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Why Buhari was forced to relegate Vice President Yemi Osibanjo to “VP Academics”

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On the 8th of November, Daily Trust published an article titled “Presidency confirms Daily Trust’s exclusive on Sacked Osinbajo Aides”. It stated “The presidency has confirmed report that some political appointees of the Vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, were fired”. 

The official spokesperson to the President, Garba Shehu also tweeted to give credence to the widely circulated report.

He wrote, “The Presidency wishes to confirm that there is an ongoing, an unprecedented overhaul of the nation’s seat of government, the exercise, which has been ordered by the president, is to streamline decision-making, cut down multiple cost of administration”

Shehu ensured to make it clear that “the relationship between the two leaders remain excellent and trusting.”

However, sources within the Presidency, say that the relationship between the two is far from excellent, major actors within the hierarchy of the party now openly refer to the Vice President as the ‘VP Academics’, while the president’s right hand man, Abba Kyari, is seen as the substantive Vice President – the one with the true Vice Presidential Powers.

this is a tweet by an aide to the governor of kano state and a member of the apc

This is not the first time a rift has occurred between the president and his vice, since the return of democracy to Nigeria. During Olusegun Obasanjo’s second term in office (2003-2007), the Executive also sacked the aides of the then Vice President, Atiku Abubakar. Interestingly, one of the sacked aides of Atiku was Garba Shehu, the current spokesperson to the President Buhari.

There’s a history and the face-off with Buhari and Osibanjo won’t be the first

The reason for the rift between Obasanjo and his Vice was caused by the ambition of Atiku to run for presidency in the coming election. However, with Osinbajo, the situation seems to be different.

According to a political analyst, Mr Ose Anenih, while speaking to NewsWireNGR, he argued that “Osinbajo’s situation seems to be slightly different as his defenestration is occurring barely 120 days into Buhari’s second term. It seems that it is being driven by those around the president, more than the president himself.”

‘The situations are obviously different, Obasanjo’s issues with Atiku was down to power and ambition, while Yemi Osinbajo seems to be fighting a personal battle with the close confidants of the president.  Obasanjo and Atiku fought for the crown, Yemi’s Situation is a battle of courtiers for the King’s attention”, he maintained.

President Muhammadu Buhari, shortly after his return to Nigerian from London, said: ”It is unfortunate that the recent disengagement of some political appointees from the presidency had been given ‘‘ethnic and political’’ interpretations.

‘‘They said 35 people were sacked in the Vice President’s office. We just created some ministries and we reorganised and people are giving it ethnic and political dimensions. It is unfortunate.” The President told newsmen.

But another analysts, Feyi Fawehinmi revealed to NewsWireNGR that some of the Vice president’s supervisory roles have been reduced, most notably the National emergency programs, which all boils down to trust issues between the Vice President and his fellow Courtiers.

“There was a time pretty much everyone thought Buhari was going to die during the illness and in that time may be Osinbajo wielded power in a way that showed he believed he was going to be president”. He added.

The President had to sign the Deep Offshore Act, while on a private visit in London and the Vice President was idling in Abuja. At NewsWireNGR we went to dig for more and here is what our Villa source tells us, “Lawal Daura is the one dealing with Osibanjo – he is an insider in the cabal, he is the one in charge of security, officially (in the books) he is not there, remember he recommended his replacement at DSS and he is the one making all the security decisions”.

From sacking 30 aides to the Vice Presidents, to reallocating programmes like the National Social Investment Programme and he signed to the Deep Offshore Act while he was on a private visit in London, leaving the Vice President idling in Abuja – notice the Chief of staff, Abba Kyari had to fly all the way to ensure the law was signed by President Buhari to mention a few.

Sources within the Aso Rock Villa, who do not want their names mentioned in this report also tell NewsWireNGR that “When the DSS raid happened at the National Assembly, the VP called the President, while he was in London and the VP asked the President what should be done about the invasion and the President replied the Vice President “do what is best,” but the Vice President on his own went ahead to sack Lawal Daura and that action hurt the entire cabal including the President, besides Daura is President Buhari’s nephew”.

In August 2018, NewsWireNGR recalls that masked operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) barricaded the gates to the National Assembly complex, shutting out lawmakers.

The drama happened amid concern by some legislators, especially those in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that their All Progressives Congress (APC) counterparts were plotting to forcefully re-open the premises and impeach the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu. DSS personnel took up positions and prevented lawmakers from entering the complex – When lawmakers attempted to enter, the security men barked they had orders not to allow anybody in. After the invasion, then Acting President, Yemi Osibanjo, immediately ordered the sack of Lawal Daura, then DSS boss.

Daura’s termination was announced by Osinbajo’s spokesperson, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Tuesday, August 7, 2018.

“Members of the Cabal are saying for him (Yemi Osibanjo) to have the mind to sack Lawal Daura, even his brother at FIRS, too must go – they just waited for them to win elections for him to be dealt with,” our source continued.

“Lawal Daura is an insider in the cabal, he is the one in charge of security, officially (in the books) he is not there, remember he recommended his replacement at DSS and he is the one making all the security decisions.”

“There was a time they recommended him for the position of the National Security Adviser, NSA and the Vice President kicked – Don’t forget the appointment of the NSA has not be renewed because Daura wants it,” the source maintained.

But Mr Anenih, a vocal member of the Opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, reiterates to NewsWireNGR, “it’s unfortunate that the administration is still stuck in politics mode and is being distracted from pressing issues of governance so early in the day” .

Constitutionally, agencies like NEMA falls under the control of the Vice president, taking away NEMA from his control is seen by many as a way to clip the wings of the VP. The Economic Management Team, EMT, which was chaired by Osinbajo, got replaced with a new Economic Advisory Council, EAC. The face-off started with the dissolutions of the Vice President’s National Livestock Transformation Plan, NLTP.

The Vice President’s attempt to separate RUGA from his NLTP may have bruised some powerful Northern egos within his party. “However the VP hasn’t shown an appetite for direct conflict, and I suspect he will keep the NLTP on ice rather than try to push it through now, and risk his death”. Mr Ose Anenih further tells NewsWireNGR.

The trust issue was recently evident during President Buhari’s last medical trip to London without Handing over to his Vice. Abba Kyari (the alleged VP Admin) flew to London to get Buhari’s signature on the Deep Offshore Act.

The refusal to handover is a clear sign of the president’s lack of faith in his Vice. One would recall that the last time the president handed over to the VP; he acted in the nation’s interest when he sacked the DG of DSS, that, obviously ruffled some feathers.

Members of the ruling party recently pushed for the anti-hate speech bill which is essentially a social media censorship bill.

NewsWireNGR recalls, however, that Osinbajo has repeatedly said that the government does not have any business with regulating the social media. It is obvious that there is a clear disconnect in governance between the inner circle and the Vice President.

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