By Ezra Odogu, Abuja
Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has reacted to another claim by a journalist Festus Adebayo about a supposed rift between him and President Muhammadu Buhari.
Adebayo, who was appointed by the Senate President Ahmed Lawan as a spokesman but was sacked soon afterwards following widespread criticism for his critical reviews about Buhari’s administration, claimed Osinbajo fell out with his principal after two “infractions.”
First, Adebayo claimed Osinbajo engaged in a “prayer coup” when Buhari was away for medical treatment in the United Kingdom. He claimed Osinbajo with “his Redeemed Christian Church of God accomplices” in Ogun state, prayed to God to make him president.
Adebayo claimed Buhari’s ally entered during the prayer session and “the prayer warriors nearly prayed that the ground should swallow them when, upon opening their eyes, they saw the president’s ally with them.”
Secondly, Adebayo said Osinbajo primed Walter Onnoghen to “package Buhari inside a judicial casket” during the 2019 elections and the removal of Lawal Daura, erstwhile Director-General of the Department of State Services on August 7, 2018 also “rankled these owls.”
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, said the claim were “outright fiction and absolute mischief.”
“Was it in a church, in which case there would likely be an audio recording? Who are the prominent pastors or other persons involved that can testify to what transpired – what are their names,” Akande queried in the statement.
“Who is the “strong Buhari ally” who made a surprise appearance at the gathering and brought the story back to Mr. President?
“If, as Adedayo claims, the VP has been hounding and haranguing this Buhari ally since then, why is it so difficult for him to cry out and publicize his strange discovery?
“Who primed Onnoghen to “package Buhari inside a judicial casket” during the 2019 elections? And to whose benefit?
“If, for any reason, the Buhari election was nullified by the judiciary, how would that benefit his running mate, since they contested on the same ticket?”
Akande maintained that Buhari and Osinbajo have excellent working relationship and that the vice president respects his boss’s leadership.
“But there is a desperation in some quarters to create a division between the President and the Vice President,” Akande said.
Despite Akande’s insistence that all is well between the two leaders, critics have pointed to several instances that indicated that the once chummy relationship between the two may have gone sour.
Most recently, some of the vice president office aides were sacked, fueling the alleged rifts. But the Nigerian government said it sacked the aides in an attempt to “streamline decision-making, cut down multiple authorities and reduce the cost of administration.”
His refusal to transfer power when travelling out of the country and signing of a Nigerian law in the United Kingdom are other instances that critics said were deliberate attempts to undermine Osinbajo.
There are unconfirmed allegations that the president is trying to silence his vice president and also sideline him from the team of men making crucial decisions about governance.
However, the presidency has always denied any rift between the president and vice president. In fact, President Buhari had vaunted the relationship he has with Osinbajo.
But critics believed his public proclamations were a mere lip service and insisted that a powerful bloc led by Buhari’s chief of staff Abba Kyari has sidelined the vice president.