With the 2019 presidential election all but done and dusted, the last may not have been heard of the face-off between Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Cabal in the Presidency, who are united in their bid to frustrate the Veep ahead of 2023 presidential election. The cabal has also designed a sinister plot to take down the National leader of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, who is known to harbor 2023 presidential ambitions. The arrow head of the plot to unleash the anti-graft agencies against Tinubu is Kaduna governor, Nasir El-Rufai whose body language betrays his own 2023 ambitions.
According to Presidency sources, the Aso Villa cabal have adopted a new strategy to facilitate their plot; rallying together a new array of forces to wage the ongoing political battle in the Presidency, including one of Osinbajo’s staunchest political allies; as well as former key federal government officials (who lost their jobs in circumstances linked to the embattled vice-president). While the attack on the VP is aimed at tarnishing his image by spreading tales about him and rehashing old stories, the unifying appeal for all those now coming together to fight Tinubu is how to speedily stop him from a 2023 bid.
Alleged to be under the command of the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, those who are now working against Osinbajo include a former Governor of Lagos State (names withheld), former Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawan Daura that the VP ousted while he acted for the President, the former DG, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ayo Oke, who was indicted in a corruption probe chaired by the VP, and some indicted management staff of NEMA, who were dismissed by the NEMA board under the chairmanship of the VP due to several corruption cases, and conflict of interest.
Huhuonline.com gathered that the Cabal with the tacit support of President Muhammadu Buhari is hell bent on the North retaining power after eight years of Buhari to compensate for the 14 years of the combined Obasanjo and Jonathan administrations. The standing view within northern APC stalwarts is that the 2023 presidential ticket will be zoned to the Southwest and Northwest and if Osinbajo and Tinubu are muzzled out of the nomination process, then a deal would be cut with Ekiti State Governor and chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), Kayode Fayemi to be running mate to El-Rufai or any northern candidate.
According to another Aso Villa insider, the cabal has already proposed the appointment of the DG, SSS as new National Security Adviser; which explains why the Chief of Staff has continued to block the reappointment of the current NSA, Gen Baba Gana Monguno. While Monguno has not been publically reappointed, President Buhari has continued to have him around as an adviser to the chagrin of the Cabal. The Cabal believes that the current NSA is undermining their fight to force the VP to resign his office, by his unwillingness to join forces with other members of the Cabal against the VP.
But another Villa source told Huhuonline.com that the machinations of the Cabal are motivated by politics of self-preservation. “If you look at all the people Abba Kyari and Babagana Kingibe are bringing together to fight the VP, most of them have one corruption case or the other against their name. They want to stop the VP now because they know they would go to jail if the VP ever becomes president. They are afraid of their own records,” the source noted
The former DSS boss, Lawan Daura is known to be very angry and bitter with the VP, who in an unexpected move in 2018 fired him after DSS agents illegally swoon on the National Assembly, causing a national disgrace and an international embarrassment to Nigeria’s image as a country with highly dysfunctional institutions where bizarre things can happen.
While no one saw Daura’s sack coming, the case of Ayo Oke, the sacked NIA DG was different. His grouse against the VP is that the VP refused his entreaties from several quarters to protect Oke, who was indicted by a probe set up by the President and presided over by the VP. Osinbajo was said to have refused to play ball even after Oke, who was said to be in possession of millions of dollars had offered to cut a deal with the VP. Oke and his wife remain at large and are believed to be in a hideout provided by the Cabal. He is now working with the cabal, to dig up dirt that can be used against the VP. The latest salvo is the letter by fugitive chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property; Okoi Obono-Obla, accusing Osinbajo of making several efforts to frustrate the investigation of several corrupt persons by the panel. According to Obono-Obla, his decision to resist such pressure allegedly mounted on him by Osinbajo through Ade Ipaye, Deputy Chief of Staff in the vice-president’s office, and two secretaries of the panel, appointed by Osinbajo, landed him in his current travails.
While many observers may not be shocked by the willingness of the former FG officials to have their pound of flesh, the involvement of the former Lagos State governor is predicated on the fact that both men hail from the Southwest and as vice-president, Osinbajo is the heir apparent and next in line to the presidency. Some say Tinubu has not issued any public statement to defend the VP since the public attacks began mid last month and the two men have neither met nor spoken even on the phone. However, an aide to the former Governor told Huhuonline.com that his boss does not run the Villa and cannot be vicariously held liable for the travails of the VP.
Even though the VP is yet to declare interest in 2023, it seems clear he wouldn’t dare make any public declaration to that effect to avoid infuriating the APC national leader. The source said the cabal believes if the VP is pushed out of contention, Tinubu will be bogged down by the anti-graft agencies who will be investigating him for corruption on several fronts. A proposal by the Cabal to banish aides of the VP from the Villa has been resisted by Buhari who argued that the VP and his team remains an asset to his Presidency.
Aso Villa sources confided to Huhuonline.com that although Buhari has not openly supported the decision by the Cabal to take down Tinubu, his body language suggests tacit support for the plot and this has made the Cabal more bold and confident. It therefore came as no surprise to Aso Rock insiders when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) announced on Monday that it has received a petition asking it to investigate the source of the money conveyed in bullion vans to Tinubu’s home, on the eve of the 2019 presidential election. The petition, a copy of which was shown to Huhuonline.com, was written by Concerned Nigerians and acknowledged at the reception desk of the Executive Chairman’s office.
The innocuous timing of the petition is curious as the petitioner claimed to be responding to a challenge issued by the anti-graft agency over a year ago. The Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, had said in a press briefing on November 12, 2018, that the Commission would investigate Tinubu anytime it receives a petition to do so.
Speaking shortly after submitting the petition, Deji Adeyanju, who led other petitioners, said: “I have decided to take up your challenge after you called for a petition through your social media account on Twitter.” He stated that the group wants the EFCC to launch an investigation into the appearance of bullion vans in the compound of a private citizen, Tinubu, on the eve of 2019 presidential elections.
The petition read: “The Commission would recall that it was reported all over the news that bullion vans allegedly containing an undisclosed amount of cash were seen entering the home of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State on the eve of Nigeria’s presidential election. Tinubu himself admitted to this fact while responding to questions by journalists.
“It is pertinent to note that section 7 (1) (b) of EFCC Establishment Act 2004 gives the Commission the power to investigate properties of any person that it appears to the Commission that the person’s lifestyle and extent of the properties are not justified by his source of income. To the best of our knowledge, Mr Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a private citizen who ordinarily should not be seen with a convoy of bullion vans.
“The questions begging for answers are: What were bullion vans doing in the house of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu? Who owns the content, believed to be cash in the bullion vans that were seen entering the house of Bola Ahmed Tinubu on the eve of Nigeria’s presidential election? Has the Commission, based on its core mandates, investigated the source of the bullion vans? Is Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s house now a bank where bullion vans take money?”
Adeyanju called on the Commission to as a matter of urgency begin an investigation into the appearance of those bullion vans. He added: “You will recall that the Commission has been very hard on members of the opposition including detaining them for weeks on allegations of corruption and has now turned its focus on Yahoo Boys. We cannot as a nation, have two separate rules for fighting corruption, one for those opposed to the ruling party and another for supporters of the government.”