The presidency yesterday raised the alarm over an alleged plot to cause a division between President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
It said that the government would not allow those it described as mischief makers to have their way. “Some people are trying to promote division and we are not going to allow that. This president and vice president worked together in tandem and we know they both have confidence in this nation,” the presidency said.
Reacting to trending discussions in the polity with some Nigerians comparing Buhari and Osinbajo, Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Babafemi Ojodu, said the development was the handiwork of those who do not wish the country well.
“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 an economic team, no policy, nothing are the ones saying this. It is the policies we are now implementing and they are seeing the result. It is not a question of one person being better than the other person.
“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 VP took up the mandate and went to the Niger Delta, it is the initiative of the president not that of the vice president,” Ojodu said.
According to the presidential aide, these “mischief makers” were responsible for the crisis in the polity and promotion of divisive tendencies, a development that would deny Nigerians the opportunity to benefit from the dividends of democracy.
Ojodu said Osinbajo “consults the president on a daily basis” concerning major decisions. “This is a joint ticket, the president of Nigeria remains the president of Nigeria. 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 a decision on it’, that does not mean he is not in charge.”
Some of the changes that have taken place since Osinbajo became the acting president include a rapid return of peace to the Niger Delta due to his visits and parleys in the region. These visits have seen to the cessation of hostilities, thereby paving the way for the availability of gas that has improved electricity supply. Under Osinbajo, the foreign exchange crisis is being tackled with the naira appreciating from N520 to about N420 to a dollar yesterday. Unlike Buhari who neither commented nor took a decisive action to rein in killer herdsmen, Osinbajo quickly summoned the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, when there were fresh killings in southern Kaduna.
On timing of the changes taking place, when the president is on an extended vacation in the United Kingdom (UK), the aide said: “One other thing you have to see is that if you give someone a responsibility, he must be able to show to the president that his not being around 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 the president is away. And the president could also have given the mandate that the vice president should let nothing go wrong. 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. It is not that one person is better than the other, certainly not.”
Ojodu said he had 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.”
Reacting to clerics in Katsina allegedly propagating information on the president being poisoned, Ojodu urged reporters to be mindful of their choice of stories from the social media, as the channels, according to him, are becoming factory for fake news in Nigeria.
“A lot of things you see on social media can never be true. I saw them, I read them and I assessed them using the prism of these factors, those indices we use to analyse stories in the media and found out that they cannot be true.
“For example they said somebody kept N77 trillion somewhere, imagine that. What is the total value of Nigeria’s economy? Because somebody is keeping N77 trillion, some people want to poison him so that they can inherit the money. I mean we have a president whose integrity nobody in this country can question.”
According to Ojodu, “as a young officer, a middle officer, a senior officer and as a head of state till now, nobody has been able to tarnish Buhari’s 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.”