On Monday, the loud murmurings of several weeks on social media finally caught the attention of the Presidency.
The issue has been the quiet, but
sometimes quarrelsome debate between and among contending forces over
how much shine Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, had taken away from
President Muhammadu Buhari, since the latter embarked on a medical
vacation to the United Kingdom, on January, 19.
It would seem trivial, but the debate had been intense.
For many fans of Osinbajo, his ‘magic
wand’ must be the reason there appears to be some renewed vigour, hope,
and pace, in governance.
They were quick to point to his
‘diplomatic’ shuttles to the Niger Delta, a region the ailing President
had avoided lately for some unconvincing reasons. There is a belief that
his ‘wide’ consultations explain the relative calm that pervades the
zone, and the increasing volume of oil production that is helping to
stabilize the nation’s revenue.
Osinbajo’s recent push in the Forex
market, is also reported as the reason the Naira has been saved from
further bashing from other international currencies. The Naira had
gained some 15% value in 4 days, after a long spell on the downside.
Other supporters have added, that there
is a renewed confidence in the economy with Osinbajo’s aggressive
pursuit of ease-of-doing-business agenda, which hopes to remove
unnecessary bottlenecks on the way of would-be investors, and visitors
to the country.
The icing his fans claim, is the outcome
of the final phase of the Rivers re-run poll, which seemed to have also
restored some confidence in the electoral process. The trouncing of a
ruling party Chieftain, Rotimi Amaechi, even in his own area, is said to
owe largely to Osinbajo’s insistence that the Independent National
Electoral Commission, INEC, must deliver on its integrity mandate.
Osinbajo’s perceived brilliance was
bound to raise eyebrows, and it did create some measure of discomfort
within contending forces in the ruling party.
On Monday, the Presidency speaking
through Babafemi Ojudu, Buhari’s Special Adviser on Political Matters,
reacted sharply to insinuations that Osinbajo may be out-performing the
vacationing President. He described as ‘mischief makers’ those who by
their positions, held that the Acting President had done appreciably
well in leading differently.
“There is nothing that has been done
since the Vice President started acting, that is not something that
started far back in the past.
“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.,” Ojudu said.
“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. They are the ones
promoting this kind of divisive tendencies,” he added for emphasis.
Rationalizing the import of power
distribution at the Presidency, Ojudu said: “He (Osinbajo) 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 and the same.
“He (Buhari) 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 decisions 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 an opinion? That does not mean he is not in charge.”
The Presidency betrayed some emotions, undoubtedly. There are obvious jitters within the fold.
Perhaps, without knowing it, Acting
President Osinbajo broke the first Law of Power. He had, for all
practical purposes, taken some shine off his principal.
If anything, there is a very strong
perception that, being erudite, he has brought more panache and energy
to governance. His style appears to engender an environment for fertile
discourse which reverberates in the, ‘We hear you loud and clear,’
He is seen as more accessible,
demystifying the office of the President, and reaching out more closely
to the citizens. True, he mingled with the populace in the ‘dreaded’
Niger Delta, and even took a stroll at the International Airport, in
Lagos, personally investigating why services may be out-of-order.
Osinbajo, broke the first Law of Power! And, it is about who should take credit for a job well done.
His ‘failure’ provides a disturbing
insight into the contradictions of power, and the on-going power play in
the Presidency. It speaks of the many challenges that hold the country
down and the impending battle to mobilize and win over Nigerians in the
concerted effort to build a great nation.
Osinbajo’s ‘failure’ informs the greater need to demystify government, and bring governance closer to the people.