President Muhammadu Buhari has lamented what he observed as the ethnic colouration given to the ongoing reorganization in the presidency.
Recalled that 35 members of staff of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo were recently relieved of their appointments in a controversial circumstance.
But according to a statement issued in Abuja on Saturday by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), Buhari has explained that reorganization at the presidency is aimed at enhancing service delivery to Nigerians.
He was however not categorical when asked whether the 35 personnel were sacked.
The statement said the president was fielding questions from State House Correspondents at the Presidential Wing of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, shortly after his arrival from London on Friday night.
It noted that the President Buhari said it is unfortunate that the recent disengagement of some political appointees from the presidency had been given ‘‘ethnic and political’’ interpretations.
‘‘They said 35 people were sacked in the Vice President’s office. We just created some ministries and we reorganized and people are giving it ethnic and political dimensions. It is unfortunate,’’ the statement quoted Buhari as saying.
According to the statement, responding to a question on what next for his administration after a well-deserved rest in London, the President said: ‘‘We are going to work harder and be accountable. We have tried to make Nigerians understand why we do certain things. Accountability from bottom to top is absolutely necessary.
‘‘Whoever is responsible for government property, [should know] it is public property, it is not personal and he has to manage it according to the law.
‘‘That’s what I expect and I think that we have been around long enough to impress on people that we mean what we say.”
The presidency had all but confirmed the sacking of 35 Osinbajo’s aides, affirming that it was engaged in shedding exercise to save cost.
In the first official statement issued on the issue, Shehu had however said that there was no rift between President Muhammadu Buhari and the Vice President contrary to media reports.
He confirmed that there was an ongoing overhaul of the presidency which led to the non-renewal of certain political appointments.
It said the office of the Vice President had also been shed of such appointees.
The statement read: “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.
“As many 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 administration after getting a huge mandate to run the country for four more years.
“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 members 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.
“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 aides affected were:
Jibola Ajayi- SA, Legal
Lanre Osinbona- SSA, ICT
Imeh Okon- SSA, Infrastructure
Jide Awolowo- SA, Oil and Gas
Lilian Idiaghe- SA, Research, Legal and Compliance
Arukino Umukoro- SA, Niger Delta, Bala Liman Mohammed SSA Economy.
Edobor Iyamu SSA, Niger Delta
Dolapo Bright SSA, Agro Allied Value Chain
Toyosi Onaolapo SA, Community engagement
Gambo Manzo SA, Political
Bisi Ogungbemi SA, Political Matters
Edirin Akemu SSA, Industry, Trade & Investment
Akin Soetan STA, Economic matters
Aondaver Kuttuh Technical Assistant, Rule of Law
Ife Adebayo SA, Innovation
Yussuf Ali SA, Power regulations
Tola Asekun SSA, National boundary commission
Morakinyo Beckley SA, Off-grid power
Yosola Akinbi SSA, NEC
Tochi Nwachukwu SA, Power Privatisation
Bode Gbore SSA, Political
Abdulrahman Baffa Yola SA, Political
Kolade Sofola SA, Infrastructure
Ebi Awosika STA, Coimmunity Engagement
Muyiwa Abiodun SSA, Power
Forri Samson Banu SA, Entrepreneurship
Bege Bala SA, BPE
Feyishayo Aina SA, Community engagement
Halima Bawa SA, Community Engagement
Nkechi Chukwueke SA, Community engagement
Ilsa Essien SA, Media