By Eric Teniola

This is the continuation of this piece from last week which listed the appointments made by President Obasanjo for the office of the Vice-President.

PRESIDENT Obasanjo also directed the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Ufot Ekaette, to assign the following portfolios to the Office of the Vice-President.

They are General Services and Administration, States and Local Government Affairs, Code of Conduct Bureau, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, NIPSS, National Population Commission, Public Complaints Commission and National Planning Commission.

Unlike what is playing out now, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar had the privilege and power to nominate ministers, ambassadors, special advisers and other officials from Adamawa State.

So close by then were President Obasanjo and Alhaji Atiku that Villa Scope, the official news magazine of the State House coordinated by Chief Tunji Oseni, Chris Mammah, Tunde Olusunle, Steve Itugbu, Musa Aduwak, Justin Abuah, Sule Katsina and Lanre Idowu, described the bond between the two men as a “strong relationship that works”. 

In the second term, things fell apart. Only the two men can explain what really happened. I still believe, till today, that if Chief Mrs Stella Abebe Obasanjo (1945-2005) had not died in Puerto Banus in Spain on October 23, 2005 and if Otunba Oyewole Fasawe, the Asiwaju of Owo, who was and is still a close friend of the two men was not incarcerated at that time, the relationship between President Obasanjo and Atiku Abubakar could not have degenerated so low, during the second term of President Obasanjo in office. 

It is wrong to pretend that the rift between former President Obasanjo and Atiku Abubakar did not affect the smooth running of the government between 2003 and 2007. Of course it did. Careers of many public officers were ruined by the crack.

Most did not recover till today. Some were heartbroken, some even died. It was a difficult period for those close to the two of them. There was the case of Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, former Managing Director of The Daily Times and a literature guru and friend of the two men. Unaware of the rift, he flew from Lagos and by mistake first visited Atiku Abubakar.

He was disallowed from seeing President Obasanjo in spite of his scheduled appointment. The complete loyalty of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Ufot Ekaette and that of the Chief of Staff to the President, Major General Abdullahi Mohammed, saved the central government, in spite of the numerous travels of President Obasanjo at that time. 

The carryover of the split has affected Obasanjo and Atiku and the rest of us till today. I do not know what the incumbent Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, is going through. But talking generally of the office, it is a dead-end job. I was in Ikenne, the hometown of Professor Osinbajo in Ogun State recently and I watched regularly the projects sited in Daura on television, the home town of President Buhari; there is a lot of difference. The power of the presidency has transformed Daura while there has not been a change in Ikenne in the last six years. Ikenne is not just the hometown of the legendary Chief Obafemi Awolowo (March 6, 1909 – May 9, 1987), it is also the headquarters of Ikenne Local Government Area in Ogun State. For example, in the last six years, the following have been established in Daura:  The Federal Polytechnic, Daura; Airforce Reference Hospital, Daura; Women and Children Hospital, Daura; University of Transportation, Daura; Kano-Maradi rail line will pass through Daura; School for People with Special Needs, Daura; Nigeria Airforce Response Air Wing, Daura; Nigeria Army 171 Battalion Base, Daura and the Forward Operating Base, Daura; National Directorate of Employment Centre, Ganga, Daura; Upgrade and Expansion of Daura Mini-Stadium; Sustainable Development Goals Skills Acquisition Centre, Zango Road, Daura; Completion of the Sabke Dam, Daura supplies one million litres of water to Daura and neighbouring communities.

Others include several SDG School Projects in Daura; 73km 132KVA line from Katsina to Daura and two 30 and 40 MVA transformers to boost power supply; dualisation of the 72km Katsina-Daura road, 50-bed maternity centre at the Daura General Hospital built under the name of the First Lady; Sir Emeka Offor E-Library, Daura; a 400,000 litres capacity solar powered water system by NNPC and Belema Oil in a joint venture with Jack-Rich Tein Foundation; NDE cosmetology training and distribution of cosmetology packs to 1000 women in Daura, 330KV /132KV power substation, Daura, among others.

The 1979 Constitution never gave the vice-president any defined schedule nor Decree No 24 of May 5, 1999 which we now know as the 1999 Constitution. The only responsibility the vice-president has is in the Third Schedule of the Constitution which makes him the Chairman of the National Economic Council. In that capacity, the council itself is to “advise the President”.

In all other bodies, the Constitution bestowed on him ordinary membership or in some cases vice chairman. He is not a member of the Nigeria Police Council, though he is the vice chairman of the Council of State, National Defence Council and National Security Council.  Section 130 of the Constitution states that there shall be for the federation, a President who shall be the head of state, chief executive of the federation and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation.

Vanguard News Nigeria


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