What The North Has Against VP OSINBAJO
Oct. 06, 2019
These are bad times for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. In the last few weeks, his office has been under serious attack over one accusation or the other with Osinbajo himself fighting back. The crisis has now become a hot topic of debate for many analysts.
The recent rumours of conflict between himself and President Buhari also became hot gist when Buhari, a few weeks ago, decided to dissolve Osinbajo’s economic management team, replacing it with Economic Advisory Council, which is to report to the President.
The President also removed VP Osinbajo’s Chairmanship of NEMA (National Emergency Management Agency), NDPHC (Niger Delta Power Holding Company).
Secondly, we shouldn’t also forget that VP Osinbajo was alleged to have squandered funds on election campaigns, an allegation which has been denied by the Vice President.
Since their joint victory in 2015, President Buhari and his vice, Yemi Osinbajo had shared a warm relationship and everything seemed to have been intact until recently. Many feel that it is the cabal in the Aso-Villa that is bent on sowing seeds of discord into the smooth relationship, for their own selfish interest.
This powerful cabal is alleged to have a stranglehold on the Buhari government. Many people have frowned at the fact that although the cabal members were not elected by the masses, they are now the ones running the affairs of the country. The wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, once lamented that the cabal had hijacked her husband’s government.
The cabal successfully penetrated the seat of power and their word is now law and anyone who dares to go against their interest is immediately stopped. Their influence is such that they would stop anyone from seeing the President no matter how highly placed the person is and no matter the urgency of the situation. The cabal’s strong grip on the levers of the administration is so stiff that in virtually all President Buhari’s appointments, he has a significant input.
It is said that the cabal in the Villa is implacably opposed to the idea of a power shift to the South and are plotting to have Yemi Osinbajo sidelined in the 2023 presidential race because his name has frequently and prominently featured in the 2023 presidential permutations, though the vice president is yet to make any comment about running for president. Osinbajo slowly but steadily has won the hearts of many Northerners and this has become a threat to the 2023 ambition of the cabal members and they will do anything to truncate that.
VP OSINBAJO’S ALLEGED SINS
Ironically, decisions that made Osinbajo popular among the masses when he acted as President while President Buhari was away on medical vacation in the UK, angered the cabal members. During that period, the positive changes announced by the acting President could be felt by Nigerians and even the naira appreciated against the dollar. Many even wished that Buhari should stay longer in the UK, while his vice continue running Nigeria.
The first “unforgivable” sin was the confirmation of Justice Walter Onnoghen as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN). Walter Onnoghen was the first Southerner to be appointed into the position of CJN in nearly 30 years. Mr. Onnoghen, a native of Cross River state, was first appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as acting CJN on November 10, 2016 after the retirement of a former CJN, Mahmoud Mohammed. When it was clear that his role as acting CJN would expire without confirmation, Osinbajo forwarded his name to the senate for confirmation.
It did not go down well with the cabal and they eventually plotted Onnoghen’s removal in an unconstitutional manner before the general elections. His independent-mindedness is said to have scared the cabal. Onnoghen had presided over Supreme Court judgments that did not favour the cabal, notably that of the former President of the Senate Bukola Saraki. Onnoghen was accused of not declaring his assets and was suspended in a controversial circumstance.
Sack of a former Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura was another move by the VP, which blacklisted him in the cabals book. Mr. Daura was one of the untouchables and a member of the cabal. When it was discovered that the former DSS’ boss spear-headed the invasion of the National Assembly to allegedly effect a change of leadership, Osinbajo ordered his sack and went ahead to appoint Matthew Seiyafa from Bayelsa State as Acting DSS Director General.
Mr. Seiyefa was the most senior official at the SSS after Mr Daura with about 34 years experience and he had earlier served in different capacities. Mr Seiyafa’s tenure as the DSS boss was brief as he was quickly removed by President Buhari and replaced with Yusuf Bichi, who had already retired. Presidency sources noted that the Vice President was not forgiven for daring to move so decisively against Daura.
Vice President Osinbajo also presided over the Special Presidential Panel that indicted the former Secretary to the government of the federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, for the Grass-cutting contract scandal leading to his sack from office and replacement by his cousin, Mr. Boss Mustapha.
Another Osinbajo’s misdeed in the cabal was his public denial of RUGA policy. Ruga is said to be the brainwork of the core Northern’s book elite and an attempt to tighten their grip on the nation by settling their people in every local council in the federation. However, the plan failed, especially in the southern state when Osinbajo denied any knowledge of the scheme.
STRATEGIES TO UNDERMINE THE VP
There is a desperation, on the part of the cabal to whittle the power of The office of Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, and ultimately humiliate him and the plans have gathered momentum in recent days. This explains the recent corruption allegations levelled in a bid to tarnish Osinbajo’s image. But Osinbajo fought back vigorously.
On September 16, President Muhammadu Buhari replaced the Economic Management Team (EMT) headed by the Vice President with an Economic Advisory Council (EAC) under the chairmanship of Prof. Doyin Salami.
Announcing the constitution of the EAC in a statement, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said: “the Economic Advisory Council will advise the President on economic policy matters, including fiscal analysis, economic growth and a range of internal and global economic issues, working with the relevant cabinet members and heads of monetary and fiscal agencies.”
He also said, the council will be reporting directly to the President.
Under different administration since the advent of democracy in 1999, Vice Presidents had been heading the economic team of the president and it was unconstitutional for the president to strip the VP of the responsibility.
Also, President Buhari has instructed Osinbajo to henceforth seek approval for decisions on agencies under his supervision. Osinbajo is the chairman of the governing boards of the National Emergency Management Agency, the National Boundary Commission, the Border Communities Development Agency and the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Ltd.
With the directive, he will now have to seek approval for contract awards, annual reports, annual accounts, power to borrow, and power to make regulations among other key functions. This is supposed to be the number two man in the federation.
Other actions that have been taken to humiliate the Vice President include the sack of his associates from government and the plan not to renew the tenure of the present Chairman of the Federal Internal Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babtunde Fowler. Mr Fowler was a member of Osinbajo Economic Management Team.
PLAN TO TARNISH VP OSINBAJO
In August 2019, the Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Mr. Babatunde Fowler, got a query from Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari. The query issued to the agency’s boss had to do with the alleged inability of the agency to meet revenue projection target.
The Chief of Staff also requested the FIRS Chairman to explain significant variances in targets and actual collections. There are those who believe that the query was just a ploy to ridicule Fowler and tarnish Osinbajo’s reputation by the cabal. The cabal’s interest in Fowler was because of his closeness to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Osinbajo himself. Remember that both Osinbajo & Fowler were classmates at Igbobi College in those good old days.
As the plot to retain power in the North come 2023 thickens, the cabal who see Osinbajo as a threat to their greedy and reckless ambition have made it a duty to strip him of even peripheral responsibilities and consigned him to the desk of irrelevance or to sidetrack him and put him on the role of condolence visits and food-sampling in markets.
They also want to frustrate the suspected presidential ambition of Osinbajo and paint him a corrupt person who should not be trusted by the political class.
– ISAAC ABIMBADE, with additional info from The African Progressive Economist
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