the powers to function as Acting President were transferred to him on January 19, 2017, by  his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari, who proceeded on a 10-day vacation to London, United Kingdom, the same day. But for the10 working days he acted, he guarded and guided his own actions, creating an impression of a man without authority. This is the second phase of the series in the way Vice President Yemi Osinbajo ran Nigeria as Acting President in the absence of President Buhari. By  Levinus Nwabughiogu Just like the first week, his second week was also animated with meetings after meetings. Such has come to define the character of his office as no day passes by without one form of meeting or another. But for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, there was no basking in the euphoria of being an Acting President. There was also nothing so exciting about the new office especially when the powers are ephemeral and un-absolute. It was the same office, the same motorcade. The same living house, the same personnel and the same meetings with no real executive powers. If there was anything new at all, it would be the meetings that sprawled and tripled in their numbers and Osinbajo, the Professor, would never be tired chairing. When power does not translate to authority Yet, in the estimation of many persons, he may have failed in the real issues of governance within the period he acted, well, may be because he did not have authority. In truth, few Nigerians expected some executive promptings from the Acting President. For instance, situated within Nigeria’s socio-political and tribal context, especially in the absence of President Buhari, not many would have expected a categorical policy statement on the dripping economy. The same was also expected in the case of the Southern Kaduna killings. In the wake of the buzz trailing the health status of President Muhammadu Buhari, many Nigerians also expected the Acting President to speak, even hold a national broadcast, at least, to douse the tension arising from the politicisation of the President’s present state of health. Whereas the story is seen as FAKE NEWS at its worst, such an  open pronouncement would have laid the matter to rest when it was first raised. By that, Nigerians would have been introduced to the true picture of events rather than allow them feast and fester on a barrage of speculations and lies, which were very dangerous to the well-being of the president as well as cast aspersion on the collective dignity of Nigerians and the most exalted office in the land. Many had also expected the Acting President to name persons for Board appointments, promote someone or even sack someone as the case may be. But that was far from happening.   It should be understandable. One issue many Nigerians had also thought Acting President Osinbajo, a Professor of Law, former University lecturer and former Attorney-General of Lagos State, would have given bite, was the fate of the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onegheon, as the counting down to his exit begins, having been appointed in November to just act. By February 10, the Acting CJN would have exhausted his days in that capacity and would not, according to the constitution, be represented. A flurry of knocks have so far trailed the presidency for its loud silence on the matter. But then, Osinbajo still loves his job and, so, absolutely, has stayed away from it. VP Osinbajo An Acting President made for meetings But what did he do over the week? The Acting President, like just a Chairman of a company’s Board (without executive authority) superintended over a plethora of meetings. On Monday, January 30, he received the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubo Dogara, who accompanied Rochas Okorocho, the Imo State governor, to the Presidential Villa to see him. The Majority Leader of the Senate, Mr. Ahmed Lawan, also visited and later at nightfall, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State made an entry into the Acting President’s office. The governor was to later tell State House correspondents that he was in the Villa to declare his solidarity for Osinbajo – whatever that meant. Tuesday, January 31, was yet another day that featured the Senate President, Bukola Saraki visiting in the company of, again, the Speaker Dogara. The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun and her colleague in the Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma were also seen around. Later, Saraki told Journalists that they were briefed on the economy and the 2017 budget. The new angle he added to his tacit response was the planned road show by the economic team which was disclosed to them. He said: “We are meeting on the economy and the budget, myself, the Vice President and the Speaker, Minister of Budget and Minister of Finance. We are aware that the economic team will soon be going on a road show and just to brief us and let us know the issues and just carry us along. “We have just started the defence. So, there are no issues. These are just consultations.” Meanwhile, the embattled Secretary to Government of the Federation, SGF, Lawal Babachir, was seen coming out of Osinbajo’s office shortly after Saraki and Dogara left the Villa. His presence swiftly created the impression that the meeting featured more than what the Senate President said. It will be recalled that Babachir was indicted by the Senate over mismanagement of the funds meant for the welfare of the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in the North East and called for his sack.  Calls to sack him by many Nigerians who are of the view that his alleged mismanagement of IDPs’ funds runs contrary to President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption posture, had reached a crescendo but the President was yet to heed it. It was not readily ascertained if the meeting strayed to discuss soft landing for the embattled SGF anyway. Similarly, Wednesday, February 1, was another busy day although with a familiar ritual, the meeting of the Federal Executive Council, FEC. It was a long one for Osinbajo who swore in the five Commissioners of the National Population Commission, NPC, appointed some months ago by President Buhari. He also set up a Task Force Committee on Food Security and also caused the Council to approve the revision of the National Tax Policy to elevate VAT for consumption of luxury foods and drinks such as Champagne. Later that same Wednesday, he received the International Monetary Funds, IMF team on 2017 Article IV consultation who paid him a courtesy visit. On Thursday, February 2, National Defence College, NDC, Abuja, beckoned and Osinabjo, the Professor, went for what he knew best how to do – present a lecture. At NDC, he delivered a lecture titled “Economic Dimension of the National Security: The Nigerian Experience.” Minutes after he returned to the Presidential Villa from NDC, the Senate President, Saraki, Speaker, Dogara stormed the Villa again. For Saraki, it was his second visit in the week while it was the third for Dogara. Just when their frequent visit was about eliciting concerns amongst keen observers Saraki’s smart taciturnity paid off again. “The Acting President briefed us on our troops in The Gambia and what the situation is like; and that the Navy and the Air Force will be coming back very soon. And that it is likely some troops will be left behind”, he said. For a man who loathes idleness, his diary can never be free of schedules and so, on Friday, February 3, the Acting President held the inaugural meeting of the Task Force on Food Security. Curiously, the meeting held at Aguda House, his official residence, which is tucked in the secure enclave of the Presidential Villa. Meanwhile, trust the “Lagos Boy”, Osinbajo, had hardly entered office when by 2:30pm his motorcade was prepared for the airport to jet him out of Abuja for Lagos, signaling the end of work for him in the weekdays.

Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/02/powers-acting-president-neither-executive-absolute/

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