The sacking of 35 aides of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday was the latest in the string of humiliations hurled at Vice President Yemi Osinbajo by the Muhammadu Buhari presidency or better the cabal in the presidency.
Beginning from a succession of moves in September, the Vice President appears to be a target of deliberate arrows of power emasculation.
Denied by the ruling All Progressives Congress and presidency officials, the drama keeps unfolding in new, inexorable plots that even the politically blind knows that unusual things are happening at Aso Villa.
The first shot was fired on 16 September when Buhari announced the setting up of an Economic Advisory Council, without notice to the Vice President who had run an advisory council, that had the likes of Aliko Dangote as members.
Noticeably missing in the new council, headed by Dr Doyin Salami, is the absence of Dr Adeyemi Dipeolu, the economic adviser in the presidency for the past four and half years.
To further make Dipeolu totally redundant, in a supposedly one presidency, President Buhari announced on Tuesday the appointment of Sarah Alade, a former CBN deputy governor as special adviser, with an enlarged portfolio, on economy and finance.
Also in September, Buhari via a memo leaked to the media, directed Osinbajo to seek his approval for decisions made on agencies under his office. People with sufficient knowledge of how the Buhari presidency works, know that this implies subordinating Osinbajo to the whims and caprices of Buhari’s chief of staff, Abba Kyari, who takes many decisions on Buhari’s behalf by invoking Buhari’s name.
And as if these were not enough, on October 1, Buhari formally announced the transfer of the Buhari administration’s signature multi-faceted N-Power and school feeding programme from the Vice President’s office to the new Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, the minister of which is Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, who is closely linked with the President.
The excuse was that Buhari wanted the programme institutionalised, making political pundits to wonder whether it had not been anchored all along on some kind of formal framework, with a special adviser at the helms and a panoply of officers and offices, throughout the country.
The sack of aides working in the Vice President’s office is the latest proof that an open agenda is clearly being executed to cut the wings of Osinbajo, described recently by the Emir of Buhari’s town of Daura as the most loyal Vice President that Nigeria ever had.
Indeed, P.M.News learnt that the sudden plan to disengage some of the presidential aides in the Vice President’s office may have been provoked by the Emir’s open endorsement of Osinbajo.
President Buhari, before he travelled had already personally approved the re-appointment of all the 35 aides and their deployment to other ministries as part of a re-organisation of the presidency proposed to him by the same top presidential aide who is believed to be engaging the VP in a power tussle.
But by Monday, few days after the Emir of Daura praised the VP for his loyalty and service, the Chief of Staff mounted pressure on the Secretary to the Government of the Federation that all the aides deployed to the ministries should be disengaged except those sent to the new ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management & Social Development.
Some sources said the SGF Boss Mustapha doubted that the president could have made a volte-face about the aides, after approving a redeployment earlier. Sources said he buckled under to carry out Abba Kyari’s order after a shouting march between him and the Chief of Staff on the matter.
Some sources said the moves to clip Osinbajo are all connected with positioning and jostling for 2023. And the orchestra conductors of the agenda, seen and unseen, are bent on making Osinbajo irrelevant before then or even annoy him to resign.
P.M. News learnt that those sacked were Personal Assistants, Special Assistants employed for the various agencies constitutionally under the office of the Vice President.
According to Daily Trust, an embarrassed Osinbajo had retrieved the letters from the aides, awaiting the arrival of President Buhari on 17 November, to confirm whether he truly ordered the sack of the aides.
“The letters were distributed to the affected aides through the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. They were not working within the precinct of the presidential villa,” the newspaper reported.
The next episode in the soap opera in the presidency continues after Buhari’s return on 17 November.