By; TANKO YUSUF
More than half of the Presidential aides reportedly sacked in the VP Wing of the Buhari Presidency are donor funded including donors from well known international development agencies from the US and the UK, investigations have revealed.
The attempted sack which contravened presidential directive and is being pushed by a senior official in the President’s office is now reportedly facing scrutiny.
This is raising fresh suspicions regarding the actual motivation behind the disengagement of the aides after it was officially reported that the aides were removed to cut down on government’s expenses.
Several government sources over the weekend disclosed in a series of interactions on the ongoing crisis in the Presidency that “what is happening in the villa is an attempt by the President’s Chief of Staff to grab power and tussle with the VP who is seen as a trusted and reliable supporter of the President and whose influence is causing the cabal around the president sleepless nights especially because of his rising profile ahead of 2023.”
Besides, the claim that VP’s office is too large, with the number of aides put at over 80 in some reports, has also been debunked by officials of some of the donor agencies. The argument according to some of those sources is that the quantum and weight of the programmes being implemented in the office demands quite an even larger staff strength if that were possible.
One of the sources put it this way: “Take the Social Investment Programmes for instance, the budget is N500 billion naira, covering NPower job Programmes with half a million graduates involved; Homegrown School Feeding with about 10 million pupils in 33 States, and others. What kind of staff strength do you need to run such Programmes with half a trillion Naira budget?“
Another official said “ for context, just compare the budget of a State govt, say Kano, a very big State which budgeted N246B last year. Kano has 151,000 staff strength with a budget that is less than half of the SIP’s N500B. Pls add after Kano that Oyo which has a budget of about N267B last year also retains a staff strength of 35,700. So how many people are there in the entire office of the Vice President where all the SIPs are being implemented? The real reason the cabal is going after the staff in the VP’S office is anything but reasonable by any stretch of the imagination.”
The source added that there are other functions the VP performs statutorily and constitutionally like the National Economic Council, NEC, that composes all State governors and the Central Bank Governor, the only constitutional venue where States and the Federal Government interact on a whole lot of issues. Queried the source “What about supervising the Niger Delta Power Holding Company, with at least 10 power plants across the country?”
In addition the source explained that it is also the VP’S office through the National Council on Privatization and the BPE, that supervises FG’s interests and shares in all the Discos in the country. Besides, there are several other agencies like NEMA, DMO, NIPSS, Border Communities agency, Boundary Commission and several others that are under the VP’S office that require effective supervision.
Continuing, the source said the few people in the VP’S office doing the SIPS and other reform Programmes like PEBEC have actually been attracting continental and global recognitions for the Buhari presidency including from the World Bank, AfDB and many local awards. The source went further, that “Granted, these two programs had matured after successful incubation by the Office of the Vice President, the only fair thing to do on moving the core team to the Ministry structure was not to change a winning team but you deploy the complement of their support staff to relevant ministries which is what the President directed”.
Informed sources explained that while the aides were all approved by the President in August this year, he had also approved the number of those who will work in the Presidential Villa as different from those deployed to work in other ministries outside the villa. That team of Vice President’s aides remain in place and there is no contention about their status despite several failed attempts by the power grabbers to withdraw their privilege, our source said.
Another informed government source noted that “ there is the talk of some reorganization in the Presidency, for instance all presidential staff working on the Special Investment Programmes were transferred to the new ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management & Social Development. But at the same time, there are also other presidential aides who were moved to various ministries from the OVP on the approval of the President very recently. It was not about disengagement.”
The innate lack of human sympathy to even accommodate such team that laboured hard for the government, both during the program incubation or the elections, while some people went into the shadows and are now trying to sack them against presidential directives is difficult to fathom. “How a President that resisted reducing federal workforce during a recession, will approve enabling the loss of livelihood for over thirty families who worked and sacrificed for his election is hard to square”, said another affected aide who spoke to us.
The source continued “It was therefore intriguing that the same set of presidential aides so transferred in September after their appointments were approved by the President are now to be disengaged altogether without any kind of wrongdoings on their part.” The likely impact on their careers notwithstanding.
It is believed in govt circles last night that the Chief of Staff Abba Kyari has his own agenda working with the Secretary to the Government who reports said he had piled pressure on to write disengagement letters for all the presidential aides the President had approved to relocate outside the villa to ministries relevant to their portfolios. It was said that blackmail on certain matters to the SGF office is being used even when the office of the later is constitutionally guaranteed, and the Chief of Staff is an unknown office in the constitution.
One of the sources explained that this rash action and pressure on the SGF office was done so as to Forestall a reversal which the President was expected to do later in the month when back in Abuja. Indeed, other plans are said to be cooking to justify the rash action when the President returns including false analysis. “This explains why some of the names of the aides were leaked and then Kyari asked one of the Presidential spokespersons to issue a statement on Friday confirming the sacking of aides in VP offices who were meant only to be relocated outside the villa.”
Tanko Yusuf is a Senior Investigative Reporter based in Yola can be reached via email@example.com
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