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Words between media aids, on sacking of aids, expose a rift in the presidency, critics say

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Yemi Osinbajo’s media aide, Laolu Akande, tweeted that “a list circulating in the media on so-called sacked presidential aides is not genuine and ought to be ignored.” Hours later, Buhari’s media aide, Garba Shehu, counter-tweeted that, “The Presidency wishes to confirm” that the list was genuine and that it was “not personal or targeted to undermine the Vice President’s office.” Yet they both insist that there’s “no rift” between Buhari and Osinbajo!
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The Nigerian presidency has confirmed that some top ranking aides in the office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo have been sacked as “an appropriate response to the general perception that the presidency has an over-sized and bloated workforce which acts as a drag on efficiency.”

In the last couple of days, reports that 35 of Osinbajo’s aides have been sacked, have dominated social and mainstream media chatter.

The names of the ‘sacked staff’ have also been splurged on a couple of online platforms. The reported purge was interpreted as one more example of the strained relationship between Osinbajo and President Muhammadu Buhari.

As the rumours made the rounds, Osinbajo’s spokesperson, Laolu Akande, took to his twitter page on the night of Thursday, November 7, to denounce the stories.

‘Reducing cost of governance’

However, in a statement made available to Pulse by Garba Shehu who is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, the presidency has confirmed that an ongoing overhaul in the nation’s seat of power meant some of the vice president’s staff had to take a walk.

“The Presidency wishes to confirm that there is on-going, an unprecedented overhaul of the nation’s seat of government, arising from which a number of political appointments have either been revoked or not renewed in the second term.

“The exercise, which has been ordered by the president, is to streamline decision-making, cut down multiple authorities and reduce the cost of administration.

“It is also an appropriate response to the general perception that the presidency has an oversized and bloated workforce which acts as a drag on efficiency.”

The presidency also said the purge wasn’t restricted to Osinbajo’s office; as a number of President Buhari’s aides never made it back to the villa after the expiration of his first term.

“As may have been noticed by discerning members of the public, a number of political appointees among the few that served in the office of the president were not returned for the second term.

“The office of the Vice President, His Excellency Yemi Osinbajo has, in compliance with the directive of the president, equally been shed of a number of such appointees.

“In carrying out these exercises, the overriding objective is to save taxpayer money and deliver needed service to the public. As far as the president is concerned, there is no scope for an excuse for the administration after getting a huge mandate to run the country for four more years.”

Reports of a fight denied

For the umpteenth time, the presidency also denied unending reports of a rift between Osinbajo and Buhari.

“In the light of this, the presidency wishes to strongly deny rumours of a rift between President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. The relationship between the two leaders remains excellent and trusting. Together, they will script a glorious future for the nation.

“The media reports of a soured relationship are originating from the minds and mouths of mischief makers, who are desperate for entertaining stories from the Aso Rock Villa with which to titillate the public. This ulterior motive is the basis of the wrong interpretation given to the recent exercise in the presidency.

“There has been a streamlining of staff going on for a while. The president has always had fewer staff than the vice president, and there were always plans to reduce the number of staff at the villa.The streamlining was not personal or targeted to undermine the vice president’s office, as the so-called insider sources quoted by the media appear to make it seem.”

Whispers of a cabal that has seized Buhari’s government have persisted since his first term, helped by First Lady Aisha Buhari of course.

But the presidency says Buhari, who was elected for a second term in office in February 2019, retains absolute control of his administration.

“The President is in absolute control of his government. The media should stop attributing non-existent powers to some people. There cannot be anyone too powerful for President Buhari to control,” the statement concluded.

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