Although the Presidency through the Office of the Vice President has issued a public statement refuting any disunity or acrimony between the VP and President Muhammadu Buhari which is the truth and nothing but the truth, it needs be stated that since the return of democracy to the country in 1999, the Buhari-Osinbajo presidency remains the most cohesive, linear and collaborative.
Aside the collaboration between the First and Second Citizens of the country, there is also this mutual respect between the two for each other, though the VP tends to see the President, being far older, as fatherly in his disposition towards him. The President has never minced words about the contagious affection he has for his deputy, a cerebral Professor of Law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
What’s more? The symbiotic relationship between the two which has led to a smooth running of the presidency for the past four years has also extended to their wives- Mrs Aisha Buhari and Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo- two delectable women who see themselves as Siamese twins with admirable respect for each other.
As for the latest needless furore over the Economic Advisory Council newly empanelled by President Buhari which is fuelled by mischief makers and vendors of non-existent divisiveness in the Presidency, the truth of the matter is the formation of such council, its composition and supervisory control are the exclusive preserves of the President. He may choose to delegate such responsibility which he did in his first term in office when Osinbajo was the head of the now disbanded Economic Management Team (EMT).
Except for the purpose of mischief, did anyone ever think the Vice President as head of the now dissolved EMT will take any major economic decision without the approval of the President? Thank goodness, the VP through a press statement by his media adviser, Laolu Akande, did say there was no crucial decision taken by the team without the approval of the President in whose behalf the VP acts most times.
As for me, without the least atom of doubt, I believe no major decision of the EMT got implemented without the President’s approval. And if the President decided to be in direct control of the Economic Advisory Council as he begins his NEXT LEVEL agenda, what’s the brouhaha all about by cynics and uncritical fault finders looking for faults where none exists?
A quick reminder. During the last electioneering process, President Buhari, while campaigning across the length and breadth of the country for his re-election, said he would pay more attention to the economy in his second term in office. Forming the EAC is one of such steps, going forward. Rather than vilify the President, I feel he deserves some commendation for this. At least if not for anything, we all now know where to lay the appropriate blame or pass deserving commendation as far as the economy is concerned.
As for those parroting that the powers and influence of the VP are being undermined by an anonymous cabal in the presidency ahead of 2023 power play, our historical reality as a democracy is that the Office of the VP has always existed at the pleasure of the President. The VP has extremely limited statutory functions such as the supervisory management of NEMA guaranteed by the NEMA Act.
For those who may not know, whatever you see the Vice President does outside his lean constitutional responsibilities, he does so at the mercy of the President. It’s not debatable that Professor Yemi Osinbajo remains the most engaged and engaging Vice President the country has had till date.
Retelling here whatever he has done for the country in the last four years won’t be possible because of time and space constraint. Is it how he was able to mesh the fault lines in the country together while the President was abroad for medical treatment through his shuttle diplomacy to all the trouble spots in the country? Or about the humanity he brought to governance by interfacing between the Presidency and ordinary Nigerians? Shall I talk about how he cleverly coordinated the economy until it was out of economic recession that practically brought the nation to its knees? Like I said earlier, the list of his good deeds is endless.
In any case, under former President Goodluck Jonathan, the VP was not even the head of the economic management team of the administration. It was the Minister of Finance, Mrs Okonjo Iweala who headed the position and also served as the coordinating minister of the economy. Heavens did not let loose then. I can’t even recall any extra-presidential responsibility delegated to Alhaji Namadi Sambo by the President in that administration.
Jonathan as VP to the late Musa Yar’dua was an anonymous figure in the Presidential Villa until he became the Acting President and subsequently the substantive President. He was tossed around by power brokers who felt he should not be given any responsibility by the President who was gravely sick at the time.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was very relevant during the first term of President Olusegun Obasanjo. But when Atiku was beginning to behave like the President, Obasanjo put him in his place and practically liquidated him till the end of the administration. Juxtapose the above with that of the vice president Yemi Osinbajo who sits on the membership of National Security Council, Council of State, Federal Executive Council etc all of which VP is deputy chairman.
Luckily for President Buhari, he has an extremely loyal, dependable VP who has never done and will never do anything to undermine the powers and influence of his principal. With Osinbajo, a reliable Omoluabi, the President can go to sleep with his two eyes closed. Times without numbers, the President has made allusion to the absolute trust he has in his VP. What else? Let mischief hawkers go and find another article of trade to hawk. Let’s allow the President and Vice President to sustain their excellent working relationship that isn’t about to change.
As for the furore of the economic team, let it be known that the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) is a think -tank that acts on advisory capacity to the President, the Economic Management Team reported to the president. The new council will report to the president and you won’t be shocked if and when Council interface with the vice president on behalf of the President. I see the council as a change of strategy by the presidency to bring in a private-sector approach to the management of the economy.