Buhari, Osinbajo and a fractured Presidency
Too often, tales from Aso Rock, Nigeria’s Presidential Seat of Power, are mired in risky power plays, intrigues and sinister ploys, giving rise to speculations and reasons for the public to believe anything. Sources controlling the narratives ensure that facts remain sketchy, while parties involved pretend to hold their fortes and real issues are buried in denial.
At the centre of this controversies is a vindictive cabal with contrived schemes, and extra-constitutional powers it has appropriated to itself to hire and fire. From the President's wife being insulted and disregarded by his relatives to the Vice President being humiliated, time and again, by the cabal; there is cause to reckon that something fundamentally wrong is gaining relevance at the nation's corridors of power.
Although Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has been protective of the Presidency over the rifts and now frequent attempts to strip him of his powers, he cannot deny the presence of an evasive force in Aso Rock plotting his downfall, whose activities have become too glaring to be worn with glosses of normalcy. It is even more worrisome to normalised such violations to his office and treat them as nonissues when they actually impact on the root of the country's democracy.
It became apparent that some persons were picking on Osinbajo to undo him after his first shot at acting capacity while President Muhammadu Buhari was away in London on a medical vacation. All decisions taken during the period were overturned with the unholy episode climaxing in the ouster of Former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Members of the famed cabal in the Presidency allegedly became bitter about the role played by the Vice President on the emergence of Onnoghen as the substantive Chief Justice of Nigeria and the removal of Lawal Daura as the Director-General of the Department of State Services, DSS.
Barely a year after, Buhari constituted an economic advisory council in September 2019 replacing the economic management team which was headed by Osinbajo, with an instruction for the Vice President to seek approvals for agencies under his supervision.
What the directive implied was that Osinbajo had to seek approvals for contract awards, annual reports, annual accounts, power to borrow, and power to make regulations, among other key functions, a move many interpreted as targeted to undermine the office of the vice president.
But push came to shove, last week, when Osinbajo’s top aides were fired by the Presidency on the excuse of streamlining decision-making, cutting down multiple authorities and reducing the cost of the administration.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who confirmed their sack in a statement on Friday, did not indicate if the downsizing affected all agencies of government.
This is exactly where the problem lies; the targeting and victimization of an office and attempting to whip up public sentiments to justify it.
We must state that offices of Nigeria's President and Vice President derive their legitimacy from the constitution, the country's grand norm, with all the obligations, rights and privileges appertaining.
Therefore, the vice president should not be at the mercy of the president or any of his aides. What is happening to Osinbajo is humiliating and must be condemned by all lovers of democracy.
Since the Presidency has denied any rift between the first citizens and maintained that Osinbajo’s constitutional powers were not curtailed as alleged, and his paraphernalia of office fully intact, it must be seen to walk the talk in the manner it treats the office of the VP.
To be fair to Osinbajo, his loyalty to Buhari is beyond words, and in him, the President obviously has a dependable ally. That the president finds it convenient to strip him of so many things in quick succession, leaves many with permutations for 2023.
Pundits maintain that the continuous targeting of Osinbajo is not unconnected with calculations to make him irrelevant and discouraged from vying for the Presidency in 2023. Again, if that is true, it would amount to an infringement on his right to vote and be voted for, and should be condemned by all Nigerians.
© 2015 The Abuja Inquirer | Newspaper. Designed by G E Springfield