By Muyiwa Olayinka
By all standards, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) is an accomplished man. A cerebral, and an intelligent man (graduating with second class upper degree in law in the University), a lawyer by training a well-rounded man from the teaching profession to private practice and public service, and by fate, currently the Number two man (Vice President of the Federal republic of Nigeria).
A successful family man blessed with children is married to Dolapo (née Soyode) Osinbajo, a granddaughter of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the revered late sage and leader of Yoruba. Mr Osinbajo a devout Christian is an anointed and serving Pastor of one of the biggest Pentecostal Churches in Africa, Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).
As it is, Mr. Yemi Osinbajo is wearing two caps, and as a matter of fact, he has two bosses. One is the President of Nigeria, Mr Muhammadu Buhari and the other is the General Overseer of RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adeboye.
As former Commissioner for Justice in Lagos state for eight years that introduced far reaching reforms in the judicial sector, he is expected to bring his wealth of experience to the national level, he’s also involve in the economic planning and formulation of policies.
Between 2015 and mid-2019, he was the head of Economic Management Team, comprises of experts to drive the policy thrust of the government, also heads the Nation’s relief agency, NEMA, Nigeria Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies NIPPS, National Boundary Commission, Niger Delta Power Holding Company to mention a few.
In addition he was given the task to supervise the government’s poverty alleviation scheme: The Social Investment Programs that include the N-Power program, the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), which consists of the MarketMoni, FarmerMoni and TraderMoni schemes.
His competence came to bear when on May 9, 2017 he became the Acting President of Nigeria during President Buhari’s medical leave. He embarked on diplomatic shuttles to douse tension in major trouble spots in Nigeria, especially in the South East region with the separatists group of IPOB demanding secession from the Union, and the South South the center of Niger Delta crises. He took some far reaching decisions that were deliberately delayed by his boss for political exigency.
For example, in February 7 2017, he sent the name of the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, to the National Assembly for confirmation as the substantive CJN, and he was duly confirmed. Onnoghen was sworn in on March 7, 2017 who had been acting CJN since November 10 2016, following the retirement of Justice Mahmud Mohammed at the attainment of the mandatory 70-year retirement age. The reason why Buhari deliberately delayed Onnoghen’s confirmation is unknown and suspect until he was later removed in a controversial manner.
On 7 August 2018, Osinbajo fired the Director General of Department of State Security Service boss DSS, Lawal Daura for illegal invasion of National Assembly by armed and masked operatives of the department. Osinbajo threatened to resign if Duara was not replaced; President Buhari who was on medical leave reluctantly acceded to it. These two actions irked the powers to be in the Presidency when Daura was replaced with Matthew Seiyefa, but was eventually kicked out in September of the same year when Buhari resumed from his medical. Yusuf Magaji Bichi is currently the Director General of DSS.
Osinabjo in his estimation took these decisions in good faith with a patriotic zeal but not knowing he had incurred the wrath of the power brokers and “the cabal” in government. They read meanings to these actions and saw in him a usurper that was trying to entrench himself politically hence undermining Mr. President. He failed to understand that in this structurally defective and disjointed Nigerian system, the North does play with political power and has consistently used it as a bargaining chip in the union from independence.
Nigeria structurally divided along religious, North South dichotomy and ethnic lines, it influences almost every decision making in governance and public sector. This political dichotomy and understanding produced Buhari from the North of Fulani ethnic stock and Osinbajo from the South of Yoruba ethnic stock. This rivalry has largely dominated Nigerian politics and the public sector since independence and it has been jealously guarded by the proponents on the divide.
The line had been drawn by the cabal and the “hawks” in the system and was waiting for the right time to reduce his political stature. Of course they could not take any action that will jeopardize the chances of Buhari Osinbajo ticket at the general election that was drawing so close. However not leaving anything to chance, Osinbajo’s feather was ruffled with public indictment in the N5.8billion NEMA Rice scandal, for emergency intervention of food security to the northeast in June 2017, when he was the acting president.
The hawks have bared their fangs!
This public indictment by the Federal House of Representatives should have sent a warning to politically naïve Osinbajo but failed to heed the first salvo fired at him. As if this is not enough, God miraculously saved him with two near death air crashes within seven months. On June 7, 2018, a chopper that was conveying him from the Nigeria Customs Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada in Abuja, was forced to land, few seconds after takeoff. The second happened in February 2019 while on campaign train to Kabba area of Kogi state, when the helicopter he was flying with crash landed and escaped with a stroke of luck.
As a spiritual man, he should have known God was warning him. His spiritual father, Pastor Adeboye ought to have advised him not seek second term with Buhari and returned back to the ministry. If Baba Adeboye had warned him about all these signs and he refused to heed to the warnings, Osinbajo should have himself to blame. But if Baba refused to warn his godson, he should be blamed for the current travails of Osinbajo.
His current travails.
After the inauguration of the two of them (Buhari and Osinbajo) for second term and in a swift political move, President Buhari scrapped the Osinbajo led Economic Management Team and replaced it with Economic Advisory Council with Prof Doyin Salami as the Chairman. Osinbajo chaired the EMT, which superintended over the economic programs of the present administration for almost five years.
In the same vein, President Muhammadu Buhari directed him to, henceforth, seeks presidential approvals for agencies under his supervision, and although the President is empowered to give final approvals which were not followed during the first term, this sudden U turn speaks volume.
With these steps taken, it seems Osinbajo is being stripped of even peripheral responsibilities and consigned to the desk of irrelevance. In the days to come, it is ominous that more shocking revelations await the Vice President in this political drama that is unfolding. It appears condolence visits and food-sampling in markets are now functions of the cerebral Osinbajo. This destructive political imbroglio in the presidency will deprive average Nigerians of reaping democratic dividends they earnestly yearn for.