‘Opposition trying to cause division between President and his vice’
The Presidency yesterday described those hailing Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and criticising President Muhammadu Buhari as enemies of the government who are trying to create division between the two topmost state officials.
President Buhari has been on vacation in the United Kingdom since January 19. He is also undergoing medical tests. Vice President Osinbajo has been acting for him.
Some Nigerians have been commenting on the situation in the country since Osinbajo started acting for his boss, claiming that things are better.
But Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters Babafemi Ojudu said Nigerians were seeing results of the policies introduced by the government, under the same Presidency.
He said Prof. Osinbajo consults with President Buhari and that since it is a joint ticket, all achievements should go to the government.
According to him, without Buhari, Osinbajo would not have been acting president.
He said: “I think it is thoughtless. I also see it as a ploy by the opposition to cause an unnecessary division. It is a joint ticket; the president and the vice president were elected based on the manifesto of the party and since they were sworn in they have been committed to implementing that manifesto.
“The same people who said we never had economic team, no policy, nothing, are the ones saying this. It is now that the policies we are implementing are maturing and they are seeing the result. It is not a question of one person being better than the other person.
“I will give you an example. There is nothing that has been done since the vice president started acting that is not something that started far back in the past. A good example is the Niger Delta initiative. The President called the vice president and said I am giving you the mandate, go into the Niger Delta, meet with everyone who is a stakeholder, all the communities, talk to the militants and make sure you solve this problem for the benefit of Nigerians.
“We are losing 1.2 million barrels of oil per day; all the gas pipelines powering the turbines are being blown up. And the President has said unless and until we resolve this problem, we will not get out of recession. The vice president took up the mandate and went to the Niger Delta. It is the initiative of Mr. President not that of the Vice President.
“These are mischief makers, those who do not wish this country well, who are always promoting crisis, who will not allow the people to benefit from this democracy, are the ones promoting this kind of divisive tendencies.”
Ojudu added: “Almost on a daily basis, there are things he still needs to consult the President I mean it’s not a regular thing but major decisions he still has to consult Mr. President. The president is still the president.”
He insisted that Buhari is still in charge even on medical vacation.
“He is in charge but like I said earlier on, this is a joint ticket. The president of Nigeria remains the president of Nigeria. He is acting because it is one government and the same. He is more experienced, he has been in the game longer than the vice president and if there are major issues that he needs to take decision on, he could call on him and say, ‘sir, what do you think about this; we are about to take decision on it, do you have opinion?’ That does not mean he is not in charge,” Ojudu said.
He added: “Again, one other thing you have to see is that if you give someone a responsibility, he must be able to show to Mr. President that despite that he is not around, it is not going to create any vacuum. He can then decide not to sleep at all, all through the time the president is away just to show him that he is capable of ensuring that Nigeria goes on well while he is away.
“And the President could also have given the mandate, let nothing go wrong, I believe in you, I appointed you as my vice president; you must make sure that you do this. If you have a boss who gives you an assignment you will want to impress him and Nigerians as well and that for me is what has happened. ýIt is not that one person is better than the other; certainly not.”
According to him, those reports were aimed at causing division in the Presidency.
He stressed that the Presidency would not allow those behind the reports to succeed.
“I’m telling you that I have seen some things sent out intentionally to cause some kind of division within the Presidency. Some people who have been condemning everybody in the past, I see them on twitter and on facebook and generally on social media. Some people are trying to promote division and we are not going to allow that.
“This president and vice president work together in tandem and I know they both have confidence in this nation,” he said.
Opposition politicians and some former officials of the previous administration, have been extolling Osinbajo, suggesting that the president could continue to stay away.
Among those in this group is Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, who said the acting President should “do away with the cabal around the president.”
Another person in this category is Reno Omokri, who said: “We have an action Acting President and a blaming real President!”
Reacting to some clerics in Katsina State claiming that the president was poisoned, Ojudu said: “The way I will react to that is that those of you in the media should be careful what you pick from the social media now, it is becoming a factory for fake news in the Nigeria.
“A lot of things you see on social media can never be true. I saw that, I read it and I assessed it using the prism of these factors, those indices we use to analyse stories in the media and found out that, it cannot be true.
“For example, they said somebody kept N77 trillion somewhere; imagine that. What is the total value of Nigeria’s economy that because of somebody keeping N77 trillion, therefore, some people want to poison him so that they can inherit the money.
“I mean we have a president that nobody in this country can question his integrity. As a young officer, a middle officer, a senior officer and as a head of state till now, nobody has been able to tarnish his image or come up with anything.
“For me, it is not even worth responding to. As soon as I read it, I dismissed it. It is so ridiculous. Again it is the handiwork of our enemies, the problem is fakeness has almost become global and universal, other countries are experiencing it. Those who want to destabilise the country they come up with all kinds of stupid stories, some kind of unimaginable stories so we should just discountenance those things.”