ABUJA—AS the list of 35 sacked aides of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, became public, yesterday, the polity was awash with mixed views on the development and how to prevent it from developing into a national crisis.
Among the sacked aides, according The Cable, are Jibola Ajayi, daughter of Abiola Ajimobi, immediate past governor of Oyo State; and and Babajide, grandson of late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
In spite of the Presidency’s claims to the contrary, the polity is enveloped by mutterings of perceived fissures between President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo and moves to whittle down the influence of the Number Two man.
However, the Vice-President’s media aide, Laolu Akande in said on his Twitter handle that the list of sacked aides “is not genuine and should be ignored.” He, however, did not give another list.
Recently, the president asked the vice president to seek approvals for agencies under his supervision, and moved the National Social Investment Programme from the Office of the Vice President to a new ministry. Also, the Economic Management Team, the vice president should chair constitutionally, would now be overseen by the President on the advice of the Economic Advisory Council recently set up.
Last week, President Buhari traveled to the United Kingdom on a 10-day private visit without handing over to the vice president via a letter to the National Assembly.
He is expected to return within 21 days or the Doctrine of Necessity law will become operational and Osinbajo will be empowered to function as acting president. The Doctrine of Necessity law was passed in 2010 when late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua traveled out without handing over to his then vice, Dr Goodluck Jonathan. The then Senator David Mark-led National Assembly passed the law which also operates at the state level if governors travel without formally handing over and remain abroad for more than 21 days.
During his current private visit, President Buhari, last week signed a bill into law in London, which sparked debate in the country with the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the presidency saying that Buhari could rule from any part of the globe.
The 35 sacked aides were among no fewer than 80 aides of the vice president.
They include Jibola Ajayi – special adviser, legal; Lanre Osinbona – senior special assistant, ICT; Imeh Okon – senior special assistant, Infrastructure; Jide Awolowo – special adviser, oil and gas; Lilian Idiaghe- special adviser, research, legal and compliance; Arukino Umukoro – special adviser, Niger Delta; Bala Liman Mohammed – senior special assistant, Economy; Edobor Iyamu – senior special assistant, Niger Delta; Dolapo Bright – senior special; assistant, agro allied value chain; and Toyosi Onaolapo special adviser, community engagement.
Others are Gambo Manzo – special adviser, political; Bisi Ogungbemi – special adviser, political matters; Edirin Akemu – senior special assistant, industry, trade & investment; Akin Soetan senior technical assistant, economic matters; Aondaver Kuttuh – technical assistant, rule of law; Ife Adebayo – special adviser, innovation; Yussuf Ali – special adviser, power regulations; Tola Asekun – senior special assistant, National Boundary Commission; Morakinyo Beckley – special adviser, off grid power; Yosola Akinbi – senior special assistant, NEC; and Tochi Nwachukwu – special adviser, power privatisation.
Also affected are Bode Gbore – senior special assistant, political; Abdulrahman Baffa Yola special adviser, political; Kolade Sofola – special adviser, infrastructure; Ebi Awosika – senior technical assistant, community engagement; Muyiwa Abiodun – senior special assistant, power; Forri Samson – Banu special adviser, entrepreneurship; Bege Bala – special adviser, BPE; Feyishayo Aina – senior special assistant, community engagement; Halima Bawa – special adviser, community engagement; Nkechi Chukwueke – special adviser, community engagement; and Ilsa Essien – special adviser, media
Mixed reactions greeted the development yesterday, with Afenifere and an elder of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Guy Ikokwu, asking Osinbajo to resign honourably.
Osinbajo should take a cue from Ukiwe—Afenifere
Reacting to the sacking of the aides, the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, urged the Vice President to take a cue from Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, retd, who resigned as Vice President of Nigeria during the General Ibrahim Babangida military government noting that it was the honourable thing to do.
Afenifere National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said: “I can’t fathom what Osinbajo is still doing in that place. He is a Yoruba man and our people say Iku ya jesin (Death is more honourable than certain indignities). Except if he has become a hostage of sort.
“This is the time to remember Ebitu Ukiwe, who resigned as IBB’s Chief of General Staff because some decisions were taken about Nigeria without his knowledge.
That was under military rule based on fiat.”
VP should resign honourably –Ikokwu
Chief Ikokwu, who is a member of the Imeobi (inner caucus) of Ohanaeze Ndigbo spoke in like manner.
He said: Osinbajo probably believes in democratic norms. Osinbajo believes in a federal union but those he is working with believe in a unitary government. The reality is that Nigeria is not a federal union, it is a unitary union.
‘’The way forward is that we should have a conference of all the ethnic nationalities to get a new constitution because the 1999 constitution is a fraud on the people. Our eyes have been opened because of the way it has been implemented. Osinbajo has two options. One is to remain there to the point that he is no longer treated as a living person. The other option is for him to resign honourably.
‘’At the moment, he ought to be the prime minister but in reality, the Chief of Staff is the prime minister. He is the person all the ministers report to and he is the person who tells the president who to see or not.
‘’Now, the president traveled out of Nigeria on a private visit. The private visit does not warrant him exercising presidential duties, like signing bills, which are public functions. It happened before when he signed NNPC contract abroad; till date we don’t know how that contract has been implemented.
Now, he is abroad carrying out public duties. After another one or two weeks, the constitution will hold him accountable that he should have handed over to the Vice President through a letter to the National Assembly. If anything happens that he is unable to return outside the days allowed, he will be in total breach of the constitution.’’
Rift between Buhari, Osinbajo imaginary – CAN
However, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, said the sack of the 35 aides may not have been done in bad faith.
The umbrella Christian body also dismissed insinuations that the sacking of Osinbajo’s aides was an overflow of a rift in the Presidency.
Speaking in a chat withVanguard in Abuja, CAN’s National Director, Legal and Public Affairs, Evang. Samuel Kwamkur, said: “As far as we are concerned, the President reserves the right to dismiss aides appointed by him to serve either in his office or that of the Vice President since he approved their appointments.
“We believe President Buhari has a reason for dismissing the aides to his deputy. However, it is left for him to explain to Nigerians why he had to let them go.
“CAN does not think there is a rift between the President and Vice President Osinbajo. The VP has been very loyal to the President. In fact, we think he is one of the most loyal Vice Presidents in Africa.
“We believe the rumoured rift in the Presidency is imaginary and the handiwork of mischief makers who seek to overheat the polity ahead of 2023 general elections.”
The religious body urged the two leaders to close ranks and continue to work together for the development of the country.
“We remind the President and his Vice that they were elected and reelected on a joint ticket. So, Nigerians expect them to close ranks and work together as a team to better the nation.
“They should understand that Nigerians are looking up to them for proper leadership. If there are rancour and bitterness among the people at the lowest levels of our society, the same should not be heard of, or seen at the highest levels of the Presidency.
“If the nation must move forward, the President and the Vice President should relate more on personal basis rather than through aides and proxies,” Evang. Kwamkur said.
This issue must be handled with care – Junaid Muhammed
Meanwhile Second Republic Lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Muhammed in his reaction maintained that the issue should be carefully managed saying the Vice President was obviously partisan and disloyal to the ruling party.
His words: “I wasn’t surprised to hear about it but the timing took me by surprise. If you want to do this kind of thing, you do it when you can handle the consequence.
“The cabals are the extension of Kaduna Mafia. The ambition of the Kaduna Mafia has always been to dominate the North; they have never had the opportunity to do so until the coming of Buhari’s administration. When I said there are cabals, let’s fight them democratically, people thought I was just blabbing.
“By law all the appointments of aides in the Vice president’s office were supposed to be made by President Buhari and their loyalty should be to President Buhari. In other words, the issue between Osinbajo and Buhari should be handled with care. It reminds me of the issue between former President Obasanjo and his vice, Atiku.”
Osinbajo should be acting President when Buhari is on vacation- PANDEF
National Youth Leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Olorogun Vincent Oyibode, yesterday, said it was clearly unconstitutional for President Muhammadu Buhari to proceed on vacation without the Vice President taking over as acting President.
Oyibode told Vanguard: “This is unconstitutional, the law is very clear on the issue of vacation of Mr President, even if it is one week, the vice president takes over as acting President.”
The PANDEF official, who spoke amidst the alleged sacking of 35 aides of Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo and non-transfer of power to him by President Buhari, said: “The APC-led government is too steeped in undue acts, the cabals are hell bent on promoting illegality irrespective of what their said action will cause the county.
“The same cabal are the ones promoting illegality in Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, by setting up interim management committee that is not recognised by law.
“On the issue of firing of some aides of the Vice president, President Buhari may not be aware of the sack of the aides of the vice president,” he asserted.