When some politicians who are renown for looting Nigeria and causing her to bleed flew to Dubai in October, we all thought they went there to strategise on how the infrastructural projects and social programmes of the Nigerian government can be improved.
We were expecting them to come back to Nigeria to show us plans – even if insincere – of how the current infrastructural projects in the country can be expanded, but they came back with nothing less than one of the things they are known for: mudslinging.
One person they have tried so much to taint is Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. They have tried everything from accusing him of embezzling public funds; to attempting to break the cordial relationship between him and APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
A reliable source close to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) hierarchy mentioned the plan to destabilise the South-West region by planting mistrust between VP Osinbajo and Asiwaju Tinubu.
We do not take Nigeria for granted and so we want to state the facts about their accusations.
The first thing is that the House of Representatives never accused the vice president of corruption or embezzlement of funds. The only accusation is that the funds he approved for the emergency situation in the North-East were not budgeted.
The truth, however, is that the funds in question, meant to pay for food supply to internally displaced persons, was an emergency and was approved in two tranches.
The first was N5 billion which was drawn via the National Food Security Programme, for which request was raised by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria as the facilitator of the programme, in a letter dated May 25, 2017.
This was at a time when the displaced persons and their host communities faced severe food shortages throughout the North-East, as a result of successive poor harvests and abandoned farmlands.
It was at a time the World Food Programme (WFP) had issued a warning that it would be reducing its vital support to about 1.8 million IDPs by more than 80%.
There was an immediate need to distribute grains to IDPs, and the only way to obtain the 30,000 Metric Tonnes required was to resort to the National Food Security Progamme (NFSP) earlier established by the Federal Government as a means of shoring up its strategic grain reserves.
The second tranche was N800 million approved for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for bagging, transportation, tracking, security, and contingency costs to handle the grains for the IDPs.
On account of the emergency nature of the procurement, these presidential approvals were well within the clear constitutional authority of the then Acting President Osinbajo.
Now to the plot to create mistrust between Osinbajo and Tinubu and their supporters: the Vice President is not unmindful of his roots and will never bite the finger that fed him, or as the Yorubas say ‘A kii ge ika ti o ma a n funni onje’.
It was Asiwaju Tinubu who put Osinbajo’s name forward as the Vice President when then presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari asked him to nominate people for his running mate slot. Tinubu was asked to nominate three people, but he chose just one person – Yemi Osinbajo. For someone who has raised leaders in Lagos and other state in this country, and who could easily count 50 people worthy of the VP slot to pick just one shows the level of trust reposed on Osinbajo. That trust is not one the VP has ever broken or will ever break.
During his time as a commissioner in Lagos, Osinbajo was exceptionally known for integrity and loyalty, in and out of the office. Osinbajo’s loyalty is so legendary that he had to seek the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye’s permission and blessing before accepting the Vice Presidential candidate slot of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Nigerians can count on that loyalty from someone who took an oath of office to defend their rights. He has been loyal in his discharge of his duties in Abuja.
Those behind the plot to stain Osinbajo’s stellar life and record are PDP stalwarts in the South-West with friends in the APC who can’t stand Tinubu.
Yes, we have intelligence report that some high-ranking people in the APC are collaborating with ‘looting-minded ‘people in the opposition to cause a rift between Osinbajo and Tinubu.
Their next plan is to cause another rift between Osinbajo and President Buhari. They believe that once the cordial relationship between Osinbajo and Tinubu is destroyed, the Tinubu house will collapse.
The PDP sympathizers in the South-West mentioned in the plan are one of the ministers and governors, who fancy their chances in the 2023 elections should Tinubu part ways with Osinbajo and refuse to support him.
The plan is to demonise Osinbajo and project him as overly ambitious.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. The congregation at the Olive Tree Parish of the RCCG can attest to his humility. So also can all the families he has interacted with, not only in his door-to-door campaigns in the run-up to the 2015 general elections and this year’s election, but also the many families he interacts with in his private time.
The PDP is behind the plot to split Osinbajo and Tinubu because of the desire to take the South-West in 2019 or 2023. These two people are the only problems they have in the region.
Their eyes are most likely on the more than N300 billion expected to be generated by Lagos State through the hard and smart work of the Bola Ahmed Tinubu camp. They have never had the interest of the people at heart.
Nigerians need to be aware that Osinbajo is a down to earth, humble public servant whose motivation is to serve Nigerians and lift the country to greatness.
•Sylvester writes from Lagos.