“What will Osinbajo do now?” I asked a senior colleague. He blurted: “He has his role cut out for him already. He is in charge of Tradermoniand condolence visits”.
Really, what is Yemi Osinbajo’s detail in the government now, considering the recent staggering upshots? Has he been lame-ducked and functionally vasectomised?
The last time Nigeria had a Vice President with the potency to make and execute decisions was under the Obasanjo administration. The extensive economic programmes initiated by the administration were machined by former Atiku Abubakar – before the fall out.
Atiku supervised the privatisation of public enterprises and truly wielded power as the second man in the hierarchy of authority.
In August, after inaugurating his cabinet, President Muhammadu Buhari instructed his ministers to report to him through Abba Kyari, his Chief of Staff. He also asked that all Federal Executive Council matters be channelled to him through Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Expectedly, this untoward warrant effectuated a furore among citizens.
On Monday, the President constituted an economic advisory council to replace the current economic management team headed by Osinbajo.
According to Femi Adesina, spokesperson for the President, “The Economic Advisory Council will advise the President on economic policy matters, including fiscal analysis, economic growth and a range of internal and global economic issues working with the relevant cabinet members and heads of monetary and fiscal agencies.”
Also, President Buhari has instructed Osinbajo to seek approvals for agencies under his supervision henceforth. Under the laws setting up the agencies, the President is empowered to give final approvals but this was not adhered to in the era of “change”. Perhaps it was politically convenient at the time.
Osinbajo is the chairman of the governing boards of the National Emergency Management Agency, the National Boundary Commission, the Border Communities Development Agency and the Niger Delta Power Holding Company Ltd. With the directive, he will now have to seek approvals for contract awards, annual reports, annual accounts, power to borrow, and power to make regulations among other key functions. Is this not a function vasectomy?
In all of these, what exactly will the Vice President be doing now? And what does the constitution say about that office?
Section 141 of the constitution discerns the office of the Vice President as a functioning unit of government. To condense it, the constitutional duties of the Vice President include “participation in all cabinet meetings and, by statute, membership in the National Security Council, the National Defence Council, Federal Executive Council, and the Chairman of National Economic Council”.
Please note, “though the Vice President may take an active role in establishing policy in the executive branch by serving on the committees and councils, the relative power of his office dependent on the duties delegated by the President”.
Really, the power of the Vice President is derived from the President, who selects him as a running mate in an election, his office is a creation of the constitution with responsibilities. It is unsound when the office of the Chief of Staff, which is a divergence from the law – not recognised by the constitution – wields exorbitant power while that of the Vice President is emasculated. Is it logical that the Chief of Staff is much more powerful than the Vice President whose role is “cognised” by the constitution?
As a matter of fact, it seems Osinbajo is being stripped of even peripheral responsibilities and consigned to the desk of irrelevance. If this is the case, then it is a ratification of the wild rumours suggesting that he will be kept abridged ahead of the 2023 “gladiatorial” contest.
It appears condolence visits and food-sampling in markets are now functions where the beautiful intellect, experience and wealth of knowledge of Vice President Osinbajo are being deployed in. If Nigeria was a country immune to insanity, I think Osinbajo would be running it.