Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
Southern and Middle Belt Leaders have demanded explanation from the presidency on the seeming clampdown on the person and office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in recent times.
Prominent leaders, including Chief E K Clark (South South), Chief Ayo Adebanjo (South West), Chief John Nwodo (South East) and Dr Pogu Bitrus (Middle Belt), in a joint statement Sunday titled: ‘Rumble in Presidency: Need To Know’, demanded explanations on what they called the continued humiliation of VP Osinbajo by some forces in the presidency.
Speaking under the auspices of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum(SMBLF), the group which said it had followed with keen interest, developments in the presidency as regards the office of the Vice President in the past few days, expressed worries over what was termed “virtual stripping of the office of the VP of most functions and responsibilities”.
According to the concerned leaders, that Osinbajo has been stripped of his functions, including some that are constitutional, by fiat, does not tally with the declaration of APC governors that all is well at the seat of power.
According to SMBLF, “The office of the Vice-President today is definitely not what it was two weeks ago. Something is definitely wrong even when we cannot place our fingers on it yet.
“And this because of the opaque handling of affairs of a supposed constitutional democracy and open society in a manner reminiscent of a kingdom where things are done according to the whims and caprices of the monarch.”
Contending that in a democracy people need to know the ways their lives are being run by those they have hired to do the job, the body drew attention to the multi-ethnic nature of Nigeria and that the geo-political balancing of its presidency will make the kind of actions that have been taken against the office of the Vice-President attract the usual suspicion of the experiences of Ebitu Ukiwe and Oladipo Diya if there are no explanations to the public.
“In this dispensation in particular, references would be made to the treatment of Justice Walter Onoghen, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita and now Prof Osinbajo on one hand ,and Mr Abdulrsheed Maina of Pension Reform Task Force Prof Usman Yusuf of NHIS and Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano on the other hand.
“In order to preserve the unity of the country therefore, we demand explanation on what is happening to Osinbajo from the Presidency and if no such is forthcoming , his functions should be restored.
“We have equally noticed the unusual quiet from the Presidency on damaging allegations against the Vice-President.
In any normal clime, it should not have taken more than a day for the presidency to dispel the allegations to maintain the moral standing of the VP and the integrity of the administration.
“We therefore demand a statement from the government on the weighty allegations or an investigation to be caused. We hold our breath until the public is properly briefed”, SMBLF stated.