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STOP PRESS! Before We Crucify VP Osinbajo

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Hysteria is in the DNA of many Nigerians, especially those who are, for parochial or partisan reasons, decidedly and desperately against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Since the president announced the dissolution of the Economic Management Team headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and replaced it with an Economic Advisory Council, there has been mass hysteria in the traditional and new media.

This is apparent in the deluge of dilettante opinion articles, editorials, blog posts, blurbs, and tweets all alluding to the fact that the VP has been politically emasculated by a phantom ‘cabal’ in the presidency because of his growing popularity and influence and the need to whittle them down before 2023.

Some even said he has been marked for impeachment on trumped-up charges that could only have been products of a puerile imagination.

What the President simply did was to change the economic direction of his Next Level agenda; not ‘reduce’, as some also implied, the statutory functions of his beloved VP.

As the chairman of the constitutionally created the National Economic Council, the VP will continue to play a pivotal role in all economic matters in singular support and assistance of his Principal, Mr. President.

For emphasis, the NEC meeting, held monthly, deliberates on the coordination of the economic planning efforts and economic programmes of the various levels of government.

The council comprises the 36 state governors, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Minister of Finance, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and other government officials and agencies whose duties hinge on the economy.

Last Thursday, the VP still chaired the NEC at the Presidential Villa.

Osinbajo told attendees at the NEC meeting that both councils (NEC and EAC) are for the benefit of the president; and, “If NEC wants to be briefed regularly by the Economic Advisory Council, EAC, we will request the president to do that.” So, nothing has changed, except for the new song by dissidents.

What further sent the rumour mill into overdrive was an alleged directive that the Vice-President should, henceforth, seek presidential approvals for agencies under his supervision.

VP Osinbajo is the chairman of the governing boards of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the National Boundary Commission (NBC) and the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA).

He is also the chairman of the board of directors of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), a limited liability company owned by the three tiers of government; and the National Economic Council (NEC), a constitutional body made up of state governors and key federal government officials, as well as the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).

Under the laws setting up the agencies, the president is empowered to give final approvals but those who chose to ignore this constitutional provision went to town, gloating and ululating, that the VP has eventually been cut to size.

A careful introspection is critical here. Apart from the fact that he is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the Vice President, as the whole world knows, is a Professor of Law. So, if anybody should know what the constitution stipulates as the roles and powers of a VP, it is Osinbajo.

So, why would he want to overreach himself knowing what the constitution states? At what point does doing the right thing require a directive? Some things just don’t add up in the name of playing politics.

Late 2018, the House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness invited the VP to explain his role in the N5.8 billion North East Intervention Fund which the lawmakers said was mismanaged by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

The NEMA is one of the agencies under the VP. The committee said the authorisation for the release of the fund for emergency food intervention in the North East contravened Section 80(4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. And that the funds were credited directly to the individual banks of the companies and NEMA’s bank account, in violation of the approval limit allowed by law.

Nowhere in the report was the VP alleged to have benefitted from the fund. Good enough, the Presidency issued a public statement to say that the money Osinbajo, in his capacity as the Acting President, approved for release in the dire emergency was sourced from the Rice Levy which had already been appropriated in that year’s budget. And that explanation settled the matter.

However, in the desperation of the strident opposition, the allegation, which had since been dispelled by the House Committee, is now being unearthed as if it were new, in a mere political contrivance intended to distract the President Buhari-led administration.

Every discerning mind should be above this outright fake news and sheer inanity. Just as they should about rumours that some unspecified amount of money was found in some private accounts related to the VP’s family or that some Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, funds were traced to his office. The purveyors of this particular rumour even said that the National Leader of the All Progressives’ Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and a former National Chairman of the party, Chief BisiAkande, had been duly informed. Another such report maintained that Asiwaju himself is behind the attempt to smear the VP.

These are mere fabrications intended to drive a wedge between the VP and those he holds in very high esteem. Thankfully, the president and the party leaders are above such frivolous distractions.

Indeed, at no time since Nigeria’s democratic experience began that the President and his VP have enjoyed the kind of cordial relationship and mutual respect that exists between President Buhari and VP Osinbajo.

The president believes so much in the competence, character, and capacity of his VP that he allows him to handle some of the populist programmes of the administration. And, this has not been without politically-motivated hiccups.

The VP is the ‘face’ of TraderMoni, the empowerment scheme of the Federal Government created specifically for petty traders and artisans across Nigeria. The launch of the scheme saw the VP crisscrossing the country, enlightening the people about it and generally pressing the flesh to the delight of Nigerians. Yet, those who do not know the workings of the scheme have gone to town, falsely accusing the VP of mismanaging the Tradermoni Funds.

Instructively, the Bank of Industry is in charge of the Tradermoni; the funds never get into the hands of the VP or his aides; the money is sent to the people via their phones. The VP has just been monitoring to make sure people received what they were promised and the program was working. So any imputation of embezzlement is nothing but a frantic attempt to soil a hard-earned reputation of loyalty, integrity, and capability which the VP has built in the last four years, and which has helped to steady the incumbent administration in no small measure.

Conclusively, the news and noise of a rift or whittling down of the VP’s powers is akin to a storm in a teacup; both the president and the Vice President are still working in tandem to ensure that Nigerians are genuinely taken to the Next Level in their own time.

Abdullai Rimi, is an Abuja-based media practitioner and businessman

NEWS

Oyewale Femi Emerges NAOSRE President, Vows To Set The Pace For Security Reportage

Peter Okunoren

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The National Association of Online Security Reporters, NAOSRE, on Thursday in Lagos, elected Mr. Oyewale Femi as its new President.

Femi, an experienced journalist who is the publisher–Editor-in-Chief of Sahara Weekly and Sahara TV, is to preside over the association’s affairs in the next two years.

In his acceptance speech, the new President thanked the electoral body, NAOSREC, for conducting a hitch-free election. He also thanked the former executives led by Mrs Favour Benson, Board of Trustees and members for the unprecedented confidence reposed in him through their votes, promising “Not to disappoint.”

In reference to the poignant #EndSARS protests that upturned and unbalanced the country’s security bearings, Oyewale called for redoubled media efforts in the promotion of peace and harmony in Nigeria.

“Understandably, NAOSRE members must prepare to undertake the stressful yet inexorable push to enthrone balanced security reportage for a better and secured Nigeria.”

Continuing, he admonished members “To always stand on the path of truth and avoid illogical assertions capable of twisting the wheels of secured nation.

“I, therefore, call on members for more dedication. Let us strive to make NAOSRE the association to beat as well as set the pace for security reportage in Nigeria,” he requested.

Earlier in her remarks, the association’s former President, Favour Benson, thanked members for their cooperation during her tenure.

She however sued for unity and commitment to attain NAOSRE’s objectives.

Ugbechie Francis, an Information Technology expert who observed the election described it as free, fair, and credible.

“From what I see today, NAOSRE’s credibility is not in doubt. Members are full of enthusiasm to take frontline roles in security reportage not only in Nigeria but across the Continent,” he stated.

Those who emerged as elected executive members are Mrs. Love Ikuku Oyedokun, Vice President, Dayo Bamgbala, Secretary, Mrs. Azuh Lilian, Financial Secretary, Gbenga Shaba, Registrar.

Others are Adetogun Olakunle, Treasurer, Edwin Usoboh, Provost, and Abiona Adenike, Welfare.

The newly elected executives include Abayomi Obatinuadeyo, Online Director, and Idumonza Isidahomhen, Public Relations Officer.

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NEWS

CBA Foundation Lends Voice Against Police Brutality, Backs Effective Policing, Good Governance

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Chinwe Bode-Akinwande (CBA) Foundation, a non-governmental organization in Lagos, has joined well-meaning Nigerians across the world to lend its voice against the unfriendly approach of the Nigeria Police Force to civil policing and respect of human rights.

The foundation expressed its support to the widespread cry on the need for the Nigeria Police Force to be uplifted and modernized to promote its efficiency in the discharge of its primary duties of protecting the lives and properties of all residents in the country, irrespective of nationality.

A statement by the foundation’s chairman, Board of Trustees, Dr. Adesina Adegunle, on Friday, said that as the protest for #EndSARs, #EndPoliceBrutality is being looked into by the government (legislative and executive arms), as well as other stakeholders in the place of influence and authority, a common ground and lasting solution is expedient so the trust of the police by everyone is achieved.

“We stand for #EndPoliceBrutality #EndDehumanisation on all grounds. Without a doubt, the victims of police brutality at the extreme case, hence death, have left many women widows; it has left many widows losing their children as well, with many having no one to turn to. Such dehumanization has made the meaning and essence of life lost by the victims.

“Now is the time to speak up, listen, represent right, and see through the solution we seek. We need to hear the plans, see actions, and feel the effectiveness of the timelines in place.

“We need a listening government, people-centered leaders that will be bold to ask the public to track and hold those in authority accountable.

“Good leadership and representative governance are all we seek because Nigeria is ours and indeed the role security plays to the growth and development of the country cannot be overemphasized. God bless Nigeria,” he noted.

The CBA Foundation is primarily dedicated to promoting the protection of Nigerian widows and their vulnerable children, restoring immediate and lasting hope, confidence, and courage in their lives.

Established in 2015, the foundation, under its 5-point agenda, has reached out to thousands of underprivileged widows and children through skills acquisition training, health intervention, business start-ups, and provision of clothing, nutrition, and tuition fees for the children.

In breakdown, 5,600 widows have been empowered through its women empowerment and capacity building initiative; over 3,500 underprivileged widows have received health intervention; over 3,500 have also received food items.

The foundation has also reinstated 45 children in school, empowered 120 widows financially to start a business of their own, and also provided palliatives to 250 widows during the COVID-19 pandemic lock-down.

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BIG STORY

Senate Minority Caucus Knocks Buhari Over Lauretta Onochie’s INEC Nomination, Calls For Withdrawal Of Nomination

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The Senate Minority Caucus said on Tuesday that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), flouted the nation’s constitution with the appointment of his media aide, Lauretta Onochie, as a national commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The opposition senators in a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja and signed by their leader, however, asked Buhari to withdraw Onochie’s nomination.

They noted that Buhari, by nominating Onochie, “has willfully gone against the constitution that he swore to uphold.”

Part of the statement read, “Item F, paragraph 14 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) forbids a card-carrying member of a political party to be a member of INEC.

“The Minority Caucus of the Senate is against this nomination and call on Mr President to withdraw it.”

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