The crisis rocking the presidency yesterday worsened as President Muhammadu Buhari sacked 35 aides of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Daily Trust reports.
But the presidency also yesterday insisted that there was no rift between the president and his embattled deputy.
Multiple presidency sources confirmed the sack of the aides of the vice president, heightening the tension in the country’s seat of power amidst insinuations that the unfolding drama was about the 2023 presidential election.
The vice president reportedly had over 80 aides who were deployed in many strategic positions, with sources around the corridors of power saying the recent attention around the vice president was aimed at reducing his influence, just as it happened to ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar shortly after ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo won a second term.
A presidency source said letters relieving the aides of the vice president of their appointments were issued to those affected yesterday.
According to Daily Trust reports, the affected aides were attached to different Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
One of the sources, who sought anonymity said: “The letters were distributed to the affected aides through the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. They were not working within the precinct of the presidential villa.”
Why VP retrieved sack letters
However, two other presidential villa sources told Daily Trust last night that Vice President Osinbajo had retrieved the sack letters from the affected aides “pending the return of the president.”
One of the sources said: “The vice president has retrieved the sack letters from the affected aides. He is unhappy with the development and awaiting the return of the president from the United Kingdom.”
The second source, who also corroborated the retrieval of the letters, said the vice president wanted to know whether the 35 aides were relieved of their appointments on the order of the president.
“I have spoken to one of the affected persons who confirmed that the sack letters have been retrieved by their boss,” he said.
President Buhari, who is on a 15-day private visit to the United Kingdom, is expected back home on November 17. It was also gathered that access tags to the presidential villa of some of the aides of the vice president were retrieved yesterday by security personnel attached to the villa. Another report, however, suggested that the action was taken to prevent the aides from being redundant as some of the jobs being undertaken by them were no longer under the control of the vice president.
Contacted separately, the Senior Special Assistants to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu and Mr Laolu Akande who normally spoke on behalf of the vice president, neither confirmed nor dismissed the reported sack of the 35 aides.
A text message sent to our correspondent by Shehu reads: “The SGF has responsibility for the issuance of letters of appointment, and where the need arises, sack letters as well. Please meet him with your questions.”
For his part, Akande said, “I just heard it just like anybody. But I’m going to find out what is happening.”
SGF feigns ignorance The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, said yesterday he was not aware of the sack of 35 aides of the vice president.
The Director, Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), Mr. Willie Bassey, was quoted by Daily Trust Newspaper as saying that that his office was not aware of the development. “We are not aware of this, please,” Bassey said.
No rift between Buhari and Osinbajo – Presidency
The Senior Special Assistants to the President on National Assembly Matters, Babajide Omoworare (Senate) and Umar El-Yakub (House of Representatives), told journalists that there was no rift between Buhari and Osinbajo. Omoworare said the alleged misunderstanding between the Office of the President and that of the Vice President was untrue.
On the issue of signing the Deep offshore bill by the president in London, Omoworare said the constitution permitted the president to discharge his duties from anywhere. However, he was silent on why President Muhammadu Buhari failed to transmit a letter to the National Assembly handing over responsibilities to Osinbajo as he was doing before.
Resign now, Afenifere tells Osinbajo
The spokesman of the Pan-Yoruba Socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said yesterday that Osinbajo should resign because he had lost his relevance.
He said the vice president was virtually stripped of all his functions, humiliated several times and that the honourable thing to do was to resign. Speaking to our correspondent,
Odumakin said, “Clearly, they have totally humiliated him out. They have stripped him of all his functions, humiliated him in so many ways…”
He said Osinbajo was recently at a function with the Minister of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, but to his surprise, the minister stood up to read the president’s speech. “So what he is doing in that government is what I don’t understand.
His position in the current government has become untenable,” he said.