President Muhammadu Buhari last Friday returned to Nigeria from London, United Kingdom, where he went for a ‘private visit.’
While he was away, Aso Rock bubbled as usual. Among other events from the Nigerian seat of power, matters on the perceived rift between the president and his ‘loyal’ deputy, Osinbajo, dominated the media space.
Upon his return to Nigeria, Buhari was was confronted with a question on the sack of 35 aides to Osinbajo. State House correspondents, who were at the Presidential Wing of the airport, had shortly after Buhari’s arrival sought his response on the raging issue.
In his response, the President said they were sacked because the government was reorganizing its personnel. However, he described as unfortunate the interpretation Nigerians gave the development.
He had said, “They said 35 people were sacked in the Vice President’s office. We just created some ministries and we reorganized and people are giving it ethnic and political dimensions. It is unfortunate.”
Buhari may have succeeded in dismissing the issue of the aides sack with the wave of the hand. However, the question agitating the minds of many remain how far his clarification had gone to erase the perception of serious rumblings within the presidency.
Some have argued that the ethnic and political dimensions Buhari accused Nigerians of giving the sack of the 35 aides may not have arisen if the presidency was straightforward in addressing the matter.
Who ordinarily should be blamed in the matter? The presidency that first denied the aides sack only to reverse itself two days after sure created the room for absolute doubt on its integrity. Therefore, Nigerians who were left with no option but to make assumptions cannot be totally blamed.
The explanation on why the presidency decided to hand-carry a document all the way to the UK for Buhari to append his signature remains another thorny issue. Many are yet to find justifications for the act.
Other posers which query the President’s dispassionate disposition include: The removal of Osinbajo as Buhari’s Economic Management Team (EMT), the advice that he should seek approval before taking decisions on any agencies under his watch, and the reassigning of agencies initially under his control to other government officials.
Except the presidency gives Nigerians reasons to believe that all is well between President Buhari and Osinbajo, like was the case in their first term, citizens may continue to interpret the perceived power play in Aso Rock from ethnic and political dimensions.
Two other things:
‘The trials of Brother Osinbajo’
An opinion article by a certain columnist, Festus Adedayo, entitled ‘The Trials of Brother Osinbajo,’ was one the Vice President could not ignore.
The columnist had in the article said he received information that Osinbajo, a Senior Pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) had in a gathering with members of the church, prayed for the death of President Buhari when the latter was away on medical leave.
According to Adedayo, a confidante of Buhari who was at the gathering informed the president of Osinbajo’s ‘sinister plan.’ He alleged that the issue was the cause of the perceived breakdown in the relationship between Buhari and Osinbajo in recent time.
Osinbajo’s Senior Special Assistant on media and publicity, Laolu Akande, has since denied the allegations and even dared the columnist to state where the alleged prayer session took place and when.
The rumoured death prayer did well to drag Osinbajo into the Aso Rock fray once again.
Still on the certificate saga
The Supreme Court explanation on why it sacked the appeal by Atiku Abubakar against Buhari’s second term victory was one of the events that drew attention past week.
The apex court gave different reasons why it decided not to waste time on the appeal filed by Atiku and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against Buhari 2019.
Of all the explanations advanced by the apex court, a talking point remains Buhari’s secondary school certificate.
The court had held that Buhari did not err by not submitting his academic credentials to INEC and that no law required a candidate to submit his/her academic certificates to the electoral umpire before being allowed to contest the election.
It had also said that the constitution did not require one to possess a secondary school certificate to be qualified to run for the presidency, adding that schooling up to secondary school, without possessing the result of the final examination was sufficient.
In the eyes of critics, the Supreme Court judgment has raised the fundamental issue of revisiting the minimum qualification for such exalted office in a country where many are denied jobs for not possessing a university degree.