Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has absolved President Muhammadu Buhari of allegations of nepotism being levelled against him.
He said ministers from the southern part of the country were in charge of more strategic ministries, adding that the Federal Executive Council had more Christian members despite that Buhari is a Muslim.
Osinbajo was said to have stated these while granting interview to some journalists and social media practitioners in Lagos on Friday.
The Vice-President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, made the transcript of the interview available to journalists on Sunday.
Osinbajo said, “Look at the cabinet, for example, from the point of view of religion, it has an equal number – 18 Christians, 18 Muslims; but, we have the Secretary to the Government of the Federation as well as the Head of Service who are Christians.
“So, we have 20 Christians to 18 Muslims; that’s the structure of the cabinet.
“So, if you take that narrative you may argue that perhaps the Christians have the upper hand; that’s a possible narrative.
“Let us look a little deeper into that, so there are those who may argue, for example, that the North has an upper hand or perhaps one section has an upper hand in the cabinet as one narrative.
“The South-East, for example, has five states. Four of the south-eastern states have senior ministers; all of them, except one, who is Minister of State for Education.”
When reminded that the President had no choice since the appointment of ministers was a constitutional requirement, Osinbajo said Buhari had a choice in assigning particular portfolios.
“In the North, seven northern states have no senior minister, including the President’s home state, Katsina. Now, there are those who will say, if you are nepotistic; surely seven northern states have no senior minister. It’s a narrative depending on how you want to run it.
“I give you another example; I’m from the South-West. There are people who will say ‘I am from the South-West, the North has everything.’ The South-West, for the first time in the history of this country, has one minister who is in charge of three ministries: Power, Works and Housing. The ministers of Finance and Communications are also from the South-West.
“These are critical ministries. You can run the narrative in whichever way that you choose. There are those who will say, for instance, look at the number of CEOs of agencies of government; the highest number of CEOs in our nation today comes from Ogun State, the state has the largest number. There are those who will say that’s my state. So you can run the narrative depending on how you want to run it,” he added.
Osinbajo reminded Nigerians that the President had promised to take a second look at areas of allegations of nepotism he found to be true.
He cited the example of appointments into security agencies as one of those Buhari had promised to look into.
“I believe that is the way to go because you can run any narrative that will suit the figures you are showing. And that is where we have legal process.
“There are people who don’t know that the number of CEOs from Anambra State is more than the number of CEOs from Katsina State or anywhere else, except Ogun,” he said.
Osinbajo also said the present administration was prosecuting its anti-corruption war by focusing on what he called “grand corruption.”
Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja