A few days ago, in reply to a tweet by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), a Nigerian named Abubakar, wrote, “Working together is a sign of good leadership. The country needs both of you for the next six years and may the Almighty God grant him (President Buhari) good health.”
Similarly, another Nigerian, tweeting with the handle, @sebastineadele, wrote, “”Thanks for holding forth for the President. You did very well while he was away. May God continue to grant you both the wisdom to govern Nigeria.”
These tweets may have succinctly captured the feelings of many Nigerians on the performance of Osinbajo as Acting President in the 104 days President Muhammadu Buhari was away on medical vacation.
During this period, Osinbajo was a study of commitment to national service and united leadership under a one-government system. From Abuja, Bayelsa to Borno, Osinbajo showed dedication to upholding the vision of the Buhari presidency to make the country better for Nigerians through its various programmes.
Osinbajo’s personal and leadership qualities have not only endeared him to Nigerians, they have also helped in steering Nigeria in the right direction at a time when critics and naysayers stoked controversies over the duration of the President’s medical vacation.
It is pertinent to say that the criticisms were unnecessary as the President did the right thing by constitutionally transmitting powers to Osinbajo to run the country in his absence.
There has been quite a few misleading assumptions and misrepresentation regarding some of the dynamics regarding the VP assuming acting president status.
For instance, in trying to explain President Buhari’s letter to the National Assembly transmitting powers to Osinbajo as Acting President, some claimed that there was ‘raging controversy’ over the exact designation of Osinbajo’s role as acting president. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The bottom line was that the President did what was right and fully in accordance with the constitution. Section 145 of the 1999 Constitution states, “Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary such functions shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President.””
In the same vein, there were such claims that ‘another controversy broke out on who would sign the 2017 budget’; distorting facts by misrepresenting a statement erroneously credited to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.
As a matter of fact, the acting president’s delay in signing the budget was simply because he was not yet satisfied with it. Nothing more. This was also clarified by the Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the Vice President, Laolu Akande, in a tweet on May 17, stating that Osinbajo would assent to the 2017 budget when he was satisfied with it. ““Just so we are clear: when the time comes, everything is set, and he is satisfied, Ag. President Yemi Osinbajo will assent to the 2017 Budget,” Akande had tweeted.
Similarly, this was the same line of thought for the acting president in delaying the swearing in of the two ministerial nominees after their screening on May 3. Due process had to be followed, both in law and in clarity. For the record, the two ministers, Stephen Ocheni and Suleiman Hassan, were assigned portfolios as Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Productivity and Minister of State, Power, Works and Housing respectively.
What Nigerians have come to realise about the VP is the seriousness, devotion, care and diligence with which he handles his constitutional responsibilities, either as vice president, his substantive role, or as Acting President, while the President was away.
Some have even erroneously described the vice president’s meeting with state chairmen of the ruling All Progressives Congress at the Presidential Villa on August 2 as one of purely partisan political party meetings. It was nothing short of mischief.
Like the APC, many Nigerians, including chieftains of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, have commended Osinbajo’s forthrightness in service and competent leadership while the President was away.
Despite the misrepresentation by some critics of the government, alluding that the acting president had to travel to London to get approvals before making some decisions, it is clear that Osinbajo and President Buhari are working together and united in their resolve to make the country better for all Nigerians.
Akande noted that, “Interpreting reasonable and regular communication between the acting president and the president as teleguiding of one by the other is simply curious in the least or perhaps pure mischief. These two gentlemen have always worked together as a team and will continue to do so.”
Unlike what happened in similar circumstances in the recent past, the Buhari and Osinbajo presidency has shown that it is united and one that follows due process and uphold the nation’s constitution in leadership by example.
Also, there is nothing unusual in Osinbajo visiting Buhari while he was away on medical vacation. The duration of the visit is inconsequential. Leadership of a country is not a solo effort.
In the same vein, Osinbajo reiterated this during an interview with CNN Zain Asher at the Nigerian Bar Association conference in Lagos on August 21, when he noted that, both he and the President always worked as a united team
In his over 100 days as Acting President, Osinbajo recorded numerous achievements for the Buhari presidency. His visit to the Niger Delta contributed to the peace in the region. Also, his tour of the oil-rich region further communicated the significance of President Buhari’s s New Vision for the Niger Delta; a comprehensive peace, security and development plan that will ensure that the people benefit fully from the wealth of the region, as well as the environmental clean-up of Ogoni land, which started last year.
In the area of economy, there have been significant improvements in manufacturing, agriculture, technology and innovation around the country. Osinbajo recently noted that there would be more improvement in several areas of the economy, as well as in the business environment and the ease of doing business in the country.
Similarly, more jobs are also being created nationwide through the Buhari administration’s Social Investment Programmes, which has recorded numerous successes under the acting president, and will expectedly continue under the Buhari presidency.
The SIPs are the N-Power, which selected and engaged 200,000 unemployed Nigerians graduates for a volunteer job programmers, the Conditional Cash Transfer being implemented now in nine states, General Economic and Empowerment Programme, GEEP; a micro credit scheme that has given out almost 60,000 loans out already, and the National Homegrown School Feeding Programme, where 25 million meals have been served and almost three million schoolchildren in 14 states fed so far with 33,895 cooks engaged.
The economy, is gradually bouncing back from recession, because of the commitment of this administration through its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan which built on the foundations laid by the Strategic implementation Plan of 2016.
Many Nigerians have also praised Osinbajo for his unflinching loyalty to the President in discharging his duties as acting president.
One of them is Boniface Ortese, who on Facebook described Osinbajo as the definition of loyalty. He added, “I am really awed by your leadership style. I think I have found a role model in you. God bless your efforts so far and may He give you more strength to handle all circumstances others can’t handle together with our dear president.”
Smith, a public affairs analyst, sent this piece from Abuja.