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BURDEN OF A VICE-PRESIDENT

By Desmond Ekwueme

BURDEN OF A VICE-PRESIDENT

Every position or good situation comes with its own challenges. Every job has its hazard. Yes, the office of the Vice-President is a desirous one given that it attracts all the goodies one can think of….and if it provides a single opportunity for the occupant to act as president then, what else can one pray for, ask for, wish or desire?
Since 1999, Nigeria has had four Vice-Presidents in Abubakar Atiku, Jonathan Goodluck, Namadi Sambo and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. The quartet has different stories to tell given their separate and individual experiences either for good or bad. Call it different strokes for different folks and you won’t be wrong. For instance, Atiku has over time spoken of the near Hell he passed through or experienced under his principal, Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo especially towards the end of their eight-year/two-term administration. We also heard of how Jonathan was called a “class captain” by a Minister and member of Late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s kitchen cabinet or cabal. That was at the height of the lengthy treatment of Yar’Adua and the move for Jonathan to visit his boss in hospital abroad which was stoutly resisted by the cabal.
For the incumbent VeePee, Osinbajo, it is very difficult to say he is having a roller-coaster ride especially when we consider the activities of the reverred “cabal” in the presidency. One must say at this point that, the cabal is not the creation of the Muhammadu Buhari presidency or administration….It has been in existence before now. But perhaps the present cabal may be taking its activities above board.
For the newly inducted in our political atmosphere, the cabal is the kitchen cabinet of an administrator. It is made up of his or her most trusted hands or loyalists who can swim or sink with the administrator. The members of this highly favoured and reverred group are like “auto-pilot” to the aircraft cum pilot….in this case, the administrator. This implies that they can run the affairs or activities or functions or duties of the administrator in his or her absence or on his or her behalf. He or she doesn’t need to be available for things to run or move smoothly or successfully.


Ironically in our clime, the deputy, vice or assistant to or of the administrator is often not part of this reverred group called “the cabal” for very obvious reasons.This is often the headache of the deputies. Osinbajo like his predecessors is not a member of the present cabal and he cannot pretend to be enjoying the situation even as he cannot complain…Perhaps “suffering and smiling” is the best method to apply as a deputy….apologies “Abamieda” Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
Just yesterday a new DSS Boss Yusuf Magaji Bichi was appointed to replace Bayelsa-born Matthew Seiyefa who himself was appointed by Osinbajo shortly after Lawal Daura was sacked. As at the time Seiyefa was appointed, Nigerians applauded Osinbajo’s decision to give the job to Seiyefa who was most senior in the hierarchy despite the fact that his retirement was fast approaching. But the same Nigerians are taken aback by Bichi’s appointment. They ask, was Osinbajo’s appointment of Seiyefa faulty? They wonder if it is a wise decision to replace a serving officer with a retired one as several reports have alleged….that Bichi had retired some six months ago.


However, one must state clearly here that if the DSS Boss is a member of the kitchen cabinet of Mr. President then, the latter has a right to pick whoever he is comfortable with as DSS Boss especially as picking a retired officer does not violate the law. Suffice this to mean that Mr. President is not comfortable with Seiyefa’s appointment by Osinbajo from day one that the Bayelsa-born security cum intelligence chief was appointed. At least those who said the last of the sack of Daura has not been heard when the news broke are not wrong after all. Their position or doubt was because Mr. President was away hence many raised fear if Osinbajo actually consulted and briefed him before reaching his decisions.
Today we hear that the governing party All Progressives Congress (APC) has picked Osinbajo to represent his principal at the forthcoming presidential debate. One can only ask, is it a norm? Even if Osinbajo has no choice but to accept the order, he probably may not be too comfortable with the idea since he is not the president especially as most of his decisions taken on acting capacity while his boss was away on a 10-day vacation have been annulled.
Perhaps we have to take another look at the President/Vice-President working relationship of our political system for the future. We have to also x-ray the formation, roles and needs of the kitchen cabinet of and by our presidents. May be a new orientation on leadership and governance is needed too for us to build trust on the foundation of fairness, equity and justice.

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