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Unease in presidency as VP Osinbajo comes under intense watch



Govt to spend N250m on VP Osinbajo’s gate house

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo may have come under intense watch over the brewing face off between President Muhammadu Buhari and Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Ripples Nigeria has gathered.

Osinbajo is caught in the cross-fire between the Presidency and acclaimed national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Tinubu, over who may have influenced his nomination as the country’s number two citizen.

He found himself in a rather awkward situation soon after Buhari’s biographer, Professor John Paden claimed in his book, “Muhammadu Buhari: Challenges of Leadership in Nigeria”, that President Buhari chose him (Osinbajo) as a running mate in the 2015 elections in spite of strong resistance from Tinubu.

The assertion has been vehemently refuted by Tinubu’s media team, with the strongest comments coming from Secretary to Lagos State government, Tunji Bello, who described Paden’s literary exercise as full of “mischief”, while reaffirming that Osinbajo was simply a creation of Bola Tinubu. No harsh words have been spared by others, particularly Yoruba leaders and interest groups, who have rallied around Tinubu in what is now an open confrontation with the presidency.

Read also: Niger Delta militants want to colonise Nigeria’s economy, Buhari asserts

Sources close to the seat of power tell Ripples Nigeria that the warmth that pervaded the ties between the President and his Vice in the early days of the administration have long disappeared. Indications to this effect emerged when the presidency began to notice that politicians were congregating more around the office of the Vice President than the President. Professor Paden even acknowledged this much in the book on Buhari, one reviewer noted.

“Naturally, the relationship between the duo is now a measured one. The Presidency is visibly shaken,” our source said.

The unease is palpable and the concern of Buhari’s close aides, we gather, is to keep sealed lips and ensure that sensitive and strategic matters pertaining to Mr President are treated with top secrecy, especially now that Osinbajo’s disposition has become increasingly questionable.

The cold war between Tinubu and Buhari, investigations show, is festering without let. The deepening schism is aggravated by jostling over 2019 elections. Though the President has refused to betray any emotions, close watchers are convinced that he is keen on pursuing a second term in office. The Southwest remains a very critical bloc and it is argued that his ambition may go up in smoke if Tinubu withdraws his support.

An aide admits that Tinubu is clearly bitter about the loss in Ondo guber primary and is convinced that the APC Chairman, Odigie-Oyegun, is only fighting a proxy war for Buhari. Having been described as “reckless”, and with the doors shut against him, Tinubu is reportedly activating his other political platforms namely Alliance for Democracy (AD) and Action Alliance (AA) for subsequent electoral battles, if the need arises. His game plan, though clandestine at the moment, includes courting long time enemies like Governor Ayo Fayose and Femi Fani-Kayode to stem Buhari’s advances in the Southwest.

Inside sources acknowledge that as the face-off deepens, Vice President Osinbajo may increasingly find himself distanced from his immediate boss who speaks sparingly but keeps his jokers close to his chest. Many doubt he will retain his positions if the battle between Buhari and Tinubu gets dirtier.

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