By Levinus Nwabughiogu
Though he had previously functioned as Acting President in 2016, he didn’t break the ice until January 19, 2017, when his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari, traveled to London on medical vacation. A couple of activities gave him some resonance. Yet, again, another opportunity has presented itself and he has grabbed it with both hands, obviously fulfilling the dreams of his boss. While the opportunity is usually hard to come by, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo is twice lucky, filling the big shoes of the President. Read the account of his activities in his second week of acting career.
Professor Yemi Osinbajo is a lucky man. His streak is not on account of his election as the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigerian in March 2015, or on the basis of his brilliance, or even on the spur of his political dynasty; but on the benevolence of his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is arguably a politician in the Nigerian mould.
Any good student of history and indeed, many keen followers of political developments in Nigeria would attest to the fact that Buhari has given Osinbajo the liberty, latitude and has lifted him to the altitude to operate at his own whims and caprices. Thus, Osinbajo is everywhere at every time. This is usually not a common practice in Nigeria with deputies.
Osinbajo’s first ice
In the earlier transfer of power, Osinbajo literally faced no inhibitions in the discharge of his functions. As a fact of governance, he took important decisions and performed some functions that could only be strictly presidential.
One of such actions (though many abound) was the inauguration of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen on March 7, 2017, while Buhari was away.
Many Nigerians saw and still see that development as a signature event and only a true believer of a democratic ethos, like Buhari can either approve that exercise in absentia or stomach the consequences upon his return – the swearing-in came after the National Judicial Council, NJC had re- nominated him for the position on the heels of the expiration of first nomination.
His second missionary journey
Yet again, Osinbajo is in the saddle on the account of another demonstration of the seeming synergy between President Buhari and his deputy – although there are insinuations to the contrary.
Empowered via the fulfillment of Section 145 (1) of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution (as amended), Osinbajo is actively in play again.
In this second missionary journey which started on May 7, 2017, when Buhari went back to London for a medical follow-up, Osinbajo has had to take decisions that can also be best be described as purely presidential.
And this time, the Acting President is more conscious of the powers vested in him than the previous times he acted.
Monday, May 15-Meeting of the Economic Management Team
Osinbajo’s week began with the regular Monday meetings of the Economic Management Team which he chairs.
He left the meeting for another which dwelt on maritime security.
Still, that same day, the Acting President met behind closed doors with some top security Chiefs. Among those at the meeting were the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), General Gabriel Olonishaki, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
On Tuesday, May 16, Anniversary of Africa Finance Cooperation
Osinbajo’s first port of call on Tuesday was the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, where he attended the Anniversary of the Africa Finance Cooperation.
He later returned to the office and met behind closed doors with Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State.
The governor, who later briefed journalists on the outcome of their meeting, said that security topped the agenda.
He said: “I am here to brief him of the security situation in my state. We are on top of the situation and things are coming down, the herdsmen and the farmers are now cooperating. The understanding is that no one should encroach into anyone’s farm whether for cattle breeding or farming activities”.
Wednesday, May 17, FEC meeting
Wednesday was the regular meeting of the Federal Executive Council, FEC which Osinbajo chaired. It was at the meeting he announced the release of another Chibok girl.
Osinbajo’s second ice
Thursday, May 18 – Signing of three Executive Orders on the Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria.
Thursday was quite hectic for the Acting President. For one, it was a day Osinbajo recognised and fully exercised the powers vested in him. One remarkable thing is that he and his office suddenly became conscious of these powers and sounded it aloud unlike the previous times. The reasons are best known to them.
It was on this day that Osinbajo signed three Executive Orders which would increase patronage for locally manufactured goods and boost the economy.
It would also remove all bureaucratic bottlenecks that stifled growth of businesses in Nigeria.
The three executive orders touched on specific instructions on a number of policy issues which included “the promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment, designed to facilitate the ease of doing business in the country; timely submission of annual budgetary estimates by all statutory and non-statutory agencies, including companies owned by the Federal Government; and support for local contents in public procurement by the Federal Government.”
The Acting President had earlier on participated in an interactive session at the old Banquet Hall of Presidential Villa with all relevant government officials, including some ministers, permanent secretaries and heads of departments and agencies among others.
The session was meant to directly engage government officials who would be implementing the orders and the new instructions.
The three orders, as categorized and released by his office, are:
*On the Promotion of Transparency and Efficiency in the Business Environment
*On support for local contents in public procurement by the Federal Government.
Each of the Orderswere prefixed like this: “NOW THEREFORE, PURSUANT TO THE AUTHORITY VESTED IN ME BY THE CONSTITUTION AS THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, I HEREBY ORDER AS FOLLOWS:…
Each ended with his name as Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Friday, May 19-Osinbajo receives 2017 budget passed by National Assembly
Osinbajo’s second week of Acting presidency climaxed with the receipt of the 2017 budget passed last week by the National Assembly.
He also received briefing from the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, during a meeting with the Boundary Commission at the State House.
With the two events, Osinbajo’s Friday was made.
Saturday, May 20-Osinbajo in Lagos for Eyo Festival.
The Acting President’s week are not usually complete without a trip to Lagos, his real home. And so, yesterday, he jetted out to Lagos for this year’s Eyo Festival which coincided with the 50th anniversary of Lagos.
Between President Buhari and Osinbajo, it’s been so far, so good. Hardly has there been news of dissension. But there appears to be some disturbing chattering from within. Obviously, this shouldn’t be the lot of the country at a time like this. More than any time else, the two helmsmen need the greater support of Nigerians to fully realise the dream for their country. And so, all hands should be on deck as their success can only move the nation forward – not minding the nefarious efforts of the nay- sayers.