“If you’re looking for where to read newspapers in Aso Rock, visit the Vice President’s office. Noted a social media user”, that’s how an ‘empirical’ essay about the assumed redundancy of the Vice President’s office started.
If I’m not mistaken, the reader is expected to believe that an internet user, who has probably never visited the State House is very much certain about what exactly goes on in the office of the VP. It’s far beyond hyperbole, it’s a niggling and intense yearning to depict Osinbajo and his entire office as idle and ineffectual.
The discreetly authored, pretty-doctored opinion piece ‘Goodnight from Aso Rock, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’ seems more like a conspicuous attack against the South West as a whole, where the author constantly refers to the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Professor Osinbajo, Babatunde Fashola and even Yele Sowore as ‘pigs’ in a battle with the northern cabal for who gets the top job in 2023.
The premise of this slag off really isn’t just about Yemi OSinbajo, it’s more of a personal vendetta against ‘Jagaban’ who at some point was the focus of this fable.
Let’s get the facts right, the President disbanded the Economic Management Team chaired by his deputy to start off a star-studded team of economic advisors who now report to him directly on strategies that champion inclusive and balanced growth; to help the nation fight poverty and safeguard national economic interest.
Neither Osinbajo nor the ministers of Finance, Budget and National planning, Trade and Industry were included in this new team, that’s because the National Economic Council still exists as a statutory body made up of state governors and some ministers and is still chaired by the VP himself. As stated by the VP, both bodies will communicate and share ideas to maintain joint economic focus when needed.
The president, in all his constitutional capacity does no wrong in opting for another course of action as long as it is beneficial to the nation and its people. It is also far from the truth that Osinbajo’s economic team led the country into a comatose. The global economy was bedevilled by various factors in 2019, not forgetting that it was an election year which made things kick-off rather slowly, the country sure didn’t reach its projected targets.
However, GDP growth increased by 2.01. 2.12 and 2.28 per cent in Q1, Q3 and Q4 2019 respectively. The inflation rate also declined to 11. 37 and 11.31 per cent in January and February respectively from the December 2018 peak of 11.44 per cent. Nigeria was also one of the top 20 improvers in World’s Bank Doing Business Report published in 2019.
The National Social Investment Programme which was headed by the Vice President at that time was recognised for its commendable work in fostering financial inclusion, particularly for those down the poverty ladder. The success of the scheme is what led to its remodelling as a full ministry today. I’m sure that’s meant to be good news. Nigeria is tagged the poverty capital of the world today not because of policies recommended by a 3 year old committee but as a result of corruption and mismanagement of funds that have existed for decades.
No doubts there may to be a rift between both offices that occupy the state house, no denial that there may be a cabal hell-bent on sniffling the powers of the VP, but both men haven’t flinched since this full fledged media war against them started, instead they have reiterated their commitment to deliver on the promises of their re-election. He remains the second most powerful man in the country and only takes orders from his boss, there’s no such thing as cabal scrutinising the affairs or suctions of his office.
Theories about the whittling powers of Osinbajo’s office aren’t new and most of the postulations have hardly held water, very much more like beer parlour gist. Everyone with a pen suddenly seem to know so much about the cabal and their intent; it’s what happens when half baked speculations are exaggerated for tabloids to build on and manufacture gross distortion of facts.
The impact of such viral deception and extensive misinformation spread by these political pundits is vast and baneful, and it does our democracy zero justice. I will end with the words of the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, “In Nigeria, there are too many inferences from things that are just normal and natural; things that are designed to accelerate governance and ensure there is probity and accountability.”
Richard Ogundiya is a journalist and