Strong indications have emerged that all may not be well with the ‘ad-hoc’ cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari as fillers from the Presidency indicate an unhealthy power tussle between an elected member of the President’s cabinet, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and an unofficial one in the person of Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai.
According to The Trent, Osinbajo and El-Rufai got to logger heads, when the governor insulted the vice president at a meeting at the presidential villa, Aso Rock.
In a reaction to the insult, Osinbajo rebuked El-Rufai and walked out of the meeting, which President Buhari was presiding.
According to inside presidential sources, El-Rufai is widely regarded as the unofficial vice president in the Buhari administration.
A top source within the Buhari government, who craved anonymity, disclosed that “Buhari prefers to have a fellow Northerner as his right-hand man”.
“He did so as military head of state and is uneasy with Osinbajo who is (Bola) Tinubu’s boy,” the source stated.
“As you know, if the position of veepee was appointed and not elected, Buhari would never have appointed a Southerner, a Christian for that matter to be his VP,” the source explained further.
“The President, clearly, prefers and places more trust on El Rufai as far as matters of governance are concerned. El Rufai has played a key role in some of the President’s appointments. He nominated Amina Bala Zakari for appointment as Acting INEC Chairman forcing Buhari to go against Jega’s earlier decision and planted his chief of staff who is also the founder of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, Hadiza Bala Usman inside President Buhari’s recently constituted Anti-Corruption Advisory Committee.”
There are various online reports and speculations that Osinbajo is not regarded by El-Rufai and many other northerners within Buhari’s adhoc cabinet. They believe that the vice president is ‘just a puppet in Tinubu’s hands’.
Other sources in the Presidency confirmed that had it not been for the Constitution which mandates the Vice President to be present in meetings of significance in the government, going by the aggressive push of the Northern bloc in the Presidency, Osinbajo would be left out of all high-power meetings, a scenario that happened twice in the first month of the new administration.
It would be recalled, in June 2015 that Osinbajo was locked out of a high-powered security briefing on the orders of Buhari. In attendance was the then, National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki and the top brass of the military led by the erstwhile Chief of Defence Staff, General Alex Badeh (Rtd).
The source revealed that at a meeting in Aso Rock, Governor El-Rufai, in disagreeing with Osinbajo’s notion, raised his voice and insulted the VP. Osinbajo reportedly got upset, told El-Rufai off and told the president:
“I am an elected Vice President of this country, I will not sit here while an ordinary governor insults me in your presence. I deserve some respect.” Having said that, Osinbajo, allegedly stormed out of the meeting in rage, leaving Buhari and others present shocked.
The Kaduna governor reportedly condemned the behaviour of the vice president, and further demanded that Buhari did something about the disrespectful act.
However, the president in his gracefulness is said to have reacted calmly as to still the brewing tension. The source said there were emissaries sent to appease Osinbajo, but the VP would not return to the meeting unless El-Rufai rendered an apology.
As of the time of filing this report, there is still no information on the reconciliation between the two.