On Monday, the loud murmurings of several weeks on social media finally caught the attention of the presidency.
The issue had been the quiet but sometimes quarrelsome debate between and among contending forces over how much shine Acting President Yemi Osinbajo had taken away from President Muhammadu Buhari since the latter embarked on medical vacation on January, 19.
It would seem trivial but the debate had been intense.
For many fans of Osinbajo, his ‘magic wand’ must be the reason there appears to be some renewed vigour, hope and pace in governance.
They were quick to point to his ‘diplomatic’ shuttles to the Niger Delta, a region the ailing President had avoided lately for some unconvincing reasons. There is a belief that his ‘wide’ consultations explain the relative calm that pervades the zone, and the increasing volume of oil production that is helping to stabilize the nation’s revenue.
Osinbajo’s recent push in the Forex market is also reported as reason the Naira has been saved further bashing from other international currencies. The Naira had gained some 15% value in 4 days after a long spell on the downside.
Other supporters have added that there is renewed confidence in the economy with Osinbajo’s aggressive pursuit of ‘ease-of-doing-business agenda which hopes to remove unnecessary bottlenecks on the way of would-be investors and visitors to the country.
The icing, his fans claim, is the outcome of the final phase of the Rivers re-run poll which seemed to have also restored some confidence in the electoral process. The trouncing of a ruling party chieftain, Rotimi Amaechi, even in his own area, is said to owe largely to Osinbajo’s insistence that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must deliver on its integrity mandate.
Osinbajo’s perceived brilliance was bound to raise eye brows, and it did create some measure of discomfort within the contending forces in the ruling party.
On Monday, the presidency, speaking through Babafemi Ojudu, Buhari’s Special Adviser on Political Matters, reacted sharply to insinuations that Osinbajo may be out-performing the vacationing president. He described as ‘mischief makers’ those who, by their positions, held that the Acting President had done appreciably well in leading differently.
“There is nothing that has been done since the Vice-President started acting that is not something that started far back in the past.
“The same people who said we never had economic team, no policy, nothing, are the ones saying this. It is now that the policies we are implementing are maturing and they are seeing the result. It is not a question of one person being better than the other person.,” Ojudu said.
“These are mischief makers, those who do not wish this country well, who are always promoting crisis, who will not allow the people to benefit from this democracy. They are the ones promoting this kind of divisive tendencies,” he added for emphasis.
Rationalizing the import of power distribution at the presidency, Ojudu said, “He (Osinbajo) is in charge but like I said earlier on, this is a joint ticket. The President of Nigeria remains the President of Nigeria. He is acting because it’s one and the same.
“He (Buhari) is more experienced, he has been in the game longer than the Vice-President and if there are major issues that he needs to take decision on, he could call on him and say ‘Sir, what do you think about this we are about to take decision on it? Do you have an opinion? That does not mean he is not in charge.”
The presidency betrayed some emotions, undoubtedly. There are obvious jitters within the fold.
Perhaps, without knowing it, Acting President Osinbajo broke the first Law of Power. He had, for all practical purpose, taken some shine off his principal.
If anything, there is a very strong perception that, being erudite, he has brought more panache and energy to governance. His style appears to engender an environment for fertile discourse which reverberates in the, ‘We hear you loud and clear,’ posture.
He is seen as more accessible, demystifying the office of the President and reaching out more closely to the citizens. True, he mingled with the populace in ‘dreaded’ Niger Delta and even took a stroll at the International Airport in Lagos, personally investigating why services may be out-of-order.
Osinbajo broke the first Law of Power!
His failure provides a disturbing insight into the contradictions of power and the on-going power play in the presidency. It speaks of the many challenges that hold the country down and the impending battle to mobilize and win over Nigerians in the concerted effort to build a great nation.
Osinbajo’s ‘failure’ informs the greater need to demystify government and bring governance closer to the people.