LOBBYISTS and strategists are pushing for the split of the Office of the Chief of Staff (CoS) into two.

This is ahead of the appointment of a new occupant to replace Mallam Abba Kyari, who died last Friday after testing positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Those pushing for the split have recommended the creation of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff (DCoS).

Although some forces have made a strong case for the scrapping of the CoS Office, most strategists of the President have opted for its retention.

It was also learned that some of the lobbyists have tipped former Nasarawa State Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura (now a senator) and Mallam Mahmud Ahmed Yayale, a former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HoCSF) as a replacement for the late Kyari.

President Buhari was said to be consulting on all available options.

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the enormous responsibilities given to a CoS are overwhelming with a lot of health implications.

It was learned that some of the lobbyists felt the tasks shouldered by the former CoS allegedly compounded his underlying health factors because he worked round the clock.

According to findings, the heavy workload on a CoS accounted for many acting appointments in some Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), including the Federal Character Commission (FCC).

About 80 federal agencies were without substantive operational heads or governing boards, or both.

The lobbyists, however, suggested the appointment of a DCoS to reduce the pressure on a CoS.

A reliable source, who spoke with our correspondent, said: “There are three options available to the President namely, retaining the structure of the Chief of Staff as it is, having a Chief of Staff with a deputy; or scrapping the office.

“All the options are not new but the format depends on the focus of the President. For instance, when Maj-Gen. Abdullahi Mohammed was the Chief of Staff to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007, a respected diplomat, Amb. Aderemi Esan was his deputy.

 

“On his part, the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua scrapped the office of the Chief of Staff in 2008 and subjected the management of the Presidential Villa to a combination of civil servants and a Principal Secretary.

“While it is left to the President to take a final decision, some lobbyists have made a strong case for the appointment of a Chief of Staff and a deputy to fast-track decision-making process.”

It was unclear when Buhari will appoint his CoS, but more people are now in the frame to bring the tally to 15.

The latest candidates being recommended are Senator Al-Makura and Yayale Ahmed.

Another source added: “More candidates are emerging amid intense lobbying by power brokers. We now have about 15 jostling to be Chief of Staff, including Al-Makura and Yayale.

“Typical of him, Buhari has kept everyone in suspense on his next line of action. We are waiting for his choice or decision on what to do with the office.

“The latest candidates are Al-Makura and Yayale, who are considered as “dark horses.

“Al-Makura, who is personally respected and loved by the President, has been in politics since 1980 when he was elected as the youth leader of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the old Plateau State.

“As a trained teacher with a degree in Education, Al-Makura has been a loyalist of Buhari such that in 2011, he was the only candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) who was elected as a governor.

”With his rich background as a businessman, those pushing for him feel he could assist the President on economic policies.

“Born on April 15, 1952, the 68-year old Yayale has a rich experience in the public service to occupy the office.

”In spite of the fact that Yayale was one of the unseen forces behind the emergence of Buhari in 2015, his major problem with the ruling class is that he did not stay on the course.

“He was said to have joined hands with other elite in Bauchi in 2019 to unseat the APC governor, Mohammed Abubakar. So, he is seen more as a candidate from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“Those lobbying for him strongly believe that Yayale prefers to operate on the basis of principles than partisan politics. This is why he is rated as “Mr. Civil Servant”.

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