By Ike Abonyi
“The Ministers are there, I think, to make a lot of noise; for politicians they make a lot of noise. But the work is being done by the technocrats” -Buhari’s France 24 interview.
The term henchmen is traceable to horse groomers in royal palaces in the olden days. It is a title of subordinate officials in a noble household. According to Wikipedia henchmen as we know it today are loyal employees, supporters, or aides to some powerful figure engaged in nefarious or criminal enterprises.
A henchman is typically relatively unimportant in the organization, a minion, whose value lies primarily in their unquestioning loyalty to their leader. The term is often used derisively (even comically) to refer to an individual of low status who lacks any moral compass of their own.
In this country henchmen are seen from slightly different perspective. They are the men behind the throne; they wield enormous powers although most times illegitimately since they often have no mandate except that they are always very close to the man with the mandate. In modern parlance they are called the President’s men. In Nigeria they enjoy plurality of names depending on the angle you are coming from-mafia, kitchen cabinet, cabals and lately jackals and hyenas. Whichever name you chose, the commonality is that they are henchmen at the corridor of power and you ignore them and their influence at your own peril. Infact, they draw-up register of friends and enemies of the President and government.
Nigerians have witnessed the influence of henchmen in successive governments. The weight of their influence on the polity is usually dependent on the character of their principal. Where the principal is strong and on top of his job, henchmen are not usually too visible but if the principal is handicapped either by health challenges, dearth of ideas or lack strong will, henchmen emerge to fill the vacuum.
That is why Nigerians have witnessed the enormous influence of henchmen