At last Thursday’s meeting of NEC, in Abuja, two governors, one from the Southwest and another from the Southeast expressed confidence in the VP’s leadership and asked President Buhari to clarify that the new Economic Advisory Council is not going to subordinate a statutory body such as the NEC.
The governors are hinging their advocacy on the fact that the VP has been an advocate of states’ substantial autonomy within the federal system and do not wish for that effort to be thrashed in the new scheme of things.
It emerged yesterday that President Buhari has invited the Vice President to see him before he departs for the United Nations General Assembly programmes in New York, tomorrow.
A source in the Villa said that the VP and his principal are still on same page, except that there are interests in the Villa that are bent on causing confusion. The source said the VP had an inkling of the recent events that tend to limit his reach and sphere, but did not know it will begin to play out so soon. The source admitted that at the root of whatever is playing out now, and what will emerge more with time, is the agitation for 2023.
On insinuation that some persons are trying to pay the Vice President back for some actions he took as Acting President when Buhari was away on leave of absence, for instance, the sacking of former Director General of the Department of State Security Services (DSS), Lawan Daura, and the crowing of former Chief Justice of the Federation, Walter Onnoghen when it became an embarrassment to government, the source said whatever is happening now has little to do with the Onnoghen’s matter, after all, Onnoghen had ruled in favour of Buhari before in a previous election petition.
The source, however, agreed that the sack of Daura actually ruffled some persons who thought they could get away with every act of impunity. But he reminded that upon his return in August 2017, President Buhari commended the VP for holding forth while he was away, when he said: “He used his intellect to run all over the place. I was seeing him 24 hours on NTA.”
When the Vice President survived a chopper accident during the campaigns, President Buhari again acknowledged his selfless service when he said: “We give glory to Almighty God for sparing your life. I’m impressed by your tenacious spirit, which enabled you to continue on your campaign engagements, despite the shock of the crash. I’m proud of our partnership and your unalloyed loyalty and your commitment to the service of Nigeria. That you proceeded with your engagements, despite the accident, is a testimony of your passion for service to country and a reflection of your admirable spiritual fervour. May God continue to protect you and all those on board with you, bless your lives and grant you more good health and long life to serve our country even more.”
But all that eulogies may not matter to vested interests that are bent on succeeding the President come 2023. And they are doing everything to make the Villa uncomfortable for any politician who may remind them that the presidency should be on its way down South after Buhari’s eight years.
The Villa source said that is the crux of the matter. On rumour that the cabal was shopping for a new Vice, the source said President Buhari will never agree to that, but powermongers will keep trying to reduce the influence of the VP whichever way possible. The idea is to provoke a dispute in the Villa and exploit it.
Meanwhile, Vice President Osinbajo has clarified that the NEC and the new Economic Advisory Council are for the benefit of the President. He said interaction between the two will promote the much needed synergy in government.