Notwithstanding public appearances and statements to the contrary, political permutations and maneuvering for the 2023 presidential race may have finally come between the national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.
This became glaring following some developments in the presidency, which appeared to have reduced the influence of the VP within government. About three weeks ago, government agencies under the supervision of Vice President Osinbajo were directed to be seeking their approvals from the President, and same period, the Prof. Doyin Salami-led economic advisory council was set up to replace the Osinbajo-led economic management team. A presidential directive sacking the VP’s aides from the villa capped that; they are now to operate from a rented apartment in the Abuja metropolis.
While there have been many political interpretations given to the gathering storm, ranging from alleged complicity in some activities to attempts to shove him aside or whittle down his influence ahead of 2023, Saturday Sun gathered exclusively that the storm the VP is battling against is three-pronged.
Trouble began for the brilliant professor of law when some officials working with him were fingered in the purchase of some houses abroad especially the United States. It was learnt that in all, the VP has about 80 officials as aides. With the exception of a few, most of the aides were being paid salaries by agencies under the supervision of the Vice President’s office.
A probe of the development was said to have absolved Osinbajo of any complicity in the activities of some of the indicted aides. This, those opposed to the VP in APC, government and within the opposition ranks twisted against him.
Presidential sources disclosed that this was responsible for the decision to relocate over 70 officials working with the VP from Aso Rock villa to a rented apartment within the capital city as well as the issuance of the directive to seek President Buhari’s approval by certain agencies under the direct supervision of the VP.
For Osinbajo and Tinubu, the relationship started going down south when the APC leader and former governor of Lagos state began to get feelers that the number two citizen might equally be nursing the ambition to succeed his boss in 2023. The latter is believed to have nominated the former for his current position in the run-up to the 2015 presidential election. Some persons close to Tinubu were said to have made some snipe remarks about the suspected ambition of the VP to the hearing of security agents in an open discussion at the 11th Bola Tinubu birthday colloquium held March in Abuja, an incident that later became part of a security report on the programme.
It was further gathered that Tinubu has not been too pleased with the VP because he has not been consulting him on a number of issues, while “some of their people in government like the FIRS man have been working more towards the political ambition of the VP than that of Asiwaju.” The APC leader was said to have been restrained by friends and aides from releasing a press statement endorsing recent presidential actions viewed as whittling down the VP’s influence before jetting out to London over a week ago.
He equally has a Buhari ally and former governor of the state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun to contend with. All the major federal political appointments going to Ogun since the inauguration of President Buhari’s second term in May had been clinched by persons nominated by Amosun. For instance, Amosun’s childhood friend and Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure during his eight-year term as governor of Ogun, Olamilekan Adegbite, was recently appointed the Minister of Mine and Steel Development.
Amosun has also succeeded in pushing his ally, Adeleke Moronfolu Adewolu, to be appointed as the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Engagement, at the Nigerian Communications Commission. He replaced Sunday Dare, who is now the Minister of Youths and Sports Development. Adewolu had contested but lost the House of Representatives seat in Ifo/Ewekoro Federal Constituency on the platform of APM, a party openly supported by Amosun. In addition, Amosun has been able to push for his former Commissioner for Agric and Urban and Physical Planning, Mrs Ronke Sokefun, to be appointed as the chairman of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Three weeks ago, President Buhari constituted an economic advisory council and named Prof Doyin Salami as chairman. Salami, from Ijebu Ode, Ogun state, is Amosun’s close friend. Few days before his appointment, he was in Owo, Ondo state with Amosun for Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s daughter’s wedding ceremony.
Meanwhile, a top official in the VP’s office, who preferred anonymity, told Saturday Sun “ The vice president can’t be seen to be a local champion. Yes, his camp produced the governor of Ogun State and you must also remember that Amosun’s relationship with the president predates the APC. They were together in ANPP and, since the vice president’s camp has produced the governor, it was only fair that Amosun’s camp nominate for other appointments. Appointments are at the president’s discretion.”
Asked why Tinubu is yet to publicly defend Osinbajo, the official replied: “People are free to make extrapolations based on their interests. Besides, some of these issues are better sorted locally. Now, let’s remember that whenever (former President Jonathan) Goodluck had any issues with Sambo, did they discuss it publicly? Any issue will still be resolved locally.”
Speaking on record however, Senior Technical Assistant on Media to the Vice President, Louis Odion denied some aides were indicted in any probe set up by the presidency. He said: “I think President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo deserve not to be distracted in their efforts to find solutions to our numerous national problems with rumour mongering like this.
“I am glad you said a panel set up absolved the Vice President. I don’t know of any secret probe. I only know of a committee of the House of Representatives that looked into the funds spent by NEMA and it came out with a report that the Vice President was above board. You need to understand that Professor Osinbajo is a man of impeccable integrity who is very loyal to his boss and has the fear of God and whose guiding principle in public office is to serve the interest of the greatest number. To answer your question directly, I am not aware of any secret probe of any of his aides or their indictment.”
While also responding to the issue of some VP aides being paid salaries by agencies under the office, Odion said “I doubt if such is impossible. You need to understand that it is a single presidency. We all are appointees of President Buhari. Civil servants are under the head of service while the Secretary to the Government of the Federation signs letters of employment for political appointees. It is only after you are engaged that you get deployed in the office, department or agency where your service is needed. Salaries are paid through a unified system. In fact, through reforms introduced by the Buhari administration, tens of thousand of ghost workers have been weeded out of the system. This was achieved through the integrated payroll system.”
Reacting to the removal of 70 out of the over 80 aides working with the VP from the Villa, Odion said: “I think President Muhammadu Buhari offered sufficient clarity to this in his October 1 national broadcast. The government thought it necessary to create a new ministry to respond to new realities and dynamics. I think there is a consensus today that the social investment programme, which has been supervised by Vice President Osinbajo in the last three years, has been quite impactful and beneficial to a large segment of our population. “The TraderMoni and MarketMoni initiatives have benefitted more than two million Nigerians. The school feeding programme has touched more than 10 million pupils in public schools across the country.
Also, the conditional cash transfer has offered succour directly to more than 600,000 vulnerable Nigerians.
“These programmes were incubated and nurtured under the Vice President. Until now, these initiatives were more like interventionist. Now, what President Buhari has done is to try and institutionalise them. To this end, a ministry has been created called Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development. So, the implication is that officers or aides as you call them, whose duties or responsibilities pertain to the agencies I earlier mentioned, are to be moved to another location where the ministry is constituted.”
BREAKING: Senate Approves Buhari’s Request To Increase VAT
The senate has approved the request by President Muhammadu Buhari to increase value added tax (VAT) from 5 percent to 7.5 percent.
The senate approved the request after Solomon Olamilekan, chairman of the finance committee, presented a report on a bill entitled ‘Nigeria tax and fiscal law’.
In September, the federal executive council (FEC) approved an increase in VAT and sent a bill to the national assembly for consent.
BREAKING: Court Sacks Kano New Emirs
A Kano High Court sitting in Kano State has nullified the four Emirates created in the state by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje. Justice Usman Naába in his judgment on Thursday, held that the creation of the Emirates and appointment of four first Emirs was illegal.
Bayelsa Guber: Pressure Mounts On PDP Chairman, Secondus To Resign
National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Prince Uche Secondus is under intense pressure to vacate office over alleged constitutional breaches, misappropriation of funds and failure to lead the party to victory in the 2015 and 2019 general elections.
Uche Secondus has also allegedly failed to call for major meetings of the various organs of the party including the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting which is the second highest decision-making organ of the party.
Daily Trust reports that the pressure is coming from PDP leaders and groups within the party. A former Special Adviser on Public Affairs, to President Goodluck Jonathan and member of the defunct Presidential Campaign Council for Atiku Abubakar, Malam Nasir Zahradeen, confirmed to our correspondent last night that majority of PDP stalwarts and power brokers were demanding for Secondus’ resignation.
“Secondus must go and he must be investigated by the EFCC, ICPC and the SSS because of the alleged impropriety, alleged putting of his hands on the funds of the party which is unacceptable. “You cannot say whether the other members of the NWC are doing well or they are not doing well. But if the head is rotten, definitely, you don’t expect any action from the rest
“Now we have lost the Kogi and Bayelsa elections. On Bayelsa, he (Secondus) connived with the governor. Apparently, the governor had his own idea of getting his kinsman to be the governor while he will get the senatorial seat,” he said. Similarly, a highly placed source from the North West, who sought not to be named, passed a vote of no confidence on Secondus, saying he cannot guarantee victory for the party any more.
“We all had confidence in Secondus when he emerged. But later we discovered there were issues that we did not envisage. The leadership of Prince Secondus has several lapses and breaches of the constitution of the PDP. “For instance, from the very time we lost the 2019 elections, I doubt if there has been any NEC or caucus meeting to discuss the issues and that is weighing us down.
“If they can’t deliver us today, how can we be sure they will deliver us tomorrow? Actually, I cannot ask the other members of the NWC to resign but sincerely, Secondus should resign because I doubt if he is willing to get us to the Promised Land. He should resign,” he said.
But the Special Adviser on Media to Secondus, Mr. Ike Abonyi, dismissed the allegations in a telephone chat with our correspondent, saying the party had more serious issues to discuss on the threat to democracy. “The allegations are baseless and unsubstantiated. Let them provide evidence that Secondus is a thief; that he dipped his hands into the party’s funds.
“The constitution says one NEC meeting to one quarter. And between February and now, he called NEC meetings three times. So he has not violated the PDP Constitution,” he said. Spokesperson of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan also dispelled claims that Secondus was under pressure to vacate office.
“The National Chairman is not under any pressure except the fact that we believe that democracy is gradually being killed by this government and we believe that as the main opposition party we have a responsibility to salvage democracy,” he said.
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