New Telegraph - Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has denied pursuing a religious and ethnic agenda in his choice of individuals for federal appointments. He particularly denied favouring members of his church, the Redeemed Christian Church of Nigeria (RCCG), and his kinsmen from the South- West in critical appointments in his office and federal agencies. Osinbajo stated that most senior positions in his office are held by Muslims and Northerners.
A social media contributor from Zamfara State, Ismaila Farouk, had recently accused Osinbajo of nepotism and sectionalism with regards to appointment of his kinsmen and members of his church into federal agencies and as personal staff in his office.
But Senior Special Assistant to the acting President on Legal Matters, Dr. Bilkisu Saidu, in a statement yesterday dismissed the claims as baseless and unfounded. The presidential aide also described Farouk as a faceless online commentator.
Saidu had earlier appeared on “Shirin Safe”, an interview programme on BBC Hausa Radio yesterday, where she condemned the allegations. She described the nepotism charges as simply laughable, untrue, unfair and should not be taken seriously. According to her, contrary to Farouk’s conclusions, most senior positions in the Vice President’s Office are held by Muslims, including individuals who are from the North.
Said she: “If you are talking about religion, the most senior official or position in the Office of the Vice President apart from the Vice President himself, is the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President and the name of the person occupying that office is Abdulrahman Ipaye and he is a Muslim.
“The positions following the Chief of Staff ’s in the order of hierarchy are the Special Advisers in the office of the Vice President. Here, there are three Special Advisers and two out of the three Special Advisers are Muslims, Senator Babafemi Ojudu and Barrister Mariam Uwais from Kano State.” Saidu said that a cursory look at the other senior positions in the Vice President’s office indicate that religious consideration was never a factor in the appointment of the officers, noting that “if you look at the remaining senior positions in that office, most of them are in the hands of Muslims from the North.”
“For instance, the person in charge of Protocol (i.e. the Director of Protocol) is Ambassador Abdullahi Gwary from Yobe State; those in charge of welfare and health in the office of the Vice President are mostly Muslims and from the North. “Worthy of note are the stewards, those who serve the Vice President’s meals are mostly Muslims. So what do the critics mean when they talk about religion?”
The presidential aide concluded that when non-progressive minded people fail to win public support on their personal agenda, they often resort to the use of religion given its sensitivity among Nigerians.According to her, “When people lack what to use or have exhausted all avenues to speak evil against perceived opponents or ridicule the good works that they are doing, they resort to use of religion or other means possible to damage the image and reputation of that opponent.” Saidu was a law teacher from the Usmanu Dan Fodiyo University, Sokoto before she was appointed as SSA in the Office of the Vice President last year.
Another presidential aide told New Telegraph that more than 75 per cent Babaof security operatives attached to Osinbajo are Muslims and Northerners. T he source said that majority of the security operatives were inherited from former Vice-President Namadi Sambo. The source added that all the cooks and stewards attached to Osinbajo are Muslims and Northerners.