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Tag Archives: Yemi Osinbajo

Osinbajo queries IGP over arrest of journalists

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has queried Idris Ibrahim, the inspector-general of police, over the arrest and detention of the Elombah brothers who are journalists with

The two brothers — Daniel and Timothy, publisher and editor respectively — along with six other men were arrested at their Anambra residence on January 1, 2018 reportedly on the orders of Ibrahim.

Tim, who was paraded in handcuffs, was detained for 25 days for allegedly publishing an unfavourable article against Ibrahim.

Festus Keyamo, a senior advocate of Nigeria, wrote a petition to Osinbajo over the arrest.

In a response to Keyamo dated January 30, 2018, Ade Ipaye, deputy chief of staff to Osinbajo, said the IGP has been directed to respond to the petition.

Ipaye wrote: “I am directed by His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to acknowledge receipt of your petition against the Inspector-General of Police in respect of the Elombah Brothers.

“His Excellency has asked the Inspector-General of Police to submit his response to the petition, following which any necessary action will be taken. You may also wish to ensure that this Office is appraised of any updates on the matter.

“Please be assured of His Excellency’s highest consideration and best wishes.”

State police is the way to go, says Osinbajo

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has endorsed the creation of state police, saying it would help tighten security situation across the country.

Osinbajo said this at a security summit organised by the senate.

He said state policing system is the way to go because having a centralised system cannot effectively secure the nation.

“For a country our size, to meet the one policeman to 400 persons according to the UN prescribed ratio, we would require almost triple the number of our current police force. Far more funding for the military and security agencies is required,” he said.

“We cannot police a country the size of Nigeria centrally from Abuja. State police and other community policing methods are clearly the way to go.

“The nature of our security challenges are complex. Securing Nigeria’s over 900sq/km and its 180 million people requires far more men and materials than we have at the moment. It also requires a continual re-engineering of our security architecture and strategies. This has to be a dynamic process.”

The vice-president also said that no land would be forcibly taken to create ranches.

He said 13 states had agreed to provide about 5,000 hectares of land for the creation of these ranches.

“Let me reiterate that on no account will any land be seized or forcefully taken to create ranches or grazing areas. All insinuations to that effect should be disregarded,” he said.

“Instead, it is in our view that states that are willing should cooperate even with willing investors into commercially viable government supported ranches or livestock production centers for commercial use.”

He said there would be adequate consultation with all stakeholders to ensure that the solutions to clashes between herdsmen and farmers would benefit everyone.

Osinbajo’s endorsement of state police comes less than one week after former military President Ibrahim Babangida said the time had come for the decentralisation of the police force.

State police is also among the recommendations of the restructuring committee of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Buhari isn’t thinking of a second term for now – Osinbajo

Despite clear indications that President Muhammadu Buhari wants to seek another term, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo says Buhari’s focus at the moment is one term.

A campaign office of the president has been opened in Ibadan, Oyo state capital, while individuals and groups who have endorsed Buhari’s reelection have been increasing by the day.

On Wednesday, Adebayo Shittu, minister of communications, brought along with him caps of Buhari’s 2019 campaign.

But in an interview with CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Osinbajo said Buhari is entirely focused on this term.

The nation’s number two citizen added that the president has been working on delivering his campaign promises.

“The president has said that he is entirely focused on this term. He wants to ensure that he’s able to deliver on as many of the promises that have been made,” he said.

“So he’s actually completely focused. In our government, we’re not talking about 2019. We are focused at this point on ensuring that we deliver on our promises. We have a four-year term for now and that’s what we’re focused on and that’s what the president is also focused on.”

Osinbajo also spoke about topical issues ranging from the economy to policies of the current administration.

Below is the interview:

CNBC: The good thing for Nigeria is that you have been listed in the top ten countries of ease of doing business. What difference does that make coming to this conference here in Davos?

Osinbajo: Well I think the major thing is that we have some acknowledgement from the world especially the World Bank that Nigeria is a place that’s open for business and as you said, we were listed in the top ten reforming countries in the ease of doing business so this very good for us and a lot of investors are looking our way on account of the fact that they see positive development in terms of creating a better environment for business. We’ve also recently released our incentive regime a publication which details all of the available incentives across sectors of the economy. It’s a bullish period in terms of attracting business and we are excited.

Speaking about sectors of the economy I know that one of Nigeria’s great dreams is to start growing its own food again after years of importing with oil money. How is that going?

That’s going very well indeed. What we’ve found for example just to take rice as an example: between rice and wheat we were importing almost $3 billion worth of that particular produce but today we are possibly one of the largest growers of paddy rice. Milling is a bit of a problem but we will be self-sufficient in rice production we hope by early 2019. At the moment we are doing exceedingly well. Imports of rice have gone down by as much as 80 per cent and that is one of the major food imports that we have. We are also looking at other areas such as sorghum, millet and all of those areas where there is also a great deal of activity and a great deal of agricultural growth. At the same time agriculture also means more jobs, so many more jobs are being created in the agricultural areas.

CNBC: In these times as well, you’re seeing great buoyancy in the stock market and you’re foreign reserves have also been increasing. How’s that going?

Excellent. Foreign reserves are at $40 billion which is the highest in about 4 or 5 years and we’re also seeing a great deal of progress with respect to investment but this is going very well indeed. We are quite happy with the capital market. It’s been listed as possibly the best performing capital market in the world. We hope to be able to sustain that bullishness in the capital market.

Infrastructure is also a big story as well, particularly in the power front. Are you going to use some of these foreign reserves to help build up Nigeria’s infrastructure? What spending are you planning?

For infrastructure we are doing quite a bit. First with respect to power we are now doing something in the order of between 7000MW and 9000MW. Now, we expect that with improvements in transmission and distribution that will be able to make an impact. At the moment the impact isn’t as wide or as deep as we want it to be. We want the power sector and the consumer to feel that impact and that has a lot to do with the investments in transmission and distribution which we are doing. We want to get to the last mile, to the consumer.

With respect to rail, we’re doing a lot of work in rail. We’re doing the Lagos Kano rail with the new standard gauge. That has already started with the Lagos – Ibadan end of it. We’re investing close to $10 billion, we’re getting some funding from the Chinese with counter part funding from Nigeria. We have already provided counterpart funding and they are providing their own part of that resource. We are also doing the Lagos – Calabar train route which we expect will open up the whole of the Delta are, going up to the South East and the South South regions.

That’s also something we’re doing in the area of infrastructure. Roads are big for us. We’re working very hard on railway and of course power.

CNBC: How much do you plan to increase the investment in places like Lagos which is highly congested as we know?

Well the Lagos State government – as you know we are a federal state, has its own plans. I know they are interested in doing a fourth mainland bridge. I haven’t heard of any new developments in terms of a metro infrastructure at this time but I know that they’re trying to open up new roads especially a fourth mainland bridge which will be a major road route around the city, going into the outlying areas of the city to greater Lagos. I think that that will happen but one of things we’re doing is that in the standard gauge rail we’ll be going through portions of Lagos all down the South West from the port areas.

This is really important especially from the point of view of movement of petroleum products and goods from the port area because the railway actually starts from the Apapa port and then goes out to the outlying areas all through the South West and then up North. That will improve general transport logistics.

And what about social investment spending for the people on the ground in Nigeria?

Since 2016 we’re probably investing in the most ambitious social investment project that the country has ever seen. We’re putting N500 billion in the budget, we did it in the last budget, we’re hoping that we’ll be able to engage 500,000 unemployed graduates. We’ll be able to give micro credit loans, conditional cash transfers also to the poorest of the poor.

So our social investment scheme is really very important. Philosophically for us it’s also a question of not just talking about macro-economic policy. We are concerned about social policy.

Social policy is crucial because we think that in order to achieve the inclusive growth we’ve been talking about we must find a way of accounting for the vast majority of our people who still are in one form of deprivation or the other and that’s why this social investment scheme is extremely important and we hope that we’ll be able to improve on the numbers in terms of the social investment itself and also to see incremental improvements in those who are coming out of poverty.

Last but not least, there’s an election coming up in Nigeria. I understand from my sources that the present President Buhari is going to stand again as president. How do you think the election year is going to play out?

The president has said that he is entirely focused on this term. He wants to ensure that he’s able to deliver on as many of the promises that have been made. So, he’s actually completely focused. In our government we’re not talking about 2019. We are focused at this point on ensuring that we deliver on our promises. We have a four year term for now and that’s what we’re focused on and that’s what the president is also focused on.

Osinbajo, nine governors constitute committee to end herdsmen killings

The national economic council (NEC) headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has constituted a 10-man working committee to address killings by herdsmen.

The committee headed by Osinbajo has governors of Kaduna, Zamfara, Taraba, Benue, Adamawa, Edo, Plateau, Oyo, and Ebonyi as members.

Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano state, disclosed this to state house correspondents at the end of the 84th NEC meeting which lasted four hours.

Ganduje said the committee would collaborate with the federal government to address impunity regarding killings and violence.

According to him, the committee would work to ensure that all the perpetrators of violence were brought to book.

The council also approved the resolution of the 59th national council on health that between 1 percent and five percent of the monthly allocation to states be earmarked for financing the implementation of the HIV/AIDS sustainability roadmap.

According to Dave Umahi, his Ebonyi state governor, this followed a presentation by Isaac Adewole, minister of health.

According to him, they sought council’s interest of public sector funding for HIV/AIDS services in Nigeria in order to achieve the goal of eliminating  HIV/AIDS by the year 2030.

According to him, “The increase will reduce depend upon on donor funding for  HIV/AIDS services and the attendant development implication.

“They also called for HIV treatment that will lead to increased life expectancy in the country and the proportion increase in GDP,” he said.

“They added that the need to invest in HIV/AIDS is imperative because donor funding is in the decline due to the global economic circumstances. Reducing the gap between those who require HIV/AIDS care and treatment and those who actually are able to access it, is another reason to investment HIV/AIDS.

“They ask council to approve the resolution of the 59th National Council on Health that at least between .5% to 1% of the monthly allocation to states be earmarked for financing the implementation of the HIV/AIDS sustainability roadmap.”

Ganduje said Kemi Adeosun, minister of finance, briefed council that as of January 15, 2018, the excess crude account stood at $2,317 billion, stabilisation account: N9,730 billion, while natural resources development fund stood at NN115,108 billion.

The council was also told that so far, budget support loan facility disbursed to 11 states that met the requirements stood at N700 million and that the states that are having outstanding payments were required to meet and complete the necessary obligations before benefiting from the scheme.

Benue Killings: Osinbajo replies Ortom

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said on Monday that he received no letter from Governor Samuel Ortom warning him of imminent attacks by herdsmen on Benue communities.

Mr. Osinbajo said he was “shocked” to read in the media that he was put on the notice that herdsmen were plotting to strike across the state but did nothing.

“It will be a terrible falsehood to suggest that the VP was ever informed by the Governor or anyone else of the imminence of the killing of citizens of our country in those or any other local governments in Benue State,” presidential spokesperson Laolu Akande said in a Monday afternoon statement.

Mr. Ortom had reportedly told the Senate committee investigating the recent killings in Benue that he warned Mr. Osinbajo in his capacity as acting president while President Muhammadu Buhari was away on medical leave last year.

“We wrote to the Vice President on the planned attack on parts of Benue by Fulani herdsmen, because the word was everywhere on the street, but he refused to reply,” the Guardian quoted Mr. Ortom as saying in his submission to the Senate panel, led by its majority leader Ahmed Lawan.

“When there was no response, and upon the return of Mr. President, I personally went and intimated him, and also wrote. The documents are here, I will hand them over to you. I wrote to him on the planned attack by Fulani herdsmen because these threats were on the streets,” Mr. Ortom added according to The Guardian.

But Mr. Osinbajo strongly denied the allegations, saying he received a letter of complaints about public utterances of some herdsmen; but not about specific budding attacks.

“Governor Ortom wrote to the Vice President, then Acting President, on 7th June 2017 protesting a newspaper publication where the leadership of Miyetti Allah was reported to have stated that it was opposed to the Open Grazing Prohibition law of the State and that they would mobilise to resist the law.

The Miyetti Allah had written to the vice president on June 5, 2017 on the same law protesting several sections of the law. The governor went on to say that the leadership of Miyetti Allah should be arrested because they used words such as “wicked, obnoxious and repressive,” to describe the law, and because these were “utterances that are capable of undermining the peace…”

“The Vice President subsequently met with the Governor, discussed the matter and the security situation in the State and then ordered law enforcement agencies to be on the alert to prevent any attacks or violence. This was in June 2017!

“In the said letter written by the Governor, there was no mention of any threat to any specific one of the 23 local governments of Benue State, so the best the law enforcement agencies could do even then was to await information or intelligence of an imminent attack. None came.

“Since then the VP has held several meetings with the Benue State Governor, including a visit to the State on the 6th of September, last year at the behest of Mr. President during the tragic floods in the state last year. At all such meetings, the Vice President discussed the security situation of the State with the Governor.

“Following that, the then Acting President convened a major national security retreat which was attended by all State Governors, service chiefs and heads of security agencies. The Retreat featured very detailed discussions on the herdsmen/ farmers’ clashes.

“To the best of our knowledge, neither Governor Ortom nor the Federal Government was aware of the imminence of the cowardly attack on Logo and Guma on the 1st of January, and therefore any suggestion that the President or the Vice President ignored the State Governor’s warning is both absolutely false and certainly misleading,” Mr. Osinbajo said.

Still, the vice president said he still doesn’t believe that Mr. Ortom made the remarks credited to him.

Terver Akase, a spokesperson for Mr. Ortom, tried to walk back the comments of his principal in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES Monday afternoon.

“We didn’t warn the vice-president,” Mr. Akase said. “We only copied him in a letter to security agencies.”

“Some Fulani herdsmen were threatening Benue State. As the chief security officer of the state, he wrote to the police inspector-general and the National Security Adviser then copied the acting-president in the letter at the time,” Mr. Akase added.

Over 50 residents were killed when suspected herdsmen invaded villages in Logo and Guma Local Government Areas in Benue State on New Year’s Day.

The attackers also ambushed a police patrol team and killed three officers on January 8.

The state government conducted a mass burial for the victims in a village near the Air Force Base in Makurdi, the state capital, on January 12.

As part of his administration’s response to the incidents, President Muhammadu Buhari on January 9 ordered the immediate relocation of Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris to Benue.

Mr. Idris, who arrived the state on January 11, said he had deployed over 660 police officers in more than 10 units across the state, promising to deploy additional officers to five more units in the coming days.

Osinbajo in UAE for holidays

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is currently in the United Arab Emirates where he is taking a break.

According to his spokesperson, Laolu Akande, in a tweet Wednesday, Mr. Osinbajo left the country alongside his wife and children.

“VP Osinbajo, his wife & children have been resting abroad on his annual leave. He is expected back in the country this weekend from the UAE,” Mr. Akande said.

This is probably the first time since the coming of the Buhari Administration that Mr. Osinbajo is enjoying his annual leave.

He has been a very busy official as well as acting president when Mr. Buhari spent the better part of 2017 on medical vacation in London, UK.

It is a common joke at the Presidential Villa whenever the vice president was chairing any meeting, especially, the Federal Executive Council, FEC, that “people will be here all day.”

Osinbajo: It’s a shame that Nigerians are celebrating Christmas in discomfort


Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo says it is a shame that Nigerians are celebrating Christmas in discomfort.

Laolu Akande, spokesman of the vice-president, quoted Osinbajo as saying this when he visited two filling stations in Lagos.

During surprise visits to Oando filling station in Lekki and Heyden Petrol station, Victoria Island, Osinbajo said the situation is “deeply regretted” and expressed optimism that the new year would be better.

The vice-president said the federal government is moving as quickly as it could to solve the fuel crisis and reduce the difficulties Nigerians were facing as a result of the scarcity.

“It’s such a shame that Christmas has been, to some extent, with this sort of discomfort,” Osinbajo reportedly said.

“This is deeply regretted, and l know that, despite the resilience and strength of people in Lagos and the Nigerian people, we would see ourselves through this and will enjoy our Christmas and have a great new year.

“We are trying to move as quickly as we can. Obviously, people have gone through a lot of pain and anguish in the past few days, and that is deeply regretted.

“We are trying to do what we can to move as quickly as possible and there is certainly enough products to be able to solve the problem.

“We will be able to solve the problem; the short period of scarcity is quite a bit of burden, but we know that so long as products are enough and the trucks coming out and feeding the stations, this will be over very soon.

“I am going around with the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources here in Lagos to ensure that first, the trucks are being loaded from all the depots, and also looking at the filling stations to see that things are moving on very well.

“The GMD of the NNPC is also working in Abuja to see that things are moving quickly and we are moving around the country. So we expect that it will be resolved very quickly.”

Fayose, Yari clash over $1bn Boko Haram war cash

The row over the planned withdrawal of $1billion from the Excess Crude Account (ECA) to battle insecurity grew yesterday.

Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) chairman Abdulaziz Yari and Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose clashed over the issue in Abuja after a meeting of the representatives of the governors with speakers of the houses of Assembly over the 1999 constitution amendment plan.

But Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said the money was not only for the Boko Haram battle rather for general security in the country.

Yari, the governor of Zamfara State, insisted that 32 governors endorsed the decision. Fayose said he had gone to court over the matter. Both of them spoke to reporters at the State House.

Yari said: ” This is democracy and each and every person has his own way to want to look at things and you cannot stop him from agitation. Nigerian Governors Forum discussed this issue at our November meeting and we agreed across party lines that this thing had been done in 2014 when $2 billion was taken in agreement with the governors at that meeting.

“Governor Akpabio moved the motion. This time, we realised that there was need to purchase equipment for the military, so we felt we should not compromise the issue of security for the entire country.

“We said as governors, we agreed to forfeit $1 billion of our own share of excess crude account which we are going to back up with state assembly resolutions at a later time.

“This is not the first time a decision like this is being taken; it happened during Jonathan’s era when they took $2 billion. We all agreed at that time collectively in the same chamber to withdraw $2 billion to procure equipment for the military and also for logistics for the military because they were telling us whether it was true or false that our soldiers were being killed. There was no opposition to the decision at that time.

“Secondly, there was this decision also under (the late President Umaru) Yar’Adua when they were sourcing funds for Niger Delta Power Holdings. They also took over N5 billion for power generation; we followed the same process to withdraw the money from the same account and our respective houses of Assembly confirmed the resolution.”

He noted that the $2 billion taken under Jonathan was not backed up by any resolution from the state assemblies.
He urged Nigerians not to play politics with national security.

Yari added: “By the way, at the Governors’ Forum, 12 members form a quorum. At the time we took this decision, we had 32 members in attendance and there was no single opposition to the decision. We had the majority and there was not even minority opinion at that meeting.

“We look at the country Nigeria first before any other issue; it is only when you have the country that you can have the politics.”

On giving out $1 billion despite not paying salaries, he said: “You see, if you are not an economist you may not understand what you are talking about. These monies are kept there for the rainy day. And how much are those monies? It is $2 billion. Except in 2015 when we came begging, now we are asking for what is our own.

“The Federal Government was deducting the money illegally in those days. We were asking the Federal Government to give us what is our own. Then we were appealing; they were not listening, thank God today we have a listening government, which makes attempt to pay 50 per cent and now we are looking forward to the last balance of 50 per cent. And graciously understanding the economies of the states, the Federal Government has agreed to pay so that the state government can pay salaries and meet their obligations to their citizens.”

But Fayose said he was not in support of the $1 billion approval.

He said: “In my state, we have agreed to go to court to contest this. It is our legitimate right. All accruals to the federation must be shared by the three tiers of government and, for me to get justice, I had to go to court.”

On what the consensus was at yesterday’s meeting, he said “the issue was not discussed at all. But, for me, I have taken appropriate steps because the money belongs to Ekiti people.”

Asked if he was alone in the fight or if the entire PDP states were with him, he said: “ I am speaking for Ayo Fayose. With the PDP and the stakeholders, we have not met. I did not attend the meeting. Even if I was part of the meeting, I would have made it expressly clear that I will not support it.

“Every state has its own peculiarities in terms of security. Ekiti State has ’Hunger Ram’ where hunger is catching people everywhere. A lot of people are being kidnapped daily. Whatever is in that money for me we should share it, let everybody go and solve his own problem. I have challenges and they should give me my money. It is Ekiti’s money.”

Vice President Osinbajo, opening the retreat of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation with Secretaries to the State Governments (SSGs) at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said: the decision followed a security summit hosted two months ago by the NEC, which was crucial in understanding and dimensioning the security problems of the country and the weaknesses of our security architecture.”

He said the summit examined kidnapping, small arms trafficking, terrorist activities of Boko Haram in the Northeast, clashes between herdsmen and farmers and cattle rustling.

“It was on account of the security summit that the governors at the Governors’ Forum subsequently decided that they would vote a certain sum of money, which has become somewhat controversial, the $1billion, to assist the security architecture of the country,” Osinbajo said, adding:

“It was to assist all of the issues in the states, including policing in the states, community policing, all of the different security challenges that we have.

“It was after the security summit that the Governors’ Forum met across party lines. Again, I must add, in order to approve and to accept that this is what needed to be done to shore up our security architecture.”

Osinbajo seeks remedy for poor renummeration of media practitioners

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday criticized the non-payment of salaries of media practitioners by their employers and called for full debate on the whole orientation of media salaries.

He said this while declaring open the retreat of the State House Press Corps in Abuja with the theme “Journalists and Retirement Plans’’.

The Vice President noted that to avoid the pains of working and going home without benefits all employees, not only of the media, should be compelled to join the government’s contributory pension scheme.

Osinbajo stated that the theme of the retreat was apt, especially for those in the informal sector due to uncertainties surrounding retirement.

According to him remunerations of media practitioners are poor because some employers have the penchant to cheat the workers and also because the private sector does not recognize minimum wage.

He said there was the need to enforce some kind of adherence to minimum wage law by all employers rather than for civil servants alone.

Osinbajo also noted that media men were denied their salaries because the profession did not have entry point thus allowing non-professionals to overwhelm it.

““Anybody can basically enter into journalism,’’ he said and advised the professionals to combat quackery.

““Generally speaking, people are poorly paid; professional associations should be strong lobbies for good pay and their engagement should be more robust,’’ he said.

He called on media practitioners to seek self-improvement in and outside the profession to become sector experts and withstand the challenges after practice.

Citing some pay challenges confronting other professionals, he noted that there was great disparity between what people earn and what they spend adding that the disparity should be corrected immediately.

The Chairman of the occasion and Nassarawa state governor, Tanko Al-Makura, noted that journalists were not immune to the uncertainties surrounding retirement and should make the retirement state a stepping stone to higher heights.

Represented by the Commissioner for Information and Culture, Alhaji Abdulhammed Kwarra, the governor noted that workers should look up to retirement with pomp, which incidentally was not the case.

He said that financial security in retirement did not just happen except for those who made deliberate efforts to save.

“”You have to make saving for retirement a goal as well as device creative ways of being self-sustaining after retirement,’’ the governor advised.

The Guest Speaker and Chief Executive Officer of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Mr Tony Elumelu, said that retirement plan was not based on age as both the young and old could plan ahead and invest to take care of the period.

He advised the correspondents to conceptualise what they would like to do after journalism and then start developing it little by little until it would grow to huge enterprise.

He, however, stated that whatever one choses to invest in, one must have the passion for it.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi and his Information counterpart, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, graced the event. (NAN)

I’ve no plan to replace Osinbajo in 2019, says Tinubu

All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has debunked the speculation that he may be picked by President Muhammadu Buhari as his running mate in 2019.

The Sun reported the story, which Tinubu described as a “classic case of utterly and irredeemably-fake news”.

He said he and the people of the Southwest “have absolute confidence and are exceedingly proud of the excellent job Professor Osinbajo is doing as Vice-President of Nigeria”.

The Sun, in a front page lead story yesterday, claimed that Prof. Osinbajo was considering returning to full-time church work and that Tinubu was being mooted as a replacement for him, according to the newspaper, “as a way to have a solid Southwest support for the APC, in the face of a South-east/South-south alliance in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)”.

But Tinubu, in a statement by his Media Office in Lagos, said there was no empirical or logical basis for the speculative story.

The statement entitled: “Asiwaju Tinubu Debunks The Sun report on 2019 VP Slot” reads: “The attention of the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu Media Office has been drawn to the front page lead story of The Sun newspaper of yesterday, December 13, 2017, which sensationally and ridiculously reported that President Muhammadu Buhari may pick Asiwaju Tinubu as his running mate for the 2019 election. This is a classic case of utterly and irredeemably fake news.

“There is no empirical or logical basis for this mischievously speculative story. Is it even conceivable, as the story recklessly insinuates, that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would be considering returning to full church work rather than run with his boss, President Buhari for a second term if the latter so decides without as much as discussing such a sensitive issue with his party and with Asiwaju Tinubu? In any case, is this story not entirely unwarranted and indefensible as the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket has an electoral mandate of four years out of which it has spent only over two years and a half years?

“This is clearly an attempt to distract the APC Federal Government from the yeoman’s job it has been doing in rescuing the country from the deep rooted socio-economic, political, security and moral mess inherited from the PDP’s 16 years misrule of Nigeria, instigate crisis within the party, stoke dangerous embers of religious disaffection within the party and the country generally and stem the remarkable progress being made in the reinvention and revitalisation of Nigeria.

“The Sun newspaper, through this kind of story, does great discredit to Nigerian journalism, which has made considerable strides towards greater professionalism and excellence over the years. For the avoidance of doubt, Asiwaju Tinubu has absolute confidence and faith in both President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo who have been working hard harmoniously in offering inspirational leadership to Nigeria at a most critical period in her history. The haemorrhaging of the national economy through the wanton and unprecedented corruption that obtained before the advent of the APC Federal Government has been stanched.

“There is greater sanity, accountability and transparency in the management of the country’s finances. The Boko Haram insurgency has been substantially contained. We should not allow ourselves to be derailed from the job we are effectively undertaking in fulfilling our campaign promises anchored on the tripod of containing insecurity, taming the scourge of corruption and resuscitating the economy.

“The Buhari and Osinbajo-led Federal Government is deftly steering the country out of an economic recession that was the result of the ineptness of the PDP years of the locusts. Asiwaju Tinubu will never support any attempt to distract Buhari and Osinbajo from the job they are passionately doing through the kind of false report carried by The Sun.

“In particular, this story does great injustice to Vice President Osinbajo. Here is a man of the highest integrity, moral rectitude, amazing humility, high intellect and unimpeachable credibility. Here is a man of fierce loyalty and absolute trustworthiness who will never do anything in word, thought or deed to undermine his boss. His unquestionable dependability and indisputable fidelity to his oath of office was demonstrated beyond question by his honourable conduct during the President’s medical vacation. Asiwaju Tinubu and the people of the Southwest have absolute confidence and are exceedingly proud of the excellent job Prof. Osinbajo is doing as Vice President of Nigeria.

“Asiwaju takes serious exception to the insinuation by The Sun and in some other quarters that there was ever any so-called frosty relationship between Buhari and Tinubu. We challenge The Sun to provide any evidence where Tinubu has ever complained of any grouse against Buhari. As Asiwaju had cause to point out recently, having been elected President, Buhari had to be given the space to run his government. There have always been and will always be channels of communication between Tinubu and Buhari as members of the same party. Their interaction must not necessarily always be conducted in the public space.

“Contrary to the impression The Sun seeks to create, Asiwaju’s politics is not that of unbridled personal ambition for selfish interest. When at some point in the build-up to the 2015 election, President Buhari offered him the Vice –Presidential ticket, Tinubu gratefully and publicly thanked the President. When it turned out that such an offer would not be in the interest of the party and would play into the hands of enemies of change, Asiwaju unreservedly and passionately threw his support behind Osinbajo as the best man for the job. His opinion has not changed. Indeed, his confidence and belief in Osinbajo has been amply justified by the latter’s sterling performance in the office. This attempt to cause disaffection between the duo cannot and will not fly.

“As Asiwaju firmly asserted in a public statement on December 17th 2014 endorsing Professor Osinbajo for the position of running mate to President Buhari. ‘After all the political calculations are made and the dust of competition has settled, it must be this nation and its people who stand first and foremost. The question becomes whether we stand strong, able to shape ourselves into our best future or will we stand frail and trembling, burdened by the abject failure to surmount the multiple problems confronting us…For me, political ambition will never triumph over patriotic conviction.

“This delicate moment affords no space for emotion to intrude to blind us from what is best. The APC is the best and only vehicle to enact the progressive and broad change this nation cries for. I eagerly lend myself to this fine cause without me having to be on the ticket. This is a time for cohesion and an overriding sense of mission. We must defeat the foe before us and resist all temptations intended to entice us to fight among ourselves’. As it was then so it remains today and on this patriotic and selfless commitment Asiwaju stands unshakably”.