By Ayo Fadimu
As the 2019 presidential election draws nearer, there is a subtle war over who controls the affairs of the presidency between the acting president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and the kitchen cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari, often referred to as Aso-Rock cabals led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari but remotely backed the President’s cousin, Maman Daura.
Nigerian NewsDirect learnt that Kyari, a very powerful official in the Aso-Rock and blood relation of Buhari was the author of the letter which Buhari transmitted to the Senate while leaving for medical check up in the United Kingdom where Osinbajo was asked to Coordinate activities of the government in Buhari’s absence instead of becoming Acting President during the period as enshrined in the constitution.
Osinbajo had since taken over control of the presidency but there is growing fear that Buhari, who has been on sick bed for most part of the year may not be healthy enough to contest for presidency in 2019 and Osinbajo may take over. The Cabals have started vigorous campaign against Osinbajo portraying him as ethnic jingoist who put only his ethnic people from Yoruba land around him .
When Buhari went for medical check up earlier in the year, there was rumour that he was poisoned by some Christians close to him in Aso-Rock
“The rumour then was targeted at the Vice-President a source told Nigerian NewsDirect.
At present, Osinbajo and Kyari are not on speaking terms. Nigerian NewsDirect learnt Kyari accused Osinbajo of travelling to Lagos, his home base three times a week with over 40 aides and each of their trips at tax payers’ expense and using the Presidential Air Fleet and claiming bogus estacode.
However, Osinbajo through his Special Adviser on media, Laolu Akande has denied the charge, claiming that it was far from the truth.
“Osinbajo always use his money whenever he is not on official trip to Lagos or Redemtion camp, the headquarters of his Church in Ogun State” Akande said.
However, Nigerian NewsDirect learnt that the issue was more than just travelling with a retinue of staff to Lagos or anywhere but power tussle on who controls the appointments and affairs of the presidency as well as who gets the party’s ticket in 2019.
“Has the Chief of Staff ever questioned the president over how he travels to anywhere in the country and now that the president has been sick in the United Kingdom, has he complained over the bill the country has been paying on the president’s sickness?”
“It’s simply power tussle?” he added.
Last week, an unknown man, who claimed to be Dr. Ismaila Farouk from Zamfara State accused Osinbajo of being a nepolistic, greedy and unreliable person who is only scheming his way into power come 2019.
Farouk described Osinbajo as one who had smuggled his Yoruba and Redeemed Christian Church of God [RCCG] brothers into the corridors of power.
He claimed the Acting/Vice President has ambushed key and juicy positions courtesy of the magnanimity of President Buhari’s implicit confidence in him.
However, the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Legal Matters, Dr Bilkisu Saidu dismissed the comments credited to Farouk about appointments made by Osinbajo, into some Federal agencies and the ones done in the office of the Vice President.
Dr Saidu, regarded as one of the foremost aides to the Acting President, was a law teacher from the Usmanu Dan Fodiyo University Sokoto before she was named an SSA in the Office of the Vice President last year.
She described the nepotism charges as simply laughable, untrue, unfair and should not be taken seriously.
According to her contrary to Mr Farouk’s conclusions, most senior positions in the Vice President’s office are held by Muslims including by individuals who are from the north.
Said she, “If you are talking about religion, the most senior official or position in the Office of the Vice President apart from the Vice President himself, is the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President and the name of the person occupying that office is Abdulrahman Ipaye and he is a Muslim.”
“The positions following the Chief of Staff’s in the order of hierarchy are the Special Advisers in the office of the Vice President. Here there are three Special Advisers and two out of the three Special Advisers are Muslims, Senator Babafemi Ojudu and Barrister Mariam Uwais from Kano State,” she added.
Dr Saidu said that a cursory look at the other senior positions in the Vice President’s office indicate that religious consideration was never a factor in the appointment of the officers, noting that “If you look at the remaining senior positions in that office, most of them are in the hands of Muslims from the north.”
She said: “For instance the person in charge of Protocol (i.e. the Director of Protocol) is Ambassador Abdullahi Gwary from Yobe State; those in charge of welfare and health in the office of the Vice President are mostly Muslims and from the north.
“Worthy of note are the stewards, those who serve the Vice President’s meals, they are mostly Muslims, so what do the critics mean when they talk about religion.”
Dr Saidu concluded that when non-progressive