Any other eminent political figure or star celebrity could and should have dominated the media space. But that was not to be. Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s serving Vice President, was in the news—all through last, and even a penultimate week.
His ‘travail’ was the appetizing ‘cuisine’ several media houses feasted on. In major newspapers, on TV stations, radios, commenters and analysts had a field day. They all dished out their expert analyses on the nature of the high wire politicking and scheming already taking place in the Presidential Villa.
It would be recalled that a fortnight ago, President Muhammadu Buhari announced a crack team of economists, led by Prof. Doyin Salami, as members of his Economic Advisory Council (EAC). The team replaces the Economic Management Team (EMT) headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The new team, which reports directly to the president, is to advise on economic policy matters, including fiscal analysis, economic growth and a range of internal and global economic issues, working with the relevant cabinet members and heads of monetary and fiscal agencies.
President Buhari’s action has continued to draw plaudits across the country, with many of his critics also voicing approvals and describing the move as one capable of redirecting the economic policies and improving the country’s fortunes.
Former CBN governor and Emir of Kano, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II, commendand ed President Buhari, describing the action as “the single most important move made by the president in his second term with great potential for turning the economy around. The team he has assembled is first class by all standards and each and every one of them is held in high regard by all our professional colleagues.”
Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum described Buhari’s bid to rejig the economic team for growth of the country as a welcome development. The Forum praised the old team, headed by Vice President Osinbajo, for exiting the nation from the recession occasioned by years of profligacy and massive corruption that left the country stunted.
But while many highlight the positives of the action, there has been greater measure of dissents, who believe that the President’s action, in the same fell swoop, is sheer gamesmanship aimed at further cutting down on Osinbajo’s already lean powers.
The supposition is that the latest move is part of a salvo aimed at whittling the importance of the office of the Vice President and indeed, the occupant of the office, all as part of the game-plan ahead of the next political dispensation in 2023.
Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, condemned the replacement of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, saying that by the action, Buhari has relegated and treated the VP with contempt.
Fani-Kayode said, “Despite his constant fawning on Buhari, his cowardly and quisling disposition and his penchant to defend the indefensible, Osinbajo seems to have been relegated and treated with disdain and contempt by the object of his praise and the recipient of his worship.”
“First, he is thrown off the economic team, then some parastatals are removed from his supervision and finally he is told that he must get presidential approval for any expenses he seeks to incur.”
However, various media reports have indicated that problems started for the Vice President when he speedily pushed for the sack of former Director-General of DSS, Lawal Daura while he was in acting as President. It was reported that such act compelled the cabal to move against the pastor.
It was further reported that Lawal Daura had been digging into how funds in agencies and departments under Professor Osinbajo have been utilised including the Social Investment Programmes which are been spearheaded by the Vice President.
Meanwhile, the major beneficiary of the seeming tension within the Presidency is the new super minister, Sadiya Umar Faruk, who supervises all-powerful Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development under which the Social Investment Programmes have just been moved.
With the south already anticipating a return of power to the region come 2023, and with news making the rounds that APC national leader, Bola Tinubu, is gearing up to throw his hat in the ring, a group of power brokers in the presidency is said to have plans afoot to effectively checkmate Tinubu’s alleged 2023 presidential ambition or any of his allies for that matter.
The group, which has the president’s ears and is said to be recruiting leaders across the north, including emirs, is also alleged to be working to ensure that power eventually does not return to the south at the expiration of Buhari’s term. As events unfold, however, stakeholders in the national project would continue to interrogate the actions and inactions of President Buhari. This is with a view to ascertaining the veracity of the plot thickening ahead of 2023, his culpability in the whole narrative and whether the latest appointment of economic stalwarts into his government was buoyed by altruism or it is yet another salvo in a political orchestra playing out.
Gidado Yushau Shuaib, the editor of Youths Digest and The News Digest, can be reached on [email protected]