President Muhammadu Buhari and his Chief of Staff (CoS), Mallam Abba Kyari’s absence in the Presidential Villa this week created a vacuum with lull in the activities in the seat of power.
The President and his CoS had last Friday afternoon traveled to London, United Kingdom, to attend the UK/Africa Investment Summit to return this Thursday (today). The absence of the two men caused the dearth of newsmakers in the Villa.
The two powerful men are obviously the most sought after by political players including governors, top personalities and businessmen. So, anytime either of them is not around, human traffic to the Villa dwindles.
Human traffic, especially of visitors coming for official engagements at the Presidential wing, was limited in the last four days. The palpable serenity of the seat of power became noticeable. Beginning from the Pilot Gate, regular visitors to the Villa were confronted with a quietude suggesting an unusual calm in corridor of power.
Those security men at the Pilot Gate who are hitherto stretched with the responsibility of having to clear visitors were relaxed as very few VIPs approached them for clearance. The volume of vehicles waiting to be allowed into the Villa also reduced when compared to the previous week when the men of power were on seat.
What became immediately noticeable on gaining access to the entrance foyer of the Presidential Villa was that the usually busy car park were near empty. The ever busy corridor leading to the office of the Chief, as Kyari is mostly called, looked deserted. Ditto that leading to the office of the Commander in Chief.
Even when the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) became victorious at the Supreme Court with the declaration of Hope Uzodinma as the winner of Imo guber and the affirmation of Governor Abdullai Ganduje of Kano’s election, the elated party officials and victorious governors did not come to the Villa probably because the President was not around.
For journalists who bordered to come to work, the period of the absence of the duo presented the avenue for idle talks and arguments especially on the propriety or otherwise of the Supreme Court’s decision on petitions challenging the elections of governors of Bauchi, Benue, Imo, Sokoto and others. The nullification of the election of Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha of Imo state drew enough emotions.
Newsmen also whiled away time with the controversy surrounding the legality or otherwise of the establishment of ‘Operation Amotekun’ by the governors of the South-western states.
The scheduled meeting between the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday with the governors of the South-west on the Operation Amotekun controversy re-sparked activities in the Villa as all newsmen who hitherto shun the seat of power rushed in to witness the outcome of the epoch making engagement. The Vice President was to represent his boss at the meeting. But the meeting was eventually postponed!
With the arrival of the President and his CoS today, activities are expected to pick. National Chairman of the ruling party (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, whose party has been fortunate to have secured judicial victory in Imo state, is expected to officially present the new governor, Uzomdinma, to the President.
Activities move to London
Nigeria’s lull is London’s boom! At the UK/Africa Investment Summit, the President was able to persuade the Prime Minister of that country, Boris Johnson, on the need for the National Crime Agency to cooperate with his government in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
According to a statement made available by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, “On the anti-corruption war, the President said though it was slow but painstaking, the cooperation of the National Crime Agency of UK was still needed, particularly in the investigation of fugitives from Nigeria finding accommodation in the United Kingdom.”
The President also requested the United Kingdom for assistance in the fight against terrorism especially in the North-east just as he intimated the British leader on the challenge of climate change in the country especially with the recession of Lake Chad with its attendant environmental crises.
As for the take home from London, the British Prime Minister promised to cooperate with Nigeria and other African countries in the inter-basin water transfer, which could solve the Lake Chad problem, and enhance security in the sub-region.
Johnson also endorsed the Commonwealth Free Trade Area proposed by Buhari following the imminent exit of Britain from the European Union (EU). This move is strategic and helpful in the Nation’s industrialization and diversification efforts.
The President also used the opportunity to clarify insinuations at an international forum on the rationale for the partial closure of the nation’s borders. Buhari told the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Ado, who had pleaded with him to reopen the borders in the interest of Nigerian neighbours’ economy pointedly that doing so may jeopardize the internal security of the country.
“When most of the vehicles carrying rice and other food products through our land borders are intercepted, you find cheap hard drugs, and small arms, under the food products. This has terrible consequences for any country,” the President said.
Not all lull with Osinbajo
Though the office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo started on a lower note in the week, the engagement of the South-west Governors, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation yesterday over the controversial launch of regional security outfit codenamed ‘Operation Amotekun’ changed the tempo.
The controversy surrounding the establishment of the outfit was so heated as Abubakar Malami, the AGF, has consistently maintained that the security outfit was illegal while the governors and stakeholders from the South-west insisted that there was no going back.
The intervention of the Vice President who mediated between the two extremes at the instance of his boss helped resolve the impasse which threatened to assume constitutional dimension.