That all is not well with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is not news, but the new development is the connection of his godfather and political benefactor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to the whole crisis.
Osinbajo, who is reportedly having a running battle with the Aso Villa cabal is also said not to be in the good book of Tinubu over his presidential ambition.
It was gathered that Tinubu had once approached the Vice President to ask if he was nursing any presidential ambition to which the latter replied in the negative.
Tinubu was said to have come across a video recording of a directive by Osinbajo to his political associates on his plan to start his campaign for his presidential ambition almost two years into the tenure of his boss.
The development was said to have angered Tinubu who noted that the Vice President cannot be trusted.
It was due to the disagreement that the vice president’s nominee for the commissionership slot in Lagos State, Mr. Obafemi George, was rejected by the State House of Assembly.
Besides, information gathered by Sunday Independent further revealed that some associates of the Vice President had sought information on certain dealings of Tinubu while working abroad, with the intention of using it against his benefactor during the presidential election.
Already, President Muhammadu Buhari reportedly met recently with Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande, former Interim National Chairman of the APC, during which he complained about certain actions of the Vice President, and allegedly asked the duo to prevail on Osinbajo to resign his appointment from the cabinet.
While Akande was said to have opposed such action, Tinubu allegedly supported the President and claimed that nothing was wrong with Osinbajo quitting if found to be culpable in some actions taken behind the president and which Buhari was not happy about.
Already, several actions to further humble the Vice President out of office are in the pipeline. These include the sack of his associates from government and the plan not to renew the tenure of the present Chairman of the Federal Internal Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babtunde Fowler.
The recent query issued to Fowler by the Chief of Staff (CoS) to the president, Abba Kyari, on the agency’s inability to meet revenue projection target, is said to have a link with the political orchestra being planned against the Vice President.
Fowler’s query was part of the underground moves by Buhari and the cabal in the presidency to systematically undo Osinbajo in government, especially when the query meant to be an official document was leaked to the press.
“What should have been ‘a top government secret’ was leaked to bring down the FIRS boss, who was a member of the Economic Management Team (EMT), and to actually spite Osinbajo,” said a source.
It was further gathered that the retention of former Director General of Department of State Service (DSS), Lawal Daura, in the Presidency as adviser to the president, had strengthen the opposition against the Vice President.
Daura allegedly wrote reports which the cabal wanted to use to nail the Vice President. Daura despite his sack has continued to retain his official quarters in the Villa and working directly with the President.
Besides, the plan to deal with Osinbajo informed the decision not to give him any ministerial slot and the refusal of the president to retain his nominee and former Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, said to be a close associate of the Vice President.
But, while the anti-Osinbajo action was being implemented by the presidency, sources close to the Vice President said he was unperturbed and believe he still enjoys the confidence of the president.
Although, there are fears that the ongoing hostility could affect the implementation of the economic programmes of the Federal Government, sources said the cabal is not yet done until it punishes Osinbajo for actions taken while he stood in for his boss as Acting President.
However, the Media Adviser to Tinubu, Mr. Tunde Rahman, rose stoutly in defence of his principal, saying he cannot undo the Vice President.
While speaking with Sunday INDEPENDENT on Saturday, Rahman said all speculations on the alleged rift between Tinubu and Osinbajo remained in the realms of conjecture.
“There is no truth in the allegation that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is against the Vice President. There is nothing stopping the Vice President from nursing a presidential ambition. If he wants to run, let him run. We are all watching and waiting. It is all a bundle of lies that Asiwaju Tinubu is unhappy about that. People are just politicising the situation. Tinubu cannot muscle his own boy in any way”, he said.
Osinbajo’s travail with the presidency cabal started when he sacked Daura, unarguably one of the ‘untouchables’ in the presidency, while Buhari was receiving medical treatment abroad.
Presidency sources noted that the Vice President was not forgiven for daring to move so decisively against Daura. Osinbajo also committed another unthinkable ‘sin’ when he forwarded the name of Walter Onoghen to the Senate to be confirmed when it was clear his role in acting capacity would expire without confirmation.
It was said to be a mischief from the presidency in the first place to have appointed Onoghen in acting capacity, the first of such strange appointment that showed he was no favourite of the cabal to be made Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN).
The first sign of trouble arising from those incidents was the budget being sent all the way to London for Buhari to sign into law on his hospital bed while Osinbajo was acting.
Last week, President Buhari announced a crack team of economists, led by Prof. Doyin Salami, as members of his Economic Advisory Council (EAC). The team replaces the EMT headed by Osinbajo.
Aside from Salami, a respected Professor of Economics at the Lagos Business School, who sits on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s monetary policy board, the team also includes Dr. Mohammed Sagagi as vice chairman, a former presidential chief economic adviser, Prof. Ode Ojowu, a former IMF Country Representative for Sierra Leone, Dr. Iyabo Masha, and a former CBN governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo. Others are Mr. Bismark Rewane, Dr. Shehu Yahaya and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Development Policy, Dr. Mohammed Adaya Salisu, who doubles as the team’s Secretary.
The new team, which reports directly to the president, is to advise on economic policy matters, including fiscal analysis, economic growth and a range of internal and global economic issues, working with the relevant cabinet members and heads of monetary and fiscal agencies.
While many Nigerians highlight the positives of the action, there had been greater measure of dissents, who believe that the President’s action, in the same fell swoop, was sheer propaganda aimed at further cutting down on Osinbajo’s already lean powers.
The deduction is that the latest move is part of a salvo aimed at whittling the importance of the office of the Vice President and indeed, the occupant of the office, all as part of the game-plan ahead of the next political dispensation in 2023.