There was disquiet in the presidency on Wednesday following alleged sack of 35 aides of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo by President Muhammadu Buhari.
No statement was issued by the presidency either confirming or refuting the sack of the vice president’s aides.
According to credible sources, the aides of the vice president had earlier been notified of their impending sack in September while the presidency began the implementation on Tuesday.
It was learnt that even when Osinbajo was hoping that the alleged sack of 35 of the aides would be reversed by the president, some of the affected persons on Tuesday had their Presidential Villa access tags retrieved from them as they reported for work.
Some of them, who reported for work, were said to have been approached at the gate by security personnel who seized their tags upon confirming that their names were contained in the list of sacked aides apparently provided for them.
An online medium which on Wednesday reported that Buhari approved the sack of at least 35 out of over 80 aides in the vice president’s office, informed that the affected aides, who were issued appointment letters in August, included some senior special assistants, special assistants, personal assistants and technical assistants.
Some of the aides were said to have left their offices by themselves on Wednesday and returned home to avoid being embarrassed.
A source in the vice president’s office who preferred to remain anonymous said that some of the aides who came to work on Tuesday left on their own accord to prevent any incident with security personnel.
Many of Osinbajo’s aides had earlier been sent out from the Villa and accommodated in various ministries and parastatals, which reduced their access to the Villa.
When contacted the president’s media aides refused to speak on the development.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, neither confirmed nor denied the development when asked for his reaction.
He said he was just emerging from Wednesday’s meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and had read the reports just like others.
Reports have been rife that since their re-election, Osinbajo has fallen out of favour with some elements close to President Buhari who are undermining his authority, a situation which has been blamed for the dissolution and replacement of the Economic Management Team hitherto headed by the vice president.
Daily Independent had earlier reported that members of the cabal in the presidency want the National Social Investment Programme (N-SIP) to be taken away from the office of the vice president and handled by the newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
Speaking with our correspondent in September, a credible source in the presidency said the deal has already been perfected and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo may no longer be in charge of the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) except President Muhammadu Buhari intervenes.
According to our source, members of the cabal are not comfortable with the popularity the vice president was getting with the scheme especially among the masses, hence the need to move it away from his office.
The Federal Government introduced a portfolio of social investment programmes in 2015 under the office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo with the goal of taking millions of Nigerians out of poverty.
TraderMoni is an initiative of the Federal Government, through Bank of Industry, and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme.
The programme is part of the Federal Government social intervention aimed at funding micro business in the country through soft loans beginning from N10, 000 to N100,000.
The programme was launched in August while the vice president began his tour in Osun State on September 3, 2018, barely three weeks to the Osun State governorship election.
In promoting the scheme, the vice president has visited markets across the country where he interacted with the traders.
Our source said the cabal believes the scheme is giving Osinbajo undue advantage and popularity across the length and breadth of the country.
“Yes, I can confirm that there are plans to move the scheme away from the vice president’s office. I don’t know whether it has to do with 2023 presidency, but the fact is that some power brokers in the presidency are not comfortable with the popularity the vice president is getting from the masses whenever he goes to promote the scheme, hence the resolve to move it to the new ministry.”
Reacting to the sack of Osinbajo’s aides, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), human rights lawyer, said he is not surprised by the development as he had predicted that it will happen before now.
“I normally read situations and I say my own. Everything I have predicted in the last five years have always come to pass. I have made it clear and it is resounding now”, he said.
On the options available before Osinbajo, Ozekhome said he can either fight the cabal like a man or quietly resign his position as vice president.
While making reference to the fight between former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former President Olusegun Obasanjo during their second term, Ozekhome said Nigerians were aware Atiku fought his then boss both in the courts and at the political scene which saved him from being humiliated out of office.
“Osinbajo has two options.
The first option is to get ready to pull his punches and fight like a man that has manhood. He should fight squarely, frontally and brutally like a man with manhood.
“The second option is that he should honourably resign as vice president of Nigeria before they pour more ashes on his head and before they bespatter his white garment with more muds and more excrement. In these two options, there are no grey areas at all. They are just the two options available.
“He should either put his hat in the ring to fight the cabal squarely. Atiku fought Obasanjo squarely to the knowledge of everybody in this country. He fought brutally whether in court or on the political scene. In every way, Atiku fought Obasanjo to a standstill and everybody was aware.
“So, Osinbajo should be ready to do what Atiku did by fighting with all he can but if he cannot, he should take the honourable way out by resigning quietly. Otherwise, he will be so rubbished and reduced in significance and importance that he will not even be accorded the status of being a glorified messenger.
“In a situation where the president can send Osinbajo to his home town to go and witness the turbaning of a small chief and documents are being sent to the president to sign Nigerian laws in London, it is a clear case that when the market is on fire, you do not tell the deaf and the blind. They will know when they feel the heat”, he said