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Saturday, 19 October, 2019

Trouble Looms As Buhari Begins Moves To Render Osinbajo Politically  Irrelevant


The fate of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who President Muhammadu Buhari once described as a loyal deputy was hanging in the balance last night, The NATION.

Prof. Osinbajo has been more than just a number two; he has been the poster boy of the Administration.

A man of intellectual depth, Osinbajo speaks eloquently about the Administration’s economic policies.

But on Monday, the Presidency announced the replacement of the Economic Management Team (EMT), which Osinbajo chairs, with an Economic Advisory Council (EAC), to be chaired by Prof Doyin Salami.

Other members of the new body are Dr. Mohammed Sagagi (Vice-Chairman), Prof Ode Ojowu, Dr Shehu Yahaya, Dr Iyabo Masha, Prof Chukwuma Soludo, Mr Bismark Rewane, and Dr Mohammed Adaya Salisu (Secretary).

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said the advisory council “will be reporting directly to the President”.

Barely 24 hours after constituting the EAC, there is disquiet within the government and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), over alleged plans to relocate some top aides of the Vice President from the Presidential Villa to some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

The developments fueled the claims that some forces were out to “curtail” the VP’s powers by excising some agencies under his supervision.

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Deepening the fears was the alleged memo from President Muhammadu Buhari directing the Vice President to henceforth seek presidential approvals in the running of the agencies under his supervision.

He said agencies under his supervision are acting constitutionally.

A statement by his spokesman Laolu Akande said: “Our attention has been drawn to a sensational report by The Cable which claims that His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, has directed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to seek approvals for agencies under him.

“The report suggests, falsely, that agencies under the supervision of the Vice President do not normally comply with established rules where presidential approvals are required.

“This is obviously misleading and aims only to plant seeds of discord in the Presidency while attempting to create unnecessary national hysteria.

Read Also: Osinbajo Denies Not Following Due Process In Supervising Agencies Under His Office
“The agencies in question are established by law and the Vice President has always insisted on due compliance with the enabling statutes and other established regulations.

“Depending on the particular scope of activity in question, agencies may require management approval only, at the level of the DirectDirector-Generalief Executive Officer. In this category fall the great majority of their day-to-day activities.

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“However, other activities, or procurements, with value a exceeding a certain threshold, require Board approval. These may get to the agency Board chaired by the Vice President.

“In a few cases where Presidential approval is required, the Director-General must seek such approval from the President, through the Vice President.

“These rules have always guided the activities of statutory agencies and the ones under the Vice President’s supervision have always been so guided.”

The Vice President said he never failed to comply with the law.

He cautioned against moves to cause disaffection in the presidency especially between him and the President.

He said he has an effective and mutually respectful relationship with the President.

He said: “To claim that in the first term of the Buhari administration, agencies of government have not been complying with the provisions (of getting final approvals from the President) is false, and the attempt to suggest the Vice President’s complicity in such irregularities is simply mischievous and reprehensible.

“The effective and mutually respecting relationship between the President and the Vice President is well known to Nigerians and it is futile to insinuate otherwise.

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“Even though the Vice President has a statutory role as Board Chairman of some government agencies under his office, with appropriate approval limits, which often do not include contract approvals; it is ludicrous to even insinuate that a Board Chairman approves contracts.

“Evidently, the Federal Executive Council, which oversees Federal ministries and agencies of government, is chaired by the President, and it is in its purview to approve or ratify award of contracts within the prescribed threshold.

“The Vice President remains committed to the service of his fatherland and will continue to do so despite the purveyors of fake news. We urge media organisations, as gatekeepers to uphold truth, balance, fairness and objectivity in their reports.

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