Adetutu Folasade-Koyi and Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
What was meant to be a routine redeployment from the Presidential Villa to two newly-created ministries ended up being sack for 35 aides of Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Wednesday.
Daily Sun gathered that with President Muhammadu Buhari’s creation of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster management, on August 21, there was an understanding that officers who were specifically employed for the Social Investment Programme (Tradermoni, N-Power, Home-Grown School Feeding, Government Economic Empowerment, Conditional Cash Transfer), which was hitherto domiciled in Osinbajo’s office, would be redeployed to work in the new ministry, as well as that of the Ministry of Special Duties and other federal ministries, departments and agencies.
But, when they reported at the ministries, they were told there was no vacancy and their services not even needed.
Presidency source told Daily Sun that the redeployed staff were specifically told that they were not needed as there was no space for them to operate in some of the ministries.
The vice president, it was learnt, now awaits the president’s return, as, according to a source, “the affected staff were meant to be redeployed and not sacked. That was the situation before the president travelled out. Their appointment letters stated that they are the president’s employees but deployed to serve in the vice president’s office.”
Asked who signed the disengagement letters, he said it was from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“Any appointment letter of any political appointee is signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. If it’s a career civil servant, then it is signed by the Head of the Civil Service of the federation.”
The Presidency, yesterday, unveiled identities of the affected aides. On the list are Babajide, grandson of Obafemi Awolowo and Jibola Ajayi, daughter of Abiola Ajimobi. Prof. Osinbajo is married to one of the grand daughters of the late sage and premier of old Western Region while Senator Ajimobi is former governor of Oyo State
Also affected are Jibola Ajayi (special adviser, legal), Lanre Osinbona (senior special assistant, ICT), Imeh Okon (senior special assistant, Infrastructure), Jide Awolowo (Special adviser, oil and gas), Lilian Idiaghe (Special adviser, research, legal and compliance), Arukino Umukoro (Special adviser, Niger Delta), Bala Liman Mohammed (Senior special assistant, Economy), Edobor Iyamu (Senior special assistant, Niger Delta), Dolapo Bright (Senior special assistant, agro allied value chain), Toyosi Onaolapo (Special adviser, community engagement), Gambo Manzo (Special adviser, political), Bisi Ogungbemi (Special adviser, political matters), Edirin Akemu (Senior special assistant, industry, trade & investment), Akin Soetan (Senior technical assistant, economic matters), Aondaver Kuttuh (Technical assistant, rule of law), Ife Adebayo (Special adviser, innovation), Yussuf Ali (Special adviser, power regulations) and Tola Asekun (Senior special assistant, National Boundary Commission).
Others are Morakinyo Beckley (Special adviser, off grid power), Yosola Akinbi (Senior special assistant, NEC), Tochi Nwachukwu, (Special adviser, power privatisation), Bode Gbore (Senior special assistant, political), Abdulrahman Baffa Yola (Special adviser, political), Kolade Sofia (Special adviser, infrastructure), Ebi Awosika (Senior technical assistant, community engagement), Muyiwa Abiodun (Senior special assistant, power).
Also relieved of their jobs are Forri Samson-Banu (Special adviser, entrepreneurship), Bege Bala (Special adviser, BPE), Feyishayo Aina (Senior special assistant, community engagement), Halima Bawa (Special adviser, community engagement), Nkechi Chukwueke (Special adviser, community engagement) and Ilsa Essien (Special adviser, media.)
But Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, has dismissed the list as fake.
“A list circulating in the media on d so-called sacked presidential aides is not genuine and ought to be ignored,” he said on his verified twitter handle @akandeoj.
A government source who spoke under the condition of anonymity said the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, having said it was not aware of the development, was a confirmation that no one has been sacked.
The source said the aides who got their letters of appointment were posted out to relevant ministries to continue with their work wh ere their expertise was needed.
When news broke on Wednesday, that the presidency had sacked 35 aides of the vice president, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Babajide Omoworare dismissed reports that it meant Osinbajo had been relegated in the scheme of things at the Villa.
“He has no reason to do so. I don’t think there is any way or manner that the Office of the Vice President has been relegated. The president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria can work from anywhere he is in the world,” Omoworare said.
Regardless, last month, 70 aides of the vice president were moved out of the Presidential Villa.
One of the affected aides confirmed the relocation and added that “our office will now be in town. The VP’s aides are moving out; our office is no longer in the Villa.”
Akande apologises to photojournalist
Meanwhile, Akande has apologised to Vanguard Newspapers’ photojournalist attached to the Aso Rock Villa, Abayomi Adeshida, over the beating he received from security personnel attacked to his principal, Yemi Osinbajo.
In the same vain, Chairman/CEO Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has also apologized to photographer via telephone.
The victim confirmed he has received a call from both Akande and Dabiri-Erewa apologising for the unfortunate incident.
Adeshida was beaten and his camera damaged at day two of of the second Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit (NDIS) 2019, convened by Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) in collaboration with Nigeria Diaspora and Alumni Network (NIDAN), at the State
“The needless scuffle btw a villa accredited photographer, Mr. Adeshida & one of our security aides earlier today has since been resolved. Incident is regretted & I have apologized to him for any embarrassment caused.”
“The needless scuffle btw a villa accredited photographer, Mr. Adeshida & one of our security aides earlier today has since been resolved. Incident is regretted & I have apologized to him for any embarrassment caused,” Akande tweeted.
Director-General, Nigeria Governors Forum, Asishana Okauru, has said though the journalism profession was as risky as that of the police, practitioners must continue to do the job and hold governments to account.
He spoke yesterday while declaring open a two-day training for Journalists on Budget Tracking and Data-Driven Journalism organised by NGF in collaboration with Premium Times.
Okauru described the NGF Secretariat as a policy hub.
“We need to meet to professionalize your profession, we need credibility. We need to understand the risk journalists take everyday, it’s as risky as the police officer. But you need to be sure before you send anything out there.”
According to him, Journalists exact a lot of impact on the public who read stories and are influenced by them, hence the need for the training to arm them with facts that will aid their reporting credible stories.
“This training is to arm you with the right tools to report the budget that impacts the people.”
Editor in Chief of Primium Times, Mojeed Musikilu, in his remarks commended the governors and the NGF Secretariat for willing to arm journalists with tools to ferment trouble, knowing that it can work against their interest in future.