Southern, Middle Belt leaders, Bakare demand briefing on Osinbajo
• CAN defends visit to vice president
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) yesterday demanded that the Federal Government should brief Nigerians on the reasons for stripping Vice President Yemi Osinbajo of some of his statutory responsibilities.
The forum said it was following with keen interest developments in the presidency in the past few days.
In a statement yesterday, leaders of the forum, Chief Edwin Clark (South South); Chief Ayo Adebanjo (South West); Chief John Nwodo (South East) and Dr. Pogu Bitrus (Middle Belt) maintained that the alleged stripping of the office of the vice president of most functions and responsibilities did not correspond with the declaration of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) governors that “all is well at the seat of power.”
The leaders said: “The office of the vice president today is definitely not what it was two weeks ago. Something is definitely wrong even when we cannot place our fingers on it yet. And this is because of the opaque handling of affairs of a supposed constitutional democracy and open society in a manner reminiscent of a kingdom where things are done according to the whims and caprices of the monarch.”
The forum insisted that Nigeria is running a democracy where the people need to know the ways their lives are being run by those they have hired to do the job.
“Moreover, the multi-ethnic nature of Nigeria and the geo-political balancing of its presidency will make the kind of actions that have been taken against the office of the vice president to attract the usual suspicion of the experiences of the former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (rtd), who was unceremoniously relieved of his job by former military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babaginda, and erstwhile Chief of General Staff, Gen. Oladipo Diya, who was arraigned for a phantom coup under the regime of the late military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, if there are no explanations to the public.”
The forum added that in this dispensation, in particular, references would be made to the treatment of the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen; former Head of Service, Mrs. Winifred Oyo Ita; and now Osinbajo on one hand, and Mr. Abdulrsheed Maina of the Pension Reform Task Force, Prof Usman Yusuf of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State on the other hand.
“In order to preserve the unity of the country therefore, we demand explanation on what is happening to Osinbajo from the presidency, and if no such is forthcoming, his functions should be restored.”
The group also expressed concern over the unusual silence of President Muhammadu Buhari on the development.
“We have equally noticed the unusual quietness of the presidency on the damaging allegations against the vice president. In any normal clime, it should not have taken more than a day for the presidency to dispel the allegations to maintain the moral standing of Osinbajo and the integrity of the administration. We, therefore, demand a statement from the government on the weighty allegations or an investigation to be carried out. We hold our breath until the public is properly briefed.”
Also, the Serving Overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly, Tunde Bakare, urged President Buhari to clear the air on the allegations surrounding the office of Osinbajo .
Addressing the media yesterday, Bakare said it was the moral responsibility of the government to speak on the issue or stop it. He added that the vice president would have the last laugh except he (Osinbajo) had violated his oath.
“My concern presently is that come rain, come shine, Osinbajo must not be disgraced and humiliated out of office except he has truly and flagrantly violated his oath of office, which I find difficult to believe.”
The cleric also denied making any statement to denigrate the office of the vice president or taunt the person of Osinbajo “at this period of his travails.”
“Contrary to the misconceptions and misinformation, the trending video about the 16th presidency was an excerpt from a message titled ‘Be Grateful for Your Blessings (part 3),’ which I preached in this auditorium on Sunday, February 18, 2018. That excerpt was released at this time, a year and seven months after the statements were made, and erroneously associated with recent developments relating to the office of the vice president, suggesting that it was either done by the uninformed, or was a deliberately designed attempt to misinform the public by linking unrelated issues, in order to create divisions where there are none, thereby heating up the polity unnecessarily.”
Bakare also condemned some recent financial policies: “What I do care about is that the Federal Government has slammed a punitive three per cent charge on lodgments into a corporate account of N300,000 and above and also a five per cent charge for withdrawal from corporate accounts of like sums. They further slammed a two per cent charge on all lodgments of N500, 000 and above into a personal account, while adding a charge of three per cent on withdrawals from the same, meaning that if I pay N500, 000 into my personal account, I will automatically be charged N10, 000. The banks will also still charge transaction fees for withdrawals and lodgments, Value Added Tax (VAT) at 7.5 per cent, account maintenance fee, stamp duty and any other fee/charges the banks decide to throw at me. The onslaught is relentless! Nigerians are now to pay to put their money in a bank. They pay to keep it there and they pay to remove it.”
Meanwhile, the leadership the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) has defended the group’s visit to Osinbajo on Friday over the N90 billion fraud allegation levelled against him, insisting that there is no law that is against their action.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, Special Assistant (Media and Communication) to the CAN president, Adebayo Oladeji, explained that the association’s leadership visited Osinbajo to hear his side of the story instead of rushing to the press either to condemn him or support him.