Rather than settle, the dust generated by the alleged plot to remove Vice President Yemi Osinbajo by some powerful forces in the presidency, otherwise known as ‘members of the cabal’, continues to rise with reports on Tuesday that two possible replacements had already been pencilled down if the embattled VP throws in the towel.
A credible source in the presidency told Daily Independent that Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, who is the current chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), and Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing, are two top contenders for the number two position.
According to him, it has been agreed that the South-West will still retain the position but unlike in 2015 when Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s camp produced Osinbajo, the would-be vice president this time around would be “someone approved by the Buhari camp”.
He said Fayemi was one of the favourites in the Buhari camp having served as the Chairman of the Presidential Convention Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which organised the primary that produced Buhari as the APC flag bearer in 2015.
After President Buhari assumed office in 2015, he appointed Fayemi as Minister of Mines and Steel Development, a position he held before resigning to contest the 2018 governorship election in Ekiti, which he won.
Speaking further, our source said: “The president is also very comfortable with Fashola and would have picked him as his running mate in 2015 but for the outcry against a Muslim-Muslim ticket which also jeopardised Tinubu’s chances.
“If you remember, that was why the president appointed Fashola as the Minister of Power, Works and Housing in 2015, making him the most important minister in his cabinet or super-minister as many called it.
“As it stands, these two are the likely choices as replacement for Osinbajo, but it remains to be seen how this will materialise as the vice president will also not want to go down without a fight.”
Also on Tuesday, Prof. Itse Sagay, SAN, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), described Vice President Osinbajo as “an incorruptible man of God who is as clean as a whistle”.
Speaking in with our correspondent on the corruption allegations levelled against Osinbajo, Sagay said his committee did not receive any report indicting Osinbajo in any way.
He accused the opposition of being the brain behind the malicious rumour, adding that having failed at the courts, they were desperately trying to cause disaffection in the presidency.
He said: “Our committee received no report indicting the vice president in any way. Absolutely nothing! The vice president is an incorruptible man of God, a man of high moral standing who is as clean as a whistle. He will not appropriate any money that doesn’t belong to him to himself.
“The vice president is not having any issue with President Buhari. All these malicious reports and fake news are being sponsored by the opposition and enemies of the government, and it should be disregarded.”
Also on Tuesday, the Coalition of Progressive Northern Movements raised the alarm over some unscrupulous elements who were set to destabilise the country in the guise of fighting the vice president.
The group’s coordinator, Abdulmalik Umar Usman, in a statement issued in Abuja, warned that those fighting the vice president were not protecting the interest of the Northern region.
This is coming as the groups also alerted Nigerians on plans by some powerful Northern elements to cash in on the frenzy by sowing seed of discord in the presidency over the alleged crack in the seat of power.
“It is rather surprising that some elements, both in the strata of the All Progressives Congress and other power thirsty individuals could in their wildest imagination, dive into the pool of 2023 bitter politicking in 2019, by using the vice president as the bait of their plans. It is, however, gratifying that the plan is dead on arrival because it threatens the unity of the country.
“One wonders if these political jobbers do not engage in self-reflection, to understand that every season comes with its unique purpose.
“The time for politics has since come and gone. It is now the season of governance. Those who are yet to heal from the shock of defeat handed to them by the joint ticket of progressiveness should do so in earnest and wake up to the reality of Next Level administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and VP Osinbajo.
“We therefore warn the fourth columnists to desist from their distracting, callous and insensitive seed of discord being planted which could destabilise the presidency and the country at large.
“2023 is still far, cabals in the Villa should allow the administration concentrate on consolidating the gains of the progressive government in the last four years; Nigerians want more from the APC government.”
Meanwhile, the upper chamber of the National Assembly on Tuesday distanced itself from the present travail of the vice president.
Recall that the presidency recently stripped Osinbajo of his power to supervise agencies under him and has also been embattled over sundry issues.
Addressing newsmen, shortly after the plenary, the spokesman of the Senate, Dayo Adeyeye, said he was not aware that any role constitutionally assigned to the vice president had been taken away from him.
Asked about the travail of Osinbajo, Adeyeye said: “The Senate is not involved with that and we are not concerned about what happens in the executive, things that are happening with the executive.
“I am speaking for the Senate. I do not speak for the executive and I do not want to concern myself with the issue of the vice president or the executive, it is not our business. That is the executive arm of government and we do not interfere. Why do we have to do that?
“It is not our concern, why do you want to drag me into something that does not really concern me and that does not concern the Senate. We are not bothered about that and we are not concerned.”
“I am not aware of any role constitutionally assigned to the vice president that has been taken away from him. Nothing like that has happened.
“Constitutional assigned duties remain the same. Get it right: the president has the prerogative to assign duties to all those who work with him in the executive.
“He has the constitutional power, he can call the Minster of Works and say okay go to Finance or go to labour. The Senate will not inquire into that because that is his duties.
“He can say, my vice president, I give you this additional responsibilities. Where is the power of the Senate to investigate that?
“We do not have the power that will warrant the intervention of the Senate. That has never happened, and that has not happened.
“I do not think we have any cause to be discussing that because that itself has not happened. So, we are not bothered about that and we are not concerned. I want to tell you that at this moment we are not investigating it.”
Speaking on the N5.5 billion car for lawmakers, Adeyeye charged the media to stop focusing on it, adding, “I want to implore the media to stop focusing on N5.5 billion car insurances.
“It won’t help you or Nigerians. It doesn’t help the Nigerian polity. Just forget it. Let us concentrate on what the National Assembly and elected representatives are doing, what you have sent them to do.
“The matter has always been a recurring decimal since 1999. In this country, senators, ministers and civil servants were provided houses and then the policy was stopped. As of today, most government officials have official vehicles the same way judicial officials have.
“So, why is the legislature different? It is simply because the legislature has not been part of government. It is because of the legislature you have democracy.
“Most people think the legislature is expensive. If you think democracy is expensive and legislature is not necessary, try dictatorship and let us see.
“Do a cost benefit analysis. Even the N5.5 billion, I don’t know if the amount is correct. I don’t know the vehicles to be provided.”