It was easy for those critics presidency officials describe as mischief makers and naysayers to taunt Prof. Yemi Osinbajo over his perceived demotion in the affairs of the Muhammadu Buhari presidency.
The presidential memo directing Osinbajo to seek presidential approval for actions in the agencies under his purview is, however, not exceptional. However, the delivery and the timing is revealing of the power play within the Buhari presidency.
The move by the president follows the precedent set by the only other truly second-term president of the Fourth Republic. President Olusegun Obasanjo was the only other president that truly served a second term and he also moved, in the same way, to cut the power of the vice-president after the later had helped him to win a second term.
Despite the renewed love between Dr. Obasanjo and Atiku Abubakar today, 15 years ago as the former settled into office for his second term, he moved with military efficiency to neutralize Atiku reducing him to a newspaper vice-president.
Whereas Osinbajo helped to distribute trademoni and put intellectual zest to the Buhari presidency for voters to behold ahead of 2019, Atiku also cut deals here and there with political powers to navigate a second term for Obasanjo.
However, not long after in 2003, Mallam Garba Shehu, Atiku’s likeable media man, alongside some others including even Obasanjo’s “mole” in Atiku’s office, Dr. Adinoyi Onukaba-Ojo were sacked in the proclamation of a united presidency.
Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the only other president to have been inaugurated a second time did not have the space to throw such muscle against his deputy as he truly did not have a second term.
Willy-nilly, only simpletons would have been shocked with the development in the presidency this week.
While a national newspaper alleged that the move against Osinbajo was traceable to his actions as acting president during President Buhari’s medical vacation, your correspondent can assert that it even flows deeper.
Not only did Acting President Osinbajo hurt the cabal’s feelings with his appointment of Walter Onnoghen as Chief Justice and the sack of Lawal Daura as director general of the Department of State Services, his carriage during that period also rubbed off negatively on the cabal.
The impression that Nigeria was better in that period and that he, Osinbajo could do better touched raw nerves within the Buhari presidency.
But could he have done differently? Could he have just like Dr. Jonathan, detached himself and allowed the country to run aimlessly in that period of the medical vacation? That is a question that is bound to exercise many minds.
But Professor Osinbajo is, however, bound to get little sympathy from the naysayers and mischief makers that have also been flayed by his minders.
It is remarkable that one of the major advantages Osinbajo brought to the first term election of Buhari was the toga of a senior pastor in Nigeria’s biggest Pentecostal denomination. Many danced towards the ticket in 2015 with the confidence that whatever toga of extremism that the PDP sought to put on Buhari would be balanced by the presence of Pastor Osinbajo.
However, it turned into an irony that in the first term that the Christian population was distressed with appointments made by the administration that was reflected in the appointment of only Northern Muslims as heads of all the major agencies in the Federal Ministry of Education.
Pastor Osinbajo’s fellow pastor, but with different political nuances, Pastor Reno Omokiri has to the embarrassment of the church regularly mocked the vice-president on his political indiscretions.
The consolidation of power in the presidency was further highlighted with the indefinite suspension from office of Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, the head of the civil service of the federation.
Mrs. Oyo–Ita is leaving office with the trail of being the only known public office holder to have spoken back and walked away.
Mrs. Oyo-Ita’s televised exchange with the Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari over misunderstandings about Abdulrasheed Maina, one of the most sordid corruption cases of the first term, left many wondering on how long she would last. Many are to be convinced that her troubles just like Osinbajo’s did not start from that first term.
On the edges of the Niger Delta creeks, another woman was unveiled on Tuesday as speaking truth to power when it matters.
Mrs. Helen Bob, a Special Adviser on Talent Development to Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, was sacked on Tuesday, after it became public that her advice on the talents the governor was grooming for succession were defective.
She was reported to have said that Dickson could be the last PDP governor of Bayelsa State with the way he was breaking ranks to foist a successor.
She has also been reported to have told the governor that “truth is bitter” and would not join his praise-singing choir to retain her job.
The governor’s response last Tuesday was perhaps one of the most damning dismissal letters in recent times.
In dismissing her, the governor in a public statement accused Mrs. Bob of “repeated acts of gross misconduct, indiscipline, irresponsibility and acts unbecoming of a person occupying the high position of Special Adviser in any government whatsoever.” Yet, the governor kept her for nearly eight years!
Mrs. Bob just like Mrs. Oyo-Ita left office with a mark of having spoken. What Prof. Osinbajo spoke or is speaking is what we do not know. Or did they speak for him?