading investors in the nation’s oil industry. There is no doubt that in the nation’s chequered political history, he is one man that could be said to have seen it all. Many are sure to agree that it would be impossible to take any major political decision on the future of Nigeria without the contribution of the retired Taraba State-born army officer. He has participated in virtually every political era in the last five decades. Since the 1966 counter coup, which changed the nation’s power equation and history, Danjuma has remained very prominent in the affairs of the country.
General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd)
5. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd)
Many years after IBB left power, power has refused to leave IBB. Hence, the overarching influence he wields from Minna, Niger state, his hometown, on Nigeria’s reins of power. Recall, for instance, the noble role he played in the installation of Obasanjo, as Nigeria’s civilian President, from 1999 to 2007. At 75, and 23 years after leaving power, he still remains a kingmaker, in fact, unarguably, Nigeria’s topmost political landlord. Unlike the military governments before and after him, he brought a kind of consultative aura to governance by subjecting issues to public debate, after which he took the final decision.
6. General Aliyu Gusau (rtd)
He is a man who has served his country in various military capacities as one-time Chief of Army Staff, National Security Adviser to two different presidents, Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy, and most recently, Minister of Defence. As a security intelligence chief and political bridge-builder, Gusau definitely knows Nigeria well. He re-organised the security and intelligence apparatuses, by breaking up the NSO into three organisations: State Security Services (SSS, now Department of State Security, DSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI). In the rush for political power in Nigeria, you can only underrate him to your own detriment!
7. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu
Tinubu has emerged as one of the finest political strategists in the land. He had been in the trenches since the days of the National Democratic Coalition [NADECO], one of the platforms that put pressure on Abacha. Tinubu rode on the crest of his role in that era, into Lagos government house. He has since emerged, perhaps, the strongest political force in the South West. His political influence has exceeded Lagos, where he literally lifted his successor, Babatunde Fashola, from the booth strap and made him governor. Against all odds , Tinubu has again made another protege, Akinwumi Ambode, the governor, after Fashola. But his greatest political feat is the ascendancy of the Buhari regime. He was the arrowhead of the coalition of four political parties that coalesced into All Progressives Congress [APC] and brought the Buhari government to power in May, 2015.
8. Alhaji Aliko Dangote
Alhaji Aliko Dangote [GCON] grew a small trading firm he began in 1977 into one of the largest conglomerates in the African continent. Dangote’s influence is not limited to the business arena, where Forbes Magazine, has ranked him as the 30th richest man in the world. He is a silent but influential player in the political arena. He funds many presidential candidates and has the ears of political leaders. He influences policies and thus ranks high in the league of those who decide policy and political direction. Dangote is in the class of people who shape and determine policy, business and political direction of Nigeria. He is in the league of those who control Nigeria.