Aso Rock: Is Buhari In Charge?

[ctt_author author=”12254″ name=”TELL” template=”1″ link=”84aek” via=”no” ]Osinbajo hardly ever get to know that his boss would not attend the all-important meeting until cabinet members had assembled in the chamber[/ctt_author]

The anxiety created by the uncertain state of the health of President Muhammadu Buhari, the inter-agency rivalry that seeks to ridicule his authority and the discordant tunes within government and the ruling party appears to be having a toll on the country.   


In Nigeria’s power lexicon, dating back to the days of military rule, Aso Rock villa has always conjured up the image of a fortress, a seat of power devoid of the squabble common with many other places. But the picture is misleading as the villa, for as long as many can recall, has been a theatre of the most intense power play and rivalry among government officials close to the seat of government. This battle for supremacy has, for sometime now, been playing out among some government officials and heads of agencies of the current All Progressives Congress, APC administration and part of the motivation is self-interest and the need to either preserve the status quo or wield influence, sometimes sectional hegemony. Capitalizing on the ill health of the President, Muhammadu Buhari, who is recuperating after a recent treatment abroad, the officials leave nothing to chance in their determination to get their wish; and the stalemate or controversy over the president’ status, suits well the agenda as it makes them even more relevant.

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But it is not only the health of the president that has affected the potency of the presidency. The discordant tunes from officials over his health, and the idea of him working from his official quarters, within the State House being the norm, makes the issue of his ill-health form a shadow over matters of state. So while there appears to be a sharp division between supporters of the president who would rather critics allow him to rest whatever that costs the country and those who seem to gloat over his health, those in the corridor of power prefer to keep a straight face over the issue. That President Buhari is ill is not in doubt as even he himself had confessed so openly but the debate these days is on how his ill health has limited his capacity to effectively carry out his responsibilities as president. By last week he has been absent from the weekly federal executive council, FEC meeting for three consecutive times. One interesting that even Vice President Yemi Osinbajo hardly ever get to know that his boss would not attend the all-important meeting until cabinet members had assembled in the chamber. For instance, the president’s message asking him to chair the meeting was delivered to Osinbajo by the protocol officer while he was seated expecting the president. That speaks volume. It suggests that the president and his deputy did not communicate that morning before the meeting time. This may also imply that the vice president hardly had access to his boss enough to know how well he is recuperating. Could it then mean that Osinbajo was being diplomatic when he said he has regular meetings with the president?

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The curious thing there is that some ministers probably knew that the president was not going to be at last week’s meeting, which explains why almost half of the cabinet reportedly did not turn up for the meeting. The problem is that some ministers may have started to decide whether it was proper for them to attend meetings presided by the vice president who did not appoint them in the first instance, thus giving the impression that their allegiance is with the president. Since the report about operating from home was revealed by Lai Muhammed, the information minister, Buhari, apart from his visit to the mosque last Friday, was not seen in public. This has led to concerns among Nigerians of diverse persuasions about the true state of the President’s health and his ability to carry out his functions. Unfortunately, this has also given vent to such extreme positions as that of Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa, a lawyer to start a move to mount pressure for the president to be assisted out of office so the government can be properly run. The lawyer wanted to lead people to shut down government…

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