PRESIDENCY officials have confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari has sacked 35 of vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo’s saying it was not as a result of a rift between the two men but rather part of a strategy to streamline government operations and cut red tape.
Earlier this week, 35 of Professor Osinbajo’s aides were axed, including Obafemi Awolowo’s grandson and former Oyo State governor Abiola Ajimobi’s daughter, prompting suggestions that the presidency is trying to frustrate the vice president. Many political commentators are of the opinion that the move is part of the jostling ahead of the 2023 elections as the gladiators shape up for battle.
It is believed that President Buhari’s kitchen cabinet led by his chief of staff Abba Kyari, are behind the move as they seek to curtail the influence of Professor Osinbajo to prevent him from running for president in four years time. However, Mallam Garba Shehu, President Buhari’s spokesman has denied that the move was politically motivated, saying it was just part of an ongoing process of cutting the size of the government.
Mallam Shehu said: “The presidency wishes to confirm that there is, on-going, an unprecedented overhaul of the nation’s seat of government, arising from which a number of political appointments have either been revoked or not renewed in the second term. The exercise, which has been ordered by the president, is to streamline decision-making, cut down multiple authorities and reduce the cost of administration.
“It is also an appropriate response to the general perception that the presidency has an oversized and bloated workforce which acts as a drag on efficiency. As may have been noticed by discerning members of the public, a number of political appointees among the few that served in the office of the president were not returned for the second term.
“The office of the vice president, His Excellency Yemi Osinbajo has, in compliance with the directive of the president, equally been shed of a number of such appointees. In carrying out these exercises, the overriding objective is to save taxpayer’s money and deliver needed service to the public.
“As far as the president is concerned, there is no scope for an excuse for administration after getting a huge mandate to run the country for four more years. In the light of this, the presidency wishes to strongly deny rumours of a rift between President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the relationship between the two leaders remains excellent and trusting.
“Together, they will script a glorious future for the nation. The media reports of a soured relationship are originating from the minds and mouths of mischief-makers, who are desperate for entertaining stories from the Aso Rock Villa with which to titillate the public.
“This ulterior motive is the basis of the wrong interpretation given to the recent exercise in the presidency. There has been a streamlining of staff going on for a while and the president has always had fewer staff than the vice president, so there were always plans to reduce the number of staff at the villa.
“The streamlining was not personal or targeted to undermine the vice president’s office, as the so-called insider sources quoted by the media appear to make it seem. The president is in absolute control of his government, so the media should stop attributing non-existent powers to some people as there cannot be anyone too powerful for President Buhari to control.”