The Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Political Affairs, Mr. Babafemi Ojodu, has rubbished the comparison between his boss who is on an extended medical vacation in the United Kingdom (UK) and the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
Ojodu while speaking in a brief interview with the State House correspondents in Abuja said that the comparison is baseless since Osinbajo is simply implementing the programmes and policies of the President.
He noted that the actions which were taken by the Vice President who has been in acting capacity to address some security challenges that have so far restored relative peace in the Niger Delta is being done at the behest of Buhari.
How do you react to trend comparing the President and the VP?
I think it is thoughtless. I also see it as a ploy by the opposition to cause an unnecessary division. It is joint ticket, the president and the vice president were elected based on the manifesto of the party and since they were sworn-in they have been committed to implementing that manifesto. The same people who said we never had economic team, no policy, nothing are the ones saying this. It is now the policies we are implementing are maturing and they are seeing the result, is not a question of one person being better than the other person.
I will give you an example; there is nothing that has been done since the vice president started acting that is not something that started far back in the past. A good example is the Niger Delta initiative. The President called the Vice President and said I am giving you the mandate, go into the Niger Delta meet with everyone who is a stakeholder, all the communities, talk to the militants and make sure you solve this problem for the benefits of Nigerians. We are losing 1.2 million barrels of oil per day; all the gas pipelines powering the turbines are being blown up. And the President has said unless and until we resolve this problem we will not get out of recession. The VP took up the mandate and went to the Niger Delta, it is the initiative of Mr. President not that of Vice President.
This is mischief makers, those who do not wish this country well, who are always promoting crisis, who will not allow the people to benefit from this democracy are the ones promoting this kind of divisive tendencies.
Are you saying the Acting President has been consulting the President?
Almost on a daily basis, yes. Well, there are things he still needs to consult the President, I mean is not a regular thing but major decisions he still has to consult Mr. President. The president is still the president.
One will think he is not in charge?
He is in charge but like I said earlier on, this is a joint ticket the president of Nigeria remains the president of Nigeria. He is acting because is one and the same. He is more experienced, he has been in the game longer than the vice president and if there are major issues that he needs to take decision on, he could call on him and say Sir, what do you think about this we are about to take decision on it, do you have opinion that does not mean he is not in charge.
But Nigerians are reacting this way because of the timing of the changes taking place, when the president is on an extended vacation in the UK?
Again, one other thing you have to see is that if you give someone a responsibility, he must be able to show to Mr. President that despite that he is not being around is not going to create any vacuum. He can then decide not to sleep at all; all through the time the president is a way just to show him that he is capable of ensuring that Nigeria goes on well while he is away. And the President could also have given the mandate let nothing go wrong, I believe in you, I appointed you as my Vice President you must eke sure that you do this. If you have a boss who gives you an assignment you will want to impress him and Nigerians as well and that for me is what has happened. Is not that one person is better than the other, certainly not.
Are you labeling some concerned Nigerians the tag of opposition?
I am telling you that I have seen some things sent out intentionally to cause some kind of division within the presidency. Some people who have been condemning everybody in the past, I see them on twitter and on Facebook and generally on social media. Some people are trying to promote division and we are not going to allow that. This president and vice president worked together in tandem and I know they both have confidence in this nation.
How do you react to some clerics in Katsina propagating information on the president being poisoned?
The way I will react to that is that those of you in the media should be careful what you pick from the social media now, it is becoming factory for fake news in the Nigeria. A lot of things you see on social media can never be true. I saw that, I read it and I assessed it using the prism of these factors, those indices we use to analysis stories in the media and found out that, that it cannot be true. For example they said somebody kept N77 trillion somewhere, imagine that. What is the total value of Nigeria’s economy that because of somebody keeping N77 trillion therefore some people want to poison him so that they can inherit the money? I mean we have a president that nobody in this country can question his integrity. As a young officer, a middle officer, a senior officer and as a head of state till now, nobody has been able to tarnish his image or come up with anything. For me is not even worth responding to, as soon as I read it I dismissed it, it is so ridiculous. Again it is the handiwork of our enemies, the problem is fakeness has almost become global and universal, other countries are experiencing it. Those who want to distabilise the country they come up with all kinds of stupid stories, some kind of unimaginable stories so we should just discountenance those things.