A group, Coalition for Peaceful Election, on Wednesday cautioned politicians against casting aspersions on the integrity and patriotic strides of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
Mr Sylvester Ayodele, the Executive Director of the group, made the plea in a statement issued in Lagos.
Ayodele spoke against the backdrop of some allegations aimed at smearing the character of Osinbajo in the build up to the 2019 general elections.
He said: “One person they have tried so much to taint is Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
“They have tried everything from accusing him of embezzling public funds; to attempting to break the cordial relationship between him and APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”
According to him, a reliable source close to the PDP hierarchy mentioned the plan to destabilise the southwest region by planting mistrust between Osinbajo and Tinubu.
He said that the coalition did not take Nigeria for granted, hence the need to state the facts about the accusations.
“The first thing is that the House of Representatives never accused the vice president of corruption or embezzlement of funds.
“The only accusation is that the funds he approved for the emergency situation in the northeast were not budgeted.
“The truth, however, is that the funds in question, meant to pay for food supply to internally displaced persons, was an emergency and was approved in two tranches,” he added.
According to him, the first was N5 billion which was drawn via the National Food Security Programme, for which request was raised by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria as the facilitator of the programme.
Ayodele said that was at a time when the displaced persons and their host communities faced severe food shortages throughout the North East, as a result of successive poor harvests and abandoned farmlands.
He added that it was at a time the World Food Programme (WFP) had issued a warning that it would be reducing its vital support to about 1.8 million IDPs by more than 80 per cent.
“There was an immediate need to distribute grains to IDPs.
“The only way to obtain the 30,000 Metric Tonnes required was to resort to the National Food Security Progamme (NFSP) earlier established by the Federal Government as a means of shoring up its strategic grain reserves.
“The second tranche was N800 million approved for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for bagging, transportation, tracking, security, and contingency costs to handle the grains for the IDPs.
“On account of the emergency nature of the procurement, these presidential approvals were well within the clear constitutional authority of the then Acting President Osinbajo.”
On the alleged plot to create mistrust between Osinbajo and Tinubu and their supporters, the director said that the vice president was not unmindful of his roots and will never bite the finger that fed him.
According to him, it was Tinubu who put Osinbajo’s name forward as the Vice President when then presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari asked him to nominate people for his running mate slot.
He said that Osinbajo would neither play with that trust nor break it.
Ayodele said that during his time as a commissioner in Lagos, Osinbajo was exceptionally known for integrity and loyalty, in and out of office.
“Osinbajo’s loyalty is so legendary that he had to seek the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye’s permission and blessing before accepting the Vice Presidential candidate slot of the All Progressives Congress.
“Nigerians can count on that loyalty from someone who took an oath of office to defend their rights. He has been loyal in his discharge of his duties in Abuja.
“Those behind the plot to stain Osinbajo’s stellar life and record are PDP stalwarts in the southwest with friends in the All Progressives Congress who can’t stand Tinubu,” he said.
According to him, intelligence report reveals that some high-ranking people in the APC are collaborating with ‘looting-minded people in the opposition to cause a rift between Osinbajo and Tinubu.
He alleged that the critics’ next plan was to cause another rift between Osinbajo and Buhari.
“They believe that once the cordial relationship between Osinbajo and Tinubu is destroyed, the Tinubu house will collapse. The plan is to demonise Osinbajo and project him as overly ambitious.
“The PDP is behind the plot to split Osinbajo and Tinubu because of the desire to take the Southwest region in 2019 or 2023. These two people are the only problems they have in the region. (NAN)