The art of second-guessing the second in command

by Alexander O. Onukwue


A former House member of the House of Representatives in the second republic, Dr Junaid Mohammed, gave a refreshingly blunt and lucid interview to the Punch newspapers, in which he bared many things with the poise that many have not dared to muster.

The former legislator discussed a range of issues from the renting of crowds for the President’s return, and favouring Buhari’s national red lines, to expressing his disappointments with Osinbajo as well as a scathing rebuke of a Kaduna Mafia.

One of the points in the interview was a familiar one about the power play in the Presidency, particularly how Prof Yemi Osinbajo was undermined by the so-called cabal in Buhari’s absence. As Acting President, the 103 days spent by Prof Osinbajo were constantly scrutinized for frictions with the members of the President’s inner circles, both in London and in Abuja. There was no shaking off the conjecture that Buhari’s approval had to be sought for every action to be taken by Osinbajo, as was pointed out in several articles, including one by Reuters.

Explaining the mechanics of how Osinbajo was not given the free hand to lead the country, Dr Mohammed said it was the pattern of the cabal to present counteractive options to President Buhari in London for every action Osinbajo wished to take.

“What they do is, they make sure they second-guess Osinbajo, what he’s going to do and then they go ahead and get Buhari to commit to a contrary opinion or a contrary line of action. They first try to see what he is likely to do; they don’t go and tell Buhari. This is what Osinbajo is planning to do.’ They get Buhari to commit — sometimes, publicly — to a view, policy or thrust, which is contrary to what Osinbajo has been trying to bring up as a policy. They do that by frustrating him (the vice president) and making sure that he doesn’t have his way.”

Dr Junaid did not spare Osinbajo of blames for not achieving much during his three months in charge, but he gave the cabal their place in making it the more difficult for Osinbajo to have achieved the much he wanted to.

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