BUHARI’S SICK LEAVE ENERGISES NIGERIA MORE, AS OSINBAJO WALKS THE TALK

Felix Onuah and Ulf Laessing

According to the report, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo is pulling all the right moves.

”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,” Reuters reports.

The report cited peaceful anti-government protesters in February, Nigeria’s new foreign exchange policy, longer working hours for government officials in Aso rock and reduced militants attack in the Niger Delta as some of positive things that has happened since Buhari went on medical vacation.

ABUJA/LAGOS (Reuters) – When protesters marched on Nigeria’s presidential villa earlier this month to complain about a biting recession, they were not repelled by baton-wielding policemen, the usual fate for anyone arriving uninvited at the gate of the country’s power centre.

Instead, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who is standing in for the country’s sick leader, sent a vehicle to ferry the protest leaders to his office, where they complained about widespread corruption.

In a frank admission, Osinbajo acknowledged the government had failed to make as much progress fighting graft as it had hoped.

“We hear you loud and clear,” he told the protesters.

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.
To be sure, Osinbajo has made clear his loyalty lies with Buhari, a retired general who has struggled to define a clear strategy to deal with Nigeria’s slide into recession and stands accused by opponents of inaction.

“We believe the reform agenda is back on track,” said Bismarck Rewane, CEO of Lagos consultancy Financial Derivatives. “The reform agenda has always been there but is more visible now with the vice president,” he said.
The president’s office has posted pictures on social media of Buhari recuperating to allay rumours his health was worse than publicly acknowledged, though none have been published for more than a week.
For now, there is no clarity on when Buhari, from the predominantly Muslim north, will return.

BUHARI’S BACKING

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 since Osinbajo promised to drag the region out of poverty in a flurry of speeches.
Moreover, Osinbajo has showed himself to be swift to act.

Nigerian Bulletin

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