Despite doing everything possible to put on the appearance that nothing has changed, Menas Associates, a strategic and political risk consultancy, says the relationship between President Muhammadu Buhari and his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo appears to be continuing to deteriorate.
Buhari however, said the sacking of Osinbajo’s aides was part of the ongoing reorganisation at the Presidency. He was speaking for the first time since they were sacked. ‘’It is aimed at enhancing service delivery to Nigerians’’, President Buhari said.
Continuing, he said, ‘’it is unfortunate that the recent disengagement of some political appointees from the Presidency had been given ethnic and political interpretations. They said 35 people were sacked in the Vice-President’s office. We just created some ministries and we reorganised and people are giving it ethnic and political dimension. It’s unfortunate.’’
Buhari’s Spokesman, Garba Shehu, in a statement in Abuja, said the president stated this when he was answering questions from State House Correspondents, shortly after his arrival from London on Friday night.
According to Shehu, President Buhari said, ‘’we are going to work harder and be accountable. We have tried to make Nigerians understand why we do certain things. Accountability from bottom to top is absolutely necessary.
‘’Whoever is responsible for government property, (should know) it is public property, it is not personal and he has to manage it according to the law. That’s what I expect and I think that we have been around long enough to impress on people that we mean what we say.’’
But, for Menas Associates, the deteriorating relationship between Buhari and his deputy ‘’has been illustrated by the Presidency’s dismissal of 35 members of Osinbajo’s staff without any prior consultation with him. Although his office certainly did have too many staff, the way in which it was done appears to have been another deliberate attempt to marginalise Osinbajo.
‘’With his predominantly economy-focused responsibilities having already been removed from him the vice president is left with a largely ceremonial role, unless the president is seriously incapacitated.’’
Continuing, the political risk consultants said, ‘’currently, if Osinbajo is no longer the favourite to replace President Buhari in 2023, the most likely alternative is probably being Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
‘’However, the 2023 presidential election is still a long way off and Tinubu, the former Lagos State governor, and current national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), could face corruption allegations if Buhari decides to stand again, or support an alternative successor.’’
In another development, the consultants said pirates have staged two separate attacks within a week — to the west of Nigeria rather than off the Niger Delta —and have kidnapped 13 crew men from a dry bulk carrier and an oil tanker. It is a reminder of the danger to seafarers of the waters of the Gulf of Guinea which remain the world’s piracy hotspot.
‘’Nigeria’s oil production may decline in the near future because of a number of simultaneous factors including: the signing of the new investor unfriendly oil law which will increase the taxes on deep-water producers; the continuing delay in having a new licensing round; the absence of new Final Investment Decisions; and the International Oil Corporations’ on-going sell off of, not only their onshore Nigerian assets, but now some of their deep-water ones as well.
‘’The Dangote Refinery has once again pushed back the date of its inauguration from the end of 2020 to 2021. Meanwhile the government has pledged that, once they start operations, it will guarantee feedstock for both the Dangote Refinery and the four state-owned refineries that are hopefully going to be rehabilitated’’, Menas Associates said.
This excerpt is taken from Nigeria Politics & Security, its weekly intelligence report on Nigeria.