Editor's note: Ochereome Nnanna elaborates on the prolonged power struggle between Yemi Osinbajo, the vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the "number two vice president", Nasir El-Rufai.
It is complicated
All is not well between Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state, widely referred to as the “unofficial vice president”. After the National Economic Council meeting held on September 17, 2015, El-Rufai showed up in the Osinbajo’s office, they took a photograph, all smiles, and splashed it all over the internet to debunk the rumours that they had exchanged insults. To confirm the story, a meeting of the APC National Working Committee a couple of days ago tabled the “face-off” between Osinbajo and El-Rufai as an item for discussion/resolution.
A power broker
El-Rufai has been throwing his weight around since Buhari was elected President of Nigeria. He is widely reputed to have been behind the double shuffle we saw on the last day of Professor Attahiru Jega as the INEC chairman. Barely six hours after Alhaji Ahmad Wali supersedes Jega as the acting national chairman, a letter from President Buhari ordered Wali to hand over to Hajiya Amina Zakari. This violation of the law subsists till today, when Zakari is preparing to conduct the Bayelsa and Kogi states governorship elections. Fingers pointed to El-Rufai for carrying out the “coup” compromising the independence of the INEC and the integrity of our future elections.
El-Rufai is also believed to be the brain behind the appointment of Mallam Abba Kyari as the chief of staff to the president. He also reportedly provided the founder of the #Bring Back Our Girls campaign (one of the outfits used to hound the former president Goodluck Jonathan out of power), Hadiza Bala Usman, with a seat on the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption. There is hardly any trip Buhari considers important that El-Rufai will not accompany him to, and there is virtually no important meeting that El-Rufai wil not attend as a close confidant and adviser to the president. El-Rufai is having a time of his life as the younger Northern brain that Buhari draws from to rule Nigeria.
A long way to power
This is not the first time he is enjoying such run of power in Aso Villa. Remember his days with the former president Olusegun Obasanjo? He came into the Obasanjo government through the good graces of the former vice president Atiku Abubakar, who made him the director general of the Bureau of Public Enterprises. But when the power struggle between Obasanjo and Atiku turned nasty and no-holds-barred, El-Rufai nipped over to Obasanjo. His influence grew rapidly, and the pioneer EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, once described him as the "de facto number two official” during the Obasanjo presidency.
In turn, El-Rufai disclosed that Ribadu would be appointed minister of power when Obasanjo’s handpicked successor, Umaru Yar’ Adua, won the presidential election in 2007. Incidentally, when Yar’ Adua assumed office, El-Rufai fled to Boston/Baltimore in America, while Ribadu went into self-exile in the UK. They both returned under our dovish former president Jonathan. But while Ribadu found his place in that adminitration, El-Rufai, after being ignored by Jonathan for “too long”, joined the Arewa army for the return of power to the North by all means. El-Rufai became a Buhari's foot soldier, when the latter broke his resolve not to run for presidency again, and started the journey with Bola Tinubu towards the birth of the now ruling APC.
You may read the article on its entirety on Vanguard.
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