In Active Capacity!


    Last week’s sack of a former Director General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura, was a clear and unmistaken message from the office of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, writes Shola Oyeyipo

    As if taking a cue from an American author and motivational speaker, Doreen Virtue, who said: “Once you have a major success with assertiveness, you learn that it’s a much healthier path than being a doormat to the insensitive folks. You gain respect for yourself, have more time for your priorities, and develop authentic and healthier relationships,” Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, last week distinguished himself just by making one hard choice.

    Although it is not clear whether it is providence or by sheer happenstance, Osinbajo has always shown a rare courage expected of a leader in a country like Nigeria each time he stood in for his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari, who has been away to London, the United Kingdom on a 10-day vacations.

    Given a different circumstance, the siege on the National Assembly by men of the Directorate of State Security (DSS) under the sacked DSS Director, Lawal Daura, would not only have been clandestinely managed, but swept under the carpet for different considerations. But that did not happen with Osinbajo. He asserted himself and stood for that which was right.

    On his Twitter handle, Osinbajo posted thus: “The unauthorised takeover of the NASS complex was a gross violation of the rule of law and all acceptable notions of law and order. Persons within the law enforcement apparatus, who participated in this travesty will be identified and subjected to disciplinary action.”

    Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, had also noted that Daura’s sack was carried out with the consent of the president, however being at the center of it and quoted as describing the DSS action as gross violation of constitutional order and that the act was not authorised by the presidency, had attracted accolades directly to the VP.

    According to the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, “The siege was an act of cowardice by those seeking to carry out an illegal impeachment of the leadership of the Senate in flagrant disregard of the law.” He therefore commended how Osinbajo reacted to the development.

    Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar also commended Osinbajo for listening to what he called “the clarion call of Nigerians” and also for taking action to “halt the illegal and anti-democratic siege” of the National Assembly by men of the Department of State Security.

    According to Atiku, by sacking Daura, the acting president has given meaning to the “cries of Nigerians” that we will not tolerate such anti-democracy actions. He therefore urged all statesmen and political leaders to put aside partisanship and rally round the acting president.”

    The list of commentators with positive disposition to the development is long. It ranges from political office holders across party lines and many ordinary citizens, who applauded the VP’s assertiveness.

    Osinbajo has shown more than a passing penchant for abhorrence of corruption. In fact, the sacking of former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal; and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ambassador Ayo Oke, was based on the report of a three-man panel led by him that investigated them.

    Even if the presidency claims to have had a hand in Daura’s sack, how would it explain that despite the obvious roles played by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, in the reinstatement fugitive former chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, who was dismissed from service over pension fund fraud, he and many other persons involved in that national embarrassment never got fired till date.

    The handling of the alleged effort of the Babagana Kingibe-led Presidential Review Panel to siphon $44m intervention fund, belonging to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the way the case of a former Department of State Services (DSS) boss, Ita Ekpenyong, who allegedly took part in corruption and mismanagement of funds amounting to $9m of the $30m operation fund from former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, was addressed and the handling of the alleged diversion of over $21m into a private pocket by the sacked DSS Director, Daura, never indicated that the government was given to sanctioning erring cabinet members.

    This is as many pundits hold the view that President Buhari and all those who aspire to leadership in Nigeria must learn from the way Osinbajo attends to national issues with dispatch. At every opportunity in his acting capacity, he adds more pep to leadership and at the same time makes some deft political moves that provide credit for the APC.

    At some point during the president’s medical vacations, he made efforts to sort out the issue of resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta region that led to dwindling revenue from oil production. Then, Osibanjo visited Oporoza, headquarters of Gbaramatu Kingdom, home of Chief Government Ekpemupolo a.k.a Tompolo in Warri South-west local government area of Delta State on a fact-finding mission in January.

    The second leg of his peace and dialogue tour of the oil-rich Niger Delta region, took him to Bayelsa, Rivers and Imo States. It had far-reaching impacts, because he did not only reaffirm government’s commitment to addressing the sufferings of the people of the Niger Delta, where Nigeria gets its major income, he openly agreed that the region has been largely neglected and promised that the federal government would discontinue the ugly trend.

    Osibanjo, who went to Gbaramatu in company with the Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and the Minister of State (Petroleum), Dr. Ibe Emmanuel Kachikwu, said the Niger Delta people have a genuine need as special economic zone for special developmental attention.

    Later in Bayelsa, on February 12, he assured the people that the federal government would provide rapid development for oil-producing communities in the region.

    According to Osinbajo, while addressing Bayelsa State stakeholders’ meeting, since oil is the dominant source of foreign exchange earnings in Nigeria, it is only proper that the country adds value to crude oil. To him, adding value to crude oil will bring enormous economic benefits to the oil-bearing communities.

    The tour train berthed in Rivers State between February 13 and 14 in Port Harcourt, the state capital, where Osinbajo held another town hall meeting with governors, former governors, community leaders, women and various youth groups in the region.

    He underscored the fact that Rivers and the Niger Delta region were critical to the development and stability of the country. He also urged vandals of petroleum infrastructure to desist from such acts, assuring the people that, unlike at any time in the past the current administration was prepared to ensure that the needs of the region were met.

    Buhari, on November 10, 2016, appointed Onnoghen as acting Chief Judge of Nigeria (CJN) following the retirement of Justice Mahmud Mohammed at the attainment of the mandatory age of 70 years. The National Judicial Council had earlier forwarded Onnoghen’s name to the president as the new CJN based on the recommendation of the Federal Judicial Service Commission, but he remained in acting capacity until Osinbajo forwarded his name to the lawmakers and he got the confirmation.

    In another instance of personal example, Osinbajo rejected the new official residence built for the vice-president by the administration of Goodluck Jonathan. According to his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, Osinbajo was satisfied with living in Aguda House built in the 1990s by the General Ibrahim Babangida administration

    It is also on record that Osinbajo was the one who got the support of the duo of the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Hon. Yakubu Dogora, to approve the federal government’s $1 billion Eurobond.

    The Eurobond, amounting to $4.5 billion, formed part of the federal government’s three-year $30 billion external borrowing programme, which was rejected by the National Assembly last year.

    On Thursday, February 16, a few days after its issue, the $1 billion Eurobond started trading on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and the offer was oversubscribed about eight times, with the order book closing at approximately $7.7 billion. The listing also secured high quality investors’ support from the U.S. and Europe and it is expected to support Nigeria in financing its long-term infrastructure development.

    It is for the many reasons of how he has added some dignity to leadership in acting capacity that some social media commentators have suggested that President Buhari should rather have him complete his tenure while he takes credit for any success recorded.

    In a post by Blessed Abemum, where he asked: “Should President Buhari still extend his stay in UK so that Prof Osinbajo can continue as acting president?” Seventy-five per cent of the respondents answered in the affirmative while only 25 per cent would prefer that the president carries on.

    Although Osinbajo is vice-president, from his acting capacity, he has proven that effective leadership is possible in Nigeria and that many disturbing cases often swept under the carpet are matters of political will and the ability to make hard choices by the leader.

    But camp Osinbajo is pushing back saying that his actions were not possible without Buhari’s support. They say: President Buhari provided the enabling environment for the Ag President to act so decisively saying that Obasanjo, YarAdua and Jonathan never made their Vice Presidents Acting Presidents – so the full credit must go to President Buhari