Lagos – Leaders from the Southern and Middle Belt of the country on Sunday said governors elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) were economical with the truth when they described as falsehood media reports of attempts to whittle down the powers of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo by some members of the cabal in the presidency.
It would be recalled that APC governors last week said there was no iota of truth in the insinuation that ‘cabals’ in the presidency had perfected plans to slam corruption charges on Vice President Osinbajo and subsequently impeach him.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, who co-chairs the Progressives Governors’ Forum (PGF) Media and Communications Steering Committee, told journalists at the inauguration of the panel that “such talks exist in the realm of gossips and rumours.”
He had added: “There is no crack. At the time they said that, the vice president went to Zimbabwe to represent this country. It was the prerogative of Mr. President to go, but he nominated Osinbajo.”
However, in a statement on Sunday by Chief Edwin Clark of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF); Chief Ayo Adebanjo of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere; Chief John Nwodo of the Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and Dr. Pogu Bitrus of the Middle Belt Forum, the leaders – under the aegis of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) – in a statement titled, ‘Rumble in Presidency: Need To Know’, said the latest developments in the presidency as regards Osinbajo’s office did not correspond with the position of the governors.
They said: “The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has followed with keen interest developments in the presidency as regards the office of the Vice-President in the past few days.
“The virtual stripping of the office of the VP of most functions and responsibilities, even some that are constitutional, by fiat does not correspond with the declaration of APC governors that all is well at the seat of power.
“The office of the Vice-President today is definitely not what it was two weeks ago.
“Something is definitely wrong even when we cannot place our fingers on it yet.
“And this is because of the opaque handling of affairs of a supposed constitutional democracy and open society in a manner reminiscent of a kingdom where things are done according to the whims and caprices of the monarch.
“We are a democracy and the people need to know the ways their lives are being run by those they have hired to do the job”.
“Moreover, the multi-ethnic nature of Nigeria and the geo-political balancing of its presidency will make the kind of actions that have been taken against the office of the Vice-President to attract the usual suspicion of the experiences of Ebitu Ukiwe and Oladipo Diya if there are no explanations to the public.
“In this dispensation, in particular, references would be made to the treatment of Justice Walter Onnoghen, Mrs. Winifred Oyo Ita, and now Prof Osinbajo on one hand, and Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina of Pension Reform Task Force, Prof Usman Yusuf of NHIS, and Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano, on the other hand.”
While calling for a restoration of Osinbajo’s functions, the leaders also condemned the silence of the presidency on the matter, saying Nigerians needed to know the true position of things.
They also condemned the presidency’s silence on some allegations levelled against Osinbajo, especially by Timi Frank, a former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC.
Frank had accused the vice president of receiving N90 billion from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to fund the 2019 presidential election.
“In order to preserve the unity of the country, therefore, we demand explanation on what is happening to Osinbajo from the presidency and if no such is forthcoming, his functions should be restored.
“We have equally noticed the unusual quiet from the presidency on damaging allegations against the vice president. In any normal clime, it should not have taken more than a day for the presidency to dispel the allegations to maintain the moral standing of the VP and the integrity of the administration.
“We, therefore, demand a statement from the government on the weighty allegations or an investigation to be caused. We hold our breath until the public is properly briefed,” the statement added.
No Crack In Buhari, Osinbajo’s Relationship— Presidency
Meanwhile, the presidency on Sunday said there is no truth in media reports of an attempt to whittle down the powers of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo by some power brokers in the presidency.
Speaking on Channels Television programme ‘Sunday Politics’, Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, said all the media reports are nothing but insinuations.
On some policies initiated by the presidency which affected Osinbajo’s office, Adesina said it is all geared towards making Nigeria better.
“These are all insinuations. They are not necessarily true and correct. Both of us who operate from the inside have not seen the alleged crack between the president and vice president. They are not there.
“I am surprised to read so many things published but from the inside, I can confidently say there are no issues. The presidency remains one and the work continues. If there are some adjustments in practices and procedures, they are just things that are good for the country.
“They are things that are meant to make the country better and achieve the goal for Nigeria. When I read all these things, I wonder where they get them from and typical of mob, you have seen that they have descended on the vice president but he is right to go court because it is his integrity that they have impugned”, he said.