President Muhammadu Buhari’s medical vacation is still a trending topic in Nigeria and beyond
The president’s absence has brought to fore the ability of his deputy, Professor Yemi Osinbajo
Many have hailed Osinbajo for his insight since he took over in acting capacity
A report by Reuters indicates that President Muhammadu Buhari’s absence has energised an otherwise slow and static presidency.
According to the report, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who is standing in for the country’s sick leader, recently acknowledged that the government had failed to make progress fighting graft as it promised during the electioneering period in 2015.
“We hear you loud and clear,” Osinbajo told the Nigeria Labour Congress protesters via his Twitter handle.
President Muhammadu Buhari has been in London for six weeks on medical leave, raising questions over his capacity to govern Africa’s largest economy.
In his absence, diplomats and business leaders say the presidency has acted with an energy rarely seen in the two years since Buhari, 74, was elected.
Civil servants say they are handling heftier workloads, while investors are praising a new, long-needed foreign exchange policy.
Meanwhile, diplomats say Osinbajo’s inner circle is gaining influence inside the presidency, but Osinbajo has made it clear that his loyalty lies with Buhari.
But the 59-year-old lawyer is getting work done. He has relaxed visa rules to lure foreign investors, a plan drawn up by Buhari but which like others got stuck in his chief of staff’s office, according to diplomats.
Officials in Aso Rock have seen their working hours extended to 7 p.m. when Osinbajo leaves, or later. Buhari and his aides typically close shop at 4 p.m, officials said.
“This man is a workaholic,” one presidency insider said. “I wonder whether he rests at all because he even shifts some of the meetings to his official residence.”
Osinbajo’s leadership appears to have been accepted in the north, which under an informal deal with the Christian south should have its turn at the helm of power.
And he has won praise from southerners who felt neglected by Buhari, visiting both the commercial capital, Lagos, and the oil producing Niger Delta on several occasions. Buhari has visited neither as president.
Local residents say militant attacks on pipelines in the Delta have fallen sinceOsinbajo promised to drag the region out of poverty in a flurry of speeches.
Moreover, Osinbajo has showed himself to be swift to act.
On one trip to Lagos’ international airport, he challenged officials on why the air conditioning and a luggage carousel were not working, and even inspected the toilets. The next day he fired the bosses of Nigeria’s civil aviation.