Sunday, June 4, 2017 6:12 pm
The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Legal Matters, Dr Bilkisu Saidu has dismissed recent comments credited to a faceless Social Media contributor using the name Ismaila Farouk from Zamfara State about appointments made by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, into some Federal agencies and the ones done in the office of the Vice President.
Dr Saidu, regarded as one of the foremost aides to the Acting President, spoke on “Shirin Safe’’, an interview programme on BBC Hausa Radio on Sunday. She was a law teacher from the Usmanu Dan Fodiyo University Sokoto before she was named an SSA in the Office of the Vice President last year.
She described the nepotism charges as simply laughable, untrue, unfair and should not be taken seriously.
According to her contrary to Mr Farouk’s conclusions, most senior positions on the Vice President’s office are held by Muslims including by individuals who are from the north.
Said she, “If you are talking about religion, the most senior official or position in the Office of the Vice President apart from the Vice President himself, is the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President and the name of the person occupying that office is Abdulrahman Ipaye and he is a Muslim.’’
“The positions following the Chief of Staff’s in the order of hierarchy are the Special Advisers in the office of the Vice President. Here there are three Special Advisers and two out of the three Special Advisers are Muslims, Senator Babafemi Ojudu and Barrister Mariam Uwais from Kano State,’’ she added.
Dr Saidu said that a cursory look at the other senior positions in the Vice President’s office indicate that religious consideration was never a factor in the appointment of the officers, noting that “If you look at the remaining senior positions in that office, most of them are in the hands of Muslims from the north.’’
She said: “For instance the person in charge of Protocol (i.e. the Director of Protocol) is Ambassador Abdullahi Gwary from Yobe State; those in charge of welfare and health in the office of the Vice President are mostly Muslims and from the north.
“Worthy of note are the stewards, those who serve the Vice President’s meals, they are mostly Muslims, so what do the critics mean when they talk about religion.’’
Dr Saidu concluded that when non-progressive minded people fail to win public support on their personal agenda they often resort to the use of religion given its sensitivity among Nigerians.
According to her, “when people lack what to use or have exhausted all avenues to speak evil against perceived opponents or ridicule the good works that they are doing, they resort to use of religion or other means possible to damage the image and reputation of that opponent.’’
The faceless Ismaila Farouk from Zamfara State recently criticized Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s recent outings and appointments made in his office describing them as sectional and not in the interest of the north.
Below is Dr. Farouk’s letter, circulating on social media:
Acting President Osinbajo Favoring Christians And Yorubas In His Appointments
By Dr Ismaila Farouk (from Zamfara)
Contrary to the widely held belief that Vice President Osinbajo, a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, a senior advocate of Nigeria, and a professor of law, is above board, a forensic analysis of his activities since he assumed office reveals that the VP has consistently abused his office, negating the principles of Federal Character and has systematically favoured members of the Redeemed Church and his Yoruba tribe.
A first pointer to what was to become a pattern of this incestuous scheme was the nomination and subsequent appointment of Pastor Okey Enelamah, who was his deputy and later successor at the RCCG, Banana Island, Lagos. Pastor Enelamah’s appointment came as a shock to Nigerians because apart from the fact that he was Pastor Osinbajo’s successor at the Redeemed Church, he neither worked for President Buhari’s victory nor believed in staking for the success of the Nigerian Project. Most importantly, Pastor Osinbajo had pushed for the appointment of Pastor Enelamah as minister of finance against his benefactor Bola Tinubu’s choice of Wale Edun.
While Nigerians were trying to come to terms with the shock of Pastor Enelamah’s nomination, VP Osinbajo took a step further in his nepotistic disposition in the setting up of his office and selection of personal staff. First, he chose his former colleague at the University of Lagos, Ade Ipaye, who was also his special adviser while he was attorney-general of Lagos, to serve as his chief of staff. Unsurprisingly, Ade Ipaye hails from Ogun State, the VPs state of origin. He went on to relocate Laolu Akande, an indigene of Ogun State who was hibernating in New York, to serve as his media adviser. For his chief economic adviser, he appointed Ambassador Dipeolu, also of Yoruba extraction. The VP didn’t stop there; of his 10 principal officers in his office, nine are from his Yoruba ethnic group! For a man who was elected to represent the interest of the entire country, this is embarrassingly tragic indeed. It is on record that, as vice president, Atiku Abubakar had a plethora of southerners in his office: Chris Mamah, Onukaba Adinoyi Ojo,Tokunbo Adeola, Dr Azuh Ndukwe, Phil Agbaso, Dr Isu, etc. He did not concentrate appointments in his native north-east.
While the VP was plotting as to how to corner power for his Yoruba brethren and RCCG members, he immediately at the onset of the administration instructed major agencies of government to patronize – his law firm SimmonsCoopers Partners. The firm had a field day in the Ministry of Justice, NNPC Group, DPR, Ministry of Works, and virtually all the parastatals in the Ministry of Trade and Investment. Curiously, the managing partner of SimmonsCooper, Tunde Irekera, was recently appointed the director-general of the Consumer Protection Council. It is instructive to note that Tunde Irekera was the immediate past DG of the CPCs trusted adviser, and his law firm SimmonsCooper Partners handled all the legal work in the agency. This, however, didn’t deter the VP from installing his stooge in the agency.
More curious is the fact that while Pastor Enelamah implemented a major shakeup in the agencies under his watch, he spared the grossly incompetent executive secretary of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Segun Awolowo, who is a brother-in-law to the VP.
In their quest to colonize the Ministry of Trade and Investment, the VP appointed another of his stooge, Yewande Sadiku, of Yoruba extraction as the executive secretary of Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, The strategy is to appoint her managing director of the Bank of Industry so she could build his war chest. Nigerians are watching.
In his quest to perpetuate his ilk in government, the VP has capitalised on the magnanimity of President Buhari’s implicit confidence in him to plant his Yoruba and RCCG brethren in key agencies of government.
In a calculated attempt to corner the country’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, the VP appointed his longstanding crony, Mr. Zeitlin, as the chairman of the board of National Sovereign Wealth Fund Investment Authority despite the fact that Mr. Zeitlin was indicted by a New Delhi court in India. Not done with having control of the Sovereign Wealth Fund, the VP, in clear contravention of the provisions of the Pension Reform Act 2014, orchestrated the illegal dissolution of the board of the National Pension Commission and appointed his crony, Funsho Doherty, as chairman and two RCCG brothers Benjamin Ovbiosu and Akinwale as commissioners, in a flagrant violation of the Federal Character Principle which stipulates each geopolitical zone must have only one nominee on the board.
Then, again, the VP went ahead to appoint his RCCG brother Mr. Okoh, a disgraced erstwhile banker, as DG of the Bureau of Public Enterprises. It is important to state that the VPs law firm had a retainership with the defunct New Nigeria Bank while Okoh was its managing director. Both men subsequently became business associates. The ostensible reason why Mr Okoh was sent to the BPE is to corner choice assets for the VP in the next round of privatization.
The list is endless: from INEC to NNPC, non-career ambassadors to the management of critical regulatory agencies, the VP has surreptitiously embedded his lackeys in positions of authority against all known norms of equity, fairness, justice and Federal Character. Clearly the VP does not believe in the unity of the Nigerian state, given his actions in the last 23 months. While he pretends not to have political aspirations, he has commenced covert campaigns for 2019 because he believes that President Buhari would not be in the position to contest at that time. It is public knowledge, for instance, that the VP has mandated a senior member of the RCCG leadership to mobilize and coordinate Christians in the northern part of the country with a view to driving his 2019 presidential bid. This is a sinister plot that is unknown to the VP’s benefactor and godfather Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who is banking on the VP to hand over to him in 2019, in the event of President Buhari not running for a myriad of reasons.
Indeed, in what can be viewed as a strategy for building a financial war chest, the VP has pushed forward his brother-in-law and trusted aide, Lanre Osibona, to front for him in shady business transactions with multinationals in oil and gas, power and construction sectors, among others. The said Mr Osibona, who was a stranded IT person in London, is reportedly now hosting champagne parties in Abuja and other exotic cities around the world. It was gathered the Mr Osibona, in his capacity as the aide overseeing the VPs schedule, has been exchanging appointment times with juicy contracts. A case in point is the major contract that General Electric gave to a company fronting for Mr Osibona and the VP simply because the former was able to facilitate a meeting for the power sector players.
Not satisfied with cornering deals in the power sector, the VP and his stooge, Mr Osibona, have in collaboration with the minister of state for petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, cornered all the juicy deals in the NNPC Group. They have also extended their inordinate greed to the Ministry of Niger Delta and the NDDC, where the VP has completely taken over the job of the minster. While Nigerians were hailing the VP for his shuttle diplomacy to the Niger Delta states a few months ago, they were oblivious of the fact that he was actually going there to further his nest and fortify his war chest for 2019.
Nigerians should also not be blind to the fact that the extant raging battle between the VP and President Buhari’s chief of staff is grounded on the fact that the VP always embarks on three-times-a-week trips to Lagos with over 40 aides on each of their trips at taxpayers’ expense and often fraudulent trips to Lagos using the presidential air fleet and claiming bogus estacode. An infuriated chief of staff had to explain this to President Buhari, hence the current power tussle in the villa.
Given the foregoing, the question Nigerians are asking is whether the self-professed pastor, professor and learned senior advocate is truly the saint he purports to be. The answer to this question can be situated in one of the VP’s sermons at RCCG. In the said sermon, he admonished the congregation to refrain from worshipping the god of Baal and that they should instead worship the Almighty God. In today’s parlance, the god of Baal symbolizes the god of money and power. It is also of silence in the face of injustice. VP Osinbajo should please practise what he preaches.