Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Abuja
A plot to remove Vice President Yemi Osinbajo gathered momentum at the weekend, with some allegations against him dating back to when he was acting president in May 2017, when President Muhammadu Buhari was in the United Kingdom on medical leave, consequent upon Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Some of the allegations against him were that, as acting president, Osinbajo “authorised payment of N5.9 billion to NEMA (National Emergency Management Agency) without approval from the National Assembly.
“Although he is chairman of the governing board of NEMA, he still needed parliamentary approval before money could be taken from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. He didn’t pass through the normal channel.
“Again, he signed for N25 billion for NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation), as ‘funding contract.’ He had no such powers,” said a security.
There are also allegations that disbursement of funds by the Federal Government-backed Social Investment Programme (SIP) domicilled in Osinbajo’s office were not transparent, with allegations of “traces of money exchanging hands between him and the FIRS boss.”
However, a Presidency source who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter dismissed the allegations as “recycled.”
He said: “The issues have not changed from the position that the House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness report never indicted Osinbajo of corruption,” and insisted that attempts to resuscitate the allegations are “mere political contrivances intended to distract him.”
In November 2018, also on the same issue, a presidential political adviser, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, said the opposition was merely “in search of company for their acts of grand corruption, which brought Nigeria to its knees as of May 2015.
“Even the House Committee chairman has said there was no allegation of corruption against him.” Another Presidency source simply dismissed the allegations as “part of the smear campaign. Absolute falsehood.”
Also, last Friday, in Ekiti State, during the burial of Mrs. Moroluke Fakoyede, mother of the secretary of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ola Olukoyede, at St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Ikere-Ekiti, Osinbajo said there were saboteurs and fifth columnists working against government’s plan to develop the country.
Regardless, possible replacements for Osinbajo are being assessed and top on the list are two candidates from the South West.
The vice president is from the South West (Ogun State) and is also a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. In shopping for his replacement, two Christians are being considered, with a serving governor in the region topping the list, as at last Wednesday.
A former governor from the South West was also considered but was knocked off the list because of the need to ensure “religion balancing.”
Meanwhile, another source in the Federal Capital Territory said the allegations against Osinbajo were all about political permutations ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
He said despite being the highest ranking South West politically-exposed person in the ruling government now, and since “he does not control any political bloc in the region, there is need for realignment of forces hitherto deployed in the region,” in previous elections for the All Progressives Congress (APC), as an ally of the North.
“Osinbajo has no political base in Yorubaland. The recent ministerial, board appointments from the region went through another ally who is now a big player in Abuja. The young Turks from the South West are ready to go into a new alliance with the North,” he said.
To gain foothold, if and when Osinbajo is removed, the new political realignment would see the new leaders paving the way for a northern presidential candidate in the APC and the People’s Democratic Party.
A source who was privy to the plan explained: “The North will present candidates for the presidency in APC and PDP. The South West is automatically ruled out because Osinbajo has been elected twice now, with Buhari. The South East and the South South are now the beautiful brides for Vice President.”
A former governor further explained why the North will present candidates in APC and PDP.
“In arriving as to why the North should be allowed to contest for the Presidency in 2023, let us go back to 1999.
“The South West had its constitutional eight years with former President Olusegun Obasanjo. In the spirit of balance and rotation, the presidency moved to the North.
“Now, in 2007, it was the turn of the North, with late President Umaru Musa’Yar’Adua, who did not complete his four-year tenure before he died in May 2010.
“If he had lived, he would have had the right of first refusal in 2011. His first four-year tenure was completed by his deputy then (Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.), who went on to contest in 2011 and left in 2015.
“The eight years of the North was not completed because the South South took it, having jettisoned an earlier agreement.
“Now, it would only be fair if you allow the North have another shot at the presidency.
“Besides, the 2019 general election has shown the underbelly of the South West.
“Lagos, which had the highest number of voters, going into the general election, could not even muster 1 million votes for Mr. President; yet, Borno that was even bombed on the day of election, saw people trooping out to vote for APC overwhelmingly. Kano lived up to its billing by giving APC more votes than Lagos.
“So, in terms of comparative advantage, if APC is to continue at the centre, it’s best to have a presidential candidate from the North and balance it with a vice president from the South East since South South has ruled before. The rotation principle can be applied after 2027 and not before,” he argued.