If President Muhammadu Buhari had his way, he would split Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) into two — make one half the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the other half the chief of staff at the presidency.
Associates of the president have informed TheCable that such is Buhari’s trust in Ali’s competence and character that he is now torn over the role the former military governor of Kaduna state should play in his administration.
Ali served as chief of staff to Buhari during the presidential campaign and has been acting in that position since the president was inaugurated, fuelling media speculations that he would be retained. Some even reported on Monday that Ali had been appointed, although this is still at the realm of speculation.
Known for his discipline, loyalty and man-management skills, Ali has functioned very well as chief of staff, co-ordinating and managing the personnel working with Buhari in the last few years.
He was in the military police all through his career in the Nigerian army and was known as a “no-nonsense” officer who once served as provost marshal.
“He is a loyalist of the president and has been with him even when things were not going their way. It is this genuineness that draws Buhari to him. As a manner of speaking, you can say Buhari can trust Ali with his life,” one of the sources told TheCable.
Another source added: “Buhari is loyal to his old associates whom he considers to be more reliable and committed to the cause, compared to the latter-day politicians whose values are questionable. He is very skeptical about new associates who are typical Nigerian politicians looking for appointments for selfish reasons.”
However, Ali, who clocked 60 in January, is also described as “incorruptible” — a trait which further endears him to Buhari who is seeking a dependable anti-graft Czar to head the EFCC.
The EFCC Act provides that a serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent can be appointed chairman. The person must also possess not less than 15 years cognate experience.
The tenure of the current chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde, will expire in 2016.
“Buhari believes Ali would be ideal for the EFCC. He thinks he can go to sleep with someone like Ali heading the anti-graft war, considering that this is a major yardstick by which Buhari would be judged by Nigerians at the end of it all,” the source added.
Ali, who governed Kaduna state from 1996 to 1998, has been driving the same car since he was retired in 1999 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo — along with other military officers who had held political appointments.
His modesty and absence of materialism recommend him for the EFCC job, but TheCable understands that Ali, a one-time secretary-general of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), would rather work with Buhari as chief of staff.
Buhari is expected to announce the appointments of his key personal staff in the next few days.