Aso villa: Walking in the Valley of the Shadow of Death (1)

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Asked by some would-be foreign investors filled with trepidation about doing business in Nigeria, former President Olusegun Obasanjo responded thus: “Should you encounter any problems, speak with the Minister. If the Minister is unable to resolve the issues, see the Vice President. For whatever reason, if the Vice President cannot help you, come back to me and I will solve your problems. If I can’t solve your problem, then you will have to get an appointment to seek resolution from God “.  In other words, as President in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was confident in the knowledge that he was the appointed representative of the power of God over Nigeria and Nigerians. And, in truth, he has a lot of experience regarding the use and abuse of absolute power. 

Power, by my interpretation, is an extremely potent cosmic numinous entity which exists as a tool of dominion or control or authority over living things and the elements. Properly utilized, power aids growth and heals, but will propel or foster chaos and destruction in the wrong hands. Almost every human being loves or seeks what power offers in its various forms, and many would go to dangerous and unscrupulous lengths in pursuit of it. And, wherever power resides, there also reside “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of both human and spiritual forms. And, whether in Nigeria or in any part of the world, it would probably not be an exaggeration to say that travelling the roads that lead to power may be likened to passing through “the Valley of the Shadow of Death” (Psalm 23 for perspective). This is because danger lurks in almost every corner and at every turn in readiness to destroy those who seek or hold power, and those who are, or perceived to pose, a credible threat to the “power base” or the structure that supports economic or political power. 

Aso Villa, Abuja, is the official resident and Office of the President and Commander-in-Chief of Nigeria’s Armed Forces, it is also the ultimate seat of power in Nigeria. At Aso Villa, treachery is a common avocation, betrayals are commonplace, deceit and subterfuge are the order of the day, while power-grabbing is a never-ending blood sport. What is almost comical about all of these is that no-one, not even the President or Vice President, has any form of immunity whatsoever. One would not be far from the truth to say that all those who work in, or conduct business with, Aso Villa are working in the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” – and that includes even the President and Vice President. It should be noted that these deadly games of treachery and betrayals are not exclusive to Aso Villa. What comes to mind immediately are the audacious plans by the James Ibori ‘gang’ to deprive President Olusegun Obasanjo a second term in office (2003) in favor of Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and the self-serving efforts of the sycophants who goaded an initially reluctant President Obasanjo into seeking an unconstitutional third term in office. Initially reluctant? Yes, because a third term in office was no more than the orchestration of some political miscreants who are still disrupting the polity till today. 

These deadly games of treachery and betrayals are also prevalent in the different State Government Houses all over the country, though not at the same levels as seen in Aso Villa, Abuja. I remember the sordid account of the travails of Chief Audu Ogbeh as National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) when he stumbled on plans to assassinate Anambra State Governor, Dr. Chris Ngige, and disclosed his findings to President Olusegun Obasanjo. Details of these stories, and more, will be featured in upcoming series.

For now, who are the political “principalities” and masquerades behind plans to remove Vice President Yemi Osinbajo from office one way or another, and why? Why are the Vice President’s political base, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and his political ‘godfather’ seemingly indifferent to suggestions of his removal from office or possible resignation?    

Social media, radio, television, and the newspapers have been deployed in an assault on the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo in what many have described, and maybe so, as smear campaigns. By their actions, some political “principalities” in the visible and non-visible “corridors of power” have declared “war” on the Vice President and want him removed from office. The reason(s)? Nothing tenable, except for rumors and spurious allegations. And, in some cases, spin doctors have inundated the media with gloomy interpretations of routine processes in the Presidency. For a man who stole the hearts of Nigerians and gained the confidence of the international community, Vice President Osinbajo has had to withstand a barrage of campaigns of calumny over the past few months. A fairly large number of well-meaning politicians and other Nigerians who vouch for the Vice President’s integrity have attributed these smear-campaigns to the rumors of a Presidential run in 2023. True or not, one or two of the political heavyweights who have declared an interest in a 2023 Presidential run probably feel the need to narrow the field of credible potential candidates. Visibly absent for Vice President Osinbajo throughout this period of assault on his person and office, is the vocal or silent support of his political mentor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Their mutual friends and closest associates swear to the fact that without Asiwaju Tinubu’s blessing, the Speaker and the House of Representatives would never have moved against the Vice President the way they did. According to credible sources, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is aggrieved that Professor Yemi Osinbajo is reported to be making plans to run against him in the 2023 Presidential race. This, he has voiced to some, is an act of disloyalty. Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was so vexed that he removed the name of the Vice President’s nominee from the list of Commissioners in Lagos State, even though he has tried unsuccessfully to deny it. 

And, what are the punishment(s) for disloyalty to the APC ‘godfather’? The prescribed punishments are similar when one considers what was dished out to President Muhammadu Buhari when Asiwaju Bola Tinubu accused and found the President guilty of ingratitude and disloyalty after the 2015 General elections. First, a sponsored smear-campaign aimed directly at the Professor Osinbajo’s personal and professional pride, dignity, and integrity that would force his resignation as Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The second punishment was to cause such disaffection as would give Party members no other choice but to remove the lush carpet and political structure of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from under the Vice President’s feet. It is important to note here that all these gambits are contained in Asiwaju Tinubu’s personal handbook on ‘political engagement’. One thing is certain. Asiwaju Tinubu is “as serious as a heart attack” in his ambition to become the next President of Nigeria after President Buhari, and he is preparing an arsenal of financial resources and dirty tricks to destroy any, and all, credible threats. 

It is no rumor when I say that Asiwaju Tinubu has engaged a foreign investigative entity to gather forensic dirt on some prominent politicians and government officials in readiness for retaliation against those who resort to any attempts to assassinate his character. All that aside, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s assault on, and disaffection with, the Vice President gained the support of those who already had huge ‘axes to grind’ with the Professor. 

As it is, there are three major sets of politicians and government officials who have issues with, or an “axe to grind”, with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo: (a) Those prominent politicians and close associates of President Muhammadu Buhari who unwittingly revealed themselves in the unsuccessful deadly conspiracy to remove him from office on account of ill-health. The Vice President had flatly refused to be complicit. (b) All the representatives of the sixty-two (62) companies who lost the opportunity to share N186 (One Hundred and Eighty-Six) Billion in the RUGA arrangement that was cancelled by the Vice President after consultation with his boss. (c) Aggrieved Christian leaders who claim that almost all job openings in the Presidency and other Government Agencies were awarded to favor Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adeboye and his followers. This is an allegation that has already been debunked.                                 

Of all the issues laid out in the preceding paragraph, the most serious is the first – the conspiracy to remove the President from office. This goes back to President Muhammadu Buhari’s first term in office when his health had taken a turn for the worse. The situation led to the President’s hospitalization overseas and an unavoidably long absence from Nigeria. The sponsored clamor was unceasing in many parts of the country that the President should either resign or be removed from office for inability to discharge the functions of his office due to infirmity of body (and probably of mind, some said). 

In trust, and in line with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari had handed over custody of power to his deputy, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, an erudite Professor of Law, to act as President. 

News (fake and otherwise) was sponsored and spread that President Muhammadu Buhari’s health had deteriorated badly and he had exceeded stipulated Constitutional limits for absence from office on grounds of ill-health. The political “principalities” from different parts of the country had begun to converge and conspire, while the ‘vultures’ circled Aso Villa. They approached the Acting President with a “common sense” plan to replace ‘a President in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and other debilitating ailments’. Totally misjudging the character and integrity of then Acting President Osinbajo, they pledged their support and urged him to invoke the relevant clauses in the Nigerian Constitution for removal and replacement of President Buhari. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo flatly refused the entreaties, and resisted sustained political pressure, from both known adversaries and supposedly close friends of President Buhari to take advantage of the (so dubbed) “opportune” moment. And, as President Buhari will attest, Vice President Osinbajo paid more unscheduled moral lifting visits than scheduled official visits during President Buhari’s hospitalization and convalescence. The Vice President held the fort, staving off the wolves and vultures circling the Presidency for the slightest opportunity to feed on the natural consequences of greed, moral corruption, treachery, and inordinate ambition. After revealing themselves and intent, it needs to be understood that the risks involved for any man or woman who takes such a stand could have been fatal. Why, you may ask? Mortal enemies would have been made of all those who came out from lurking in the ‘darkness’ to expose their true nature and identities. The Vice President stood his ground and performed his duties as expected by the President and all Nigerians, holding the fort until President Buhari recovered.                   

A little fact that is relevant but unknown to many is the role that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo played in the drafting of Nigeria’s Constitution when he served as Special Assistant to former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Prince Bola Ajibola. In other words, Vice President Osinbajo is more familiar with the 1999 Constitution in all its ramifications than most attorneys and ordinary Nigerians. If there was anyone with an understanding of the fundamental concepts of the Nigerian Constitution that could have taken advantage of its content and intent, that person would be Professor Yemi Osinbajo – particularly with his political position as Vice President. 

Contrary to the suggestion that the Vice President had not made the move to replace President Buhari out of fear, his refusal not to take what was not his was borne out of a life of loyalty, contentment, and integrity. It also takes a special breed of fearless people to confront the evils that lurk both in the open and in the dark in the ‘Valley of the Shadow of Death’. Such people would indeed require the protection that only God the Creator can offer or guaranty, plus His “rod and staff” for comfort. This is the second time that President Muhammadu Buhari has survived the walk through the “Valley of the Shadow of Death”. He went in without any fears and God has watched over him, granting guidance and healing. For sure, the President must have come to full recognition of the fact that his deputy and a few other good men did not yield to a   conspiracy that might have been another disaster for the country he had fought to unify during Nigeria’s Civil War. 

Anyhow, the political blood sport of treachery, hypocrisy, and deceit are on, with the probability that things will get worse as the different races for the 2023 General Elections pick up pace. While the Vice President has not declared any intention to run, would he have a chance if he did, particularly in a blood sport arguably alien to his nature? For a man of average physique, his stature has grown locally and internationally, thus constituting a credible threat to self-styled political juggernauts. And, regarding the wishful thinking that the smear campaigns would force a resignation, the Vice President remains confident in the knowledge he has God to provide guidance and protection as he battles all seen and unseen ‘demons’ that lurk in the ‘Valley of the Shadow of Death’.    

Now that President Buhari is back in the country looking stronger and healthier, particularly after his Supreme Court victory, what will happen next?  

The series continue.

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