Saturday 25th March, 2017
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Presidency Vs Presidency: Is Osinbajo crossing the line?

Presidency Vs Presidency: Is Osinbajo crossing the line?

On Monday, an edgy presidency knocked the curious governance comparisons of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo by several stakeholders who scored him above ailing President Muhammadu Buhari, as “mischievous”. LOUIS ACHI examines this quirky, unfolding political drama
 
In a third world country defined by high-octane political intrigues, eco­nomic and socio-cultural contradictions, matters that carry the weight of the cur­rent ‘dilemma’ woven around President Muhammadu Bu­hari’s extended medical va­cation in the UK are indeed taken very seriously.
It will be recalled that on January 19, 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari wrote the National Assembly, no­tifying the legislature of his 10-day leave and temporary transfer of power to Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo. Senate President Bukola Saraki read Buhari’s letter and also forwarded to the House of Representatives. The leave was between Janu­ary 23 and February 6, mak­ing it 10 working days, the President told the lawmak­ers through the letter read by Saraki at plenary. It repre­sented the third time Buhari transferred power to Vice President Osinbajo to act as president, since the two lead­ers were inaugurated in May 2015.
The first time was in Feb­ruary 2016 when Buhari em­barked on a five-day vacation and the second time was in June 2016 when he went on a trip to the United Kingdom for medical for treatment of what the Presidency called ear infection. A formal no­tice to bicameral legislature to apprise the lawmakers of his intention to go on leave and handover power tem­porarily to the vice-president complied with Section 145 (1) of the Nigerian Constitu­tion. In taking this measure, Buhari essentially plugged a potential power vacuum and headed off the kind of consti­tutional crisis once witnessed when late President Umaru Yar’Adua travelled for treat­ment in 2009.
On February 5, 2017, Bu­hari again wrote to the Na­tional Assembly informing it of his desire to extend his leave. The extension, he said, was “in order to complete and receive the results of a series of tests recommended by his doctors. The Presi­dent had planned to return to Abuja this evening, but was advised to complete the test cycle before returning,” a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, had clarified.
According to Adesina, “The notice has since been dispatched to the Sen­ate President, and Speaker, House of Representatives. Mr. President expresses his sincere gratitude to Nigeri­ans for their concern, prayers and kind wishes.” Signifi­cantly, the statement did not say when Buhari would return. Against this back­ground, the temporary, con­stitutional transfer of power to Vice-president Yemi Osin­bajo (now acting president) subsists.
 
Comparisons: The backlash…
In exercising the duties of acting president, Osinbajo, a soft-spoken professor of law, brought a sharply contrasting style and panache to this brief thereby, unwittingly provok­ing governance comparisons with his ailing principal from a diverse stakeholders’ base. That Osinbajo is Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s close protégé has hardly helped the alleged nervousness being felt by Northern hawks and mind­ers of Buhari.
Hitting the ground run­ning as acting president, Osinbajo has amongst other things, supervised the imple­mentation of a new foreign exchange policy that has managed to strengthen a rap­idly sliding naira. The gov­ernment has also announced a reduction in attacks on oil and gas infrastructure in re­cent weeks, cuts that trail Osinbajo’s tour of the Niger Delta and talks with com­munity leaders. Perhaps not surprisingly, many Nigeri­ans perceive those decisions as swift and firm, and have compared them to Buhari’s alleged unhurried, imperious response to prickly national problems.
Matters apparently got to a head on Monday when the presidency itself formally re­acted to the perceived grow­ing popularity of Osinbajo. Presidential political adviser

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