A recent viral report claimed that Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo’s influence in the Buhari-led administration has waned but POLITICS NIGERIA, in its support for accountability, found the supporting facts to be misleading.
The AfricaReport.com, in a Tuesday report titled “Nigeria 2023: Osinbajo’s chances grow slimmer as cabal tightens grip on presidency”, claimed the Vice-president has been relegated by some ‘cabal’ in Aso-Rock.
Also, the report linked Osinbajo to the politics of the 2023 presidency, insinuating that the ‘Cabal’ has diminished his chances of succeeding his boss.
Below are eight claims from the analysis, fact-checked to be MISLEADING.
“The crowd that gathered at the Sani Abacha Stadium on July 3, to witness the coronation of the 15th Emir of Kano – Aminu Ado Bayero – got more than they bargained for when Osinbajo (the nation’s number two citizen) and Ibrahim Gambari (chief of staff in the office of the president) strode onto the stage at different times, claiming to represent President Muhammadu Buhari.”
“At the coronation that was attended by several dignitaries, both Osinbajo and Gambari read two different speeches, both reportedly on behalf of Buhari, thereby confusing not just spectators but journalists who had come to cover the event.”
POLITICS NIGERIA learnt that the Vice President represented President Buhari at the event and performed his role at the event, reading the President’s speech. The Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, on the other hand, attended the event in his capacity as a relation(uncle) to the celebrant.
To set the record straight, while VP presented Buhari’s speech at the event while Gambari read out a congratulatory letter to the Emir signed by the President.
This, however, is not controversial as the roles performed by Messrs Gambari and Osinbajo were distinct but complementary. This perhaps emphasized the importance the presidency attached to the event rather than a flagrant show of power tussle.
“Ibrahim Magu, chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had been serving in acting capacity for over six months but many in the president’s inner circle didn’t want him confirmed because he had stepped on many toes.”
“However, immediately after Buhari travelled for his first medical trip, Osinbajo – as acting president – sent a letter to the Senate, requesting Magu’s immediate confirmation. But the cabal was ready to fight back.”
The report suggested that the VP influenced Magu’s nomination but the appointment of Magu and other key appointees of the administration including the head of the country’s anti-graft agency was done by the President.
POLITICS NIGERIA gathered that President Buhari personally nominated Ibrahim Magu as EFCC boss. Magu was later sacked and replaced with Abdulrasheed Bawa, sequel to allegations of impropriety against him.
“He (Osinbajo) also got some of his allies appointed into government positions like his business partner, Babatunde Irukera, who was named the Executive Secretary of the Consumer Protection Council.”
Although Irukera was appointed as FCCPC boss, independent verification showed that he had ceased being the VP’S partner, because Osinbajo had left SimmonsCooper Partners, his former workplace much earlier.
“After the 2019 elections, things began to change. On 25 April 2019, the president travelled to London for 11 days on what he termed a ‘private visit’. But for the first time, he refused to hand over power to Osinbajo as he had done in the last four years.”
While the article is correct that Buhari has not handed over duties to Osinbajo since the second term began, it refuses to note that handing over in the previous term was done in line with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 constitution as amended that provides for such if the President will be away for 21 days.
“In compliance with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 constitution as amended, I wish to inform the Distinguished Senate that I will be away on a short medical vacation from 6th-16th of June 2016, and while I am away, the Vice President (Osinbajo) will perform the functions of my office.”
“Please, accept, as always assurances of my highest esteemed consideration,” one of the President’s letter sent to the Senate in 2016 read.
Checks by POLITICS NIGERIA showed that since President Buhari was voted for the second term, he has not spent 21 days abroad, which implies that any handing over is needless and unconstitutional.
“Osinbajo’s assistant pastor, Enelamah, was not re-appointed as minister of trade and investment, and other appointments made by Osinbajo during Buhari’s absence were rescinded.”
The appointment of Pastor Okechukwu Enelamah as Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment was not done by the VP. In fact, independent sources confirmed that the late Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari, nominated Enelamah following their relationship from the banking industry.
Kyari, who died of COVID-19 last year, was previously a banker before he ventured into politics.
“Confined to his constitutional role, the president’s chief of staff, Abba Kyari, sacked about 35 of Osinbajo’s aides without informing him.”
The purported sack of the VP’s aides is another fallacy that has been debunked in previous publications, according to POLITICS NIGERIA’s checks. No appointee of the VP was sacked as insinuated in the report, and at no time did the President admit authorizing the sack of any aide of the VP.
In articles published by numerous online and print media on Nov 17, 2019, the President denied the termination of appointment of any aides in the Presidency. Rather, President Buhari clarified that the appointees were redeployed to a new ministry.
According to a report published by Daily Independent on Nov 17, 2019, “the President, who fielded questions from the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) State House Correspondent at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, upon his return from a private visit from the United Kingdom, described the interpretations of his directives as a sack as ‘unfortunate’.”
“Osinbajo immediately summoned Daura, who was believed to have committed acts of insubordination against the vice-president. Daura, who said he only takes orders from Buhari, was immediately sacked by Osinbajo and later detained.”
“This is believed to have infuriated the president’s inner circle.”
POLITICS NIGERIA understands that belief should not be misconstrued as fact. President Buhari had foreknowledge of the decision to terminate the appointment of erstwhile director-general of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Musa Daura.
The Vice-president simply carried out the directive because of the President’s Absence. It’s also important to note that if dissatisfied about it, the president had powers to reappoint him. He didn’t.
“In August, Buhari created a new ministry – for humanitarian affairs and disaster management – and appointed his long time friend Sadiya Umar Farouq to be in charge of the docket.”
“Farouq took over the billion-dollar social investment programme that was under Osinbajo’s office”
Checks by POLITICS NIGERIA reveal that this was done in order for the Vice-President to adequately focus and manage a 2.3 Trillion Economic Sustainable Plan(ESP or Stimulus Plan) that was handed over to him and not in any way a power move as indicated by the report.
The goals of the NESP are to create jobs, pump money into the economy and hopefully stop it slipping into recession, support small businesses and prioritise local content (Made-in-Nigeria).
The NESP is a 12-month ‘Transit’ Plan between the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) and the ERGP-successor-plan currently being worked upon.
CONCLUSION: Based on the misleading claims that formed the basis of the African Report’s analysis, it is MISLEADING to conclude that the influence of Osinbajo has dwindled over the years.