By Musa Alhassan
Our people say a toad does not wander about in the afternoon for no good cause. This is why we must examine the personal attacks that have been leveled against Professor Yemi Osinbajo, purportedly showing the disaffection of the “North”. Like all things crooked, the more you look, the less you see! The more you look at the allegations that the promoters have maliciously published and disseminated on various social media platforms, the less you see any truth or coherence in their work. Without more, this is a hatchet job! To tag their battle as a destruction of Prof Osinbajo’s “sainthood”, you must go back a long way to see that Prof did not just acquire the cloak of integrity overnight or in just 2 years as VP. His reputation for integrity, diligence and rendering humanitarian social service precedes his occupation of the Vice-President’s office. As Attorney-General of Lagos State, his integrity in public office is very well known, just as his reform of the justice sector is still being replicated across the country.
First, we know Dr Ismaila Farouk from Zamfara is a phony and not very well-thought-out alias. As you can imagine, one would expect an “Ismail” not “Ismaila” from Zamfara. So Dr. Ismaila, the paid underground media, and all other paid toads are only out in the afternoon to display the deadly fangs and teeth of their sponsors. If you are patient to read through to the end, you may get to discover who these sponsors really are. It’s a mix between “corruption striking back” and political jobbers grappling for personal relevance and power
Their first bite is Dr. Enelamah- an Igbo man. So, Dr Ismaila and his sponsors have an issue with Mr. President for picking a notable South-Easterner as his Minister for Industry, Trade and Investments. It is a well-known fact that Dr. Okey Enelamah, a graduate of the prestigious Havard Business School, and the Federal Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments is the pioneer chief executive of African Capital Alliance, Nigeria’s biggest private equity firm with over $1 billion in management and direct investments in Nigerian private companies. Dr. Enelamah who is well known in Nigerian investments circles, (including to the President’s Chief of Staff, Chief Abba Kyari, who was once an Executive Director at UBA) for leading investment into MTN Nigeria and other blue chip companies, was nominated by the President himself. Dr. Enelamah has done more to sustain the Nigerian project far more than the self-absorbed sponsors of this smear campaign as he has directly invested in small and big Nigerian companies that employ Nigerians from both North and South.
The lack of commonsense in this power play and diversionary tactic belies reason when we have just seen how the sit-at-home exercise by the agitators of Biafra proved effective. Now Dr Ismaila’s sponsors question a qualified Igbo man amidst the ongoing agitation. Please for God’s sakes, do not push Nigeria over the wedge for your evil and selfish aims. One can perceive the evil intentions of the sponsors in trying to create contention in identifying Mr. Wale Edun as Tinubu’s pick for Minister of Finance. First, it’s the President’s prerogative to consult with people and identify those that take up ministerial positions. Secondly, Babatunde Fashola represented Lagos State. So, how could the VP have been angling for a particular cabinet position against an individual who was not on the ministerial list? Also, to the extent that he is being tribal won’t the choice of Kemi Adeosun for finance from Ogun State be his obvious preference? So why Ismaila’s inconsistency that he preferred an Igbo man? Obvious mischief!
It is this old order that President Buhari came to fix when in repeated campaign speeches he promised to assemble a team of honest and competent professionals to move Nigeria forward.
As everyone recollects what is not a very distant past, the Cabinet Ministers were appointed long after the President and the Vice-President picked their aides. So, how can people be coming to terms with the choice of Dr. Enelamah when the Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff were appointed long before the ministers? The choice of Mr. Ade Ipaye as the Deputy Chief of Staff speaks to the interest of both the President and Vice President in competence and character. Mr Ipaye is a seasoned public servant and one of Nigeria’s foremost tax practitioners and was the immediate past Attorney General of Lagos State. A devout Muslim who goes about his work with extreme diligence and without fuss and the common airs of the Nigerian big man, was vetted by the President as suitable for administering the chunk of work for the Vice President within the Presidency. Anyone who knows Mr. Ipaye can see why Prof. Osinbajo, a man of similar ilk, will support a man with a humble and diligent disposition. Alluding to his descent from Ogun State (although he doesn’t even hail from Ogun State) as an indication of nepotism, without reference to his qualities as a professional and a decent man, shows you the reprobate hearts of the sponsors of this smear campaign.
The evil sponsors, somehow and conveniently, failed to mention that the biggest focus of this administration, which is the Social Investments Programme is being handled by Mrs. Maryam Uwais, a Muslim woman from Kano. Mrs. Uwais, a seasoned legal practitioner with years of experience in tackling social developmental issues is the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments and works in the Vice President’s office. Like all other Special Advisers and other political appointees, Mrs Uwais was appointed on the basis of merit and her character. The Vice-President is a man that pays attention to diversity and has given opportunity to women and youth. Particularly, Dr Balkisu Saidu, a female northerner is the Senior Special Assistant on Legal Matters. Also, Gambo Manzo, Hafiz Ibrahim, and Murtala Aliyu are all close aides of the Vice-President who hail from the North.
Somehow, the malicious sponsors of this smear campaign intend to taint the character of the VP by fabricating a falsehood about Simmons Cooper Partners (which was Prof Osinbajo’s previous law practice he resigned from to be Vice-President) obtaining “juicy” or any work from Federal Ministries and agencies. This is untrue. Everyone is aware of the requirements of the Public Procurement Act. An enquiry directed to the concerned ministries or agencies will show or disprove if there has indeed been any procurement of service that has been awarded or manipulated in favour of SimmonsCooper Partners.
As regards the appointment of Babatunde Irukera, the sponsors may choose to enquire from the consumer protection circles as to who is a more qualified professional who has contributed immensely to the body of consumer protection work . It is well known that Mr Irukera, who is from the North, has for decades now advocated for consumer protection rights, including formulating policies and regulations in consumer aviation and other sectors. The sponsors don’t ask the most relevant question for public service- Is he qualified and competent? No, they are only interested in their hatchet job. The same goes for Mrs. Yewande Sadiku who is very well known in investment banking circles. Many of these professionals are serving in these positions, not because of any pecuniary benefits but bringing their experience, knowledge and skills to bear for the public good.
Besides, the supervisory Ministers in charge of these agencies are mostly responsible for selecting the relevant chief executive. So why castigate and malign the VP? In most instances and as in the cases identified, the supervising Minister presents an appointee who is then evaluated and approved by the President. The assertion that the VP has appointed persons on the basis of their religious affiliation is disingenuous, malicious and untrue. The reference to Mr. Okoh’s relationship with the VP demonstrates the nature of the evil Nigeria is contending with. They rightly assert that Mr. Okoh (from the South-South) is a former CEO of a bank, but the claim that NNB (that consolidated in 2005 and ceased to exist then) had a retainer with Simmons Cooper is patently false. It is well known in legal circles that Simmons Cooper came into existence in the year 2006 and Professor Osinbajo joined the firm in 2007 after serving as Attorney General of Lagos State from 1999-2007. The vile sponsors of this smear campaign will stop at nothing- lies, falsehood and uncreative imaginations. Beyond innuendo, there’s no truth, accuracy or sense in the allegations of contracts, and taking over the work of the Ministry of Niger-Delta. Obviously, the President needed leadership to ensure that restiveness in the Niger-Delta was tackled, which was why he delegated the role to the VP. We are all witnesses to the effect of the VP’s engagement with the Niger-Delta.
Belief in the Nigerian State is characterized both by action and statements. The VP’s responsibility to all Nigerian people in his actions and statements is clear to all, except for the sponsors of this evil plot who have other sinister intentions in undertaking this hatchet job. From children to youth, to women, to the vulnerable in society, the VP demonstrated sense of empathy is apparent. Again, the allusion to a quarrel or tussle emanating from travel concerns to Lagos between the Chief of Staff and the VP is manifestly devious. The President and Vice President have enjoyed a cordial, symbiotic and brotherly relationship since they campaigned and got into office. The appointment of aides and political appointees within the presidency has never minimized or diminished this relationship. It is apparent that the VP continues to maintain a healthy relationship with the Chief of Staff. Anyone who knows the VP knows he is not given to frivolity and will not undertake needless travel nor run up expenditure. Prof. Osinbajo is focused on his job- that is to serve the Nigerian people in partnership with Mr. President who obviously continues to repose trust in his character and competence to deputise for him and deliver their promises to the people. The attempt to impugn his character is to stop the good work of all Nigerian people regaining confidence in the Nigerian State.
The big picture purpose of this smear campaign is not only to tarnish the image of the VP but also to derail Nigeria’s progress. This is the handiwork of the evil that has held Nigeria back. The evil axis of those drunk and made blind by the allure of power, permutations of 2019 and those struggling with corruption cases have found in the VP a stumbling block. They know he will not bend to their whims on relaxing the stance of Government on corruption. Do not be fooled. This is not the North! It’s corruption striking back. It’s personal parochial interest versus the people. This great evil must be resisted by all of us.