The presidency has dismissed as smear campaign, allegations of nepotism and favouritism against Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
The presidency was reacting to an article by one Dr. Ismaila Farouk, who cited the composition of the Presidential Advisory and Competitiveness Council, and key appointments like the chief executive officers of Bank of Industry and Pension Commission.
The article had also accused Osinbajo of ensuring that all his aides were either Yoruba or members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. It compared him with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who he said appointed his aides from other parts of the country.
Osinbajo was specifically accused of appointing Yoruba men, Mr. Funso Doherty as the Director-General of Pension Commission (PenCom), and Mr. Olukayode Pitan as Managing Director of Bank of Industry.
He was accused of appointing his brother in law, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, who is the Executive Director/CEO, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, into the Presidential Advisory and Competitiveness Council.
The Acting President was also accused of appointing his deputy when he was the Pastor of RCCG, Banana Island, Lagos, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, who is minister of Trade, as the Vice Chairman of the Presidential Advisory and Competitiveness Council which he inaugurated in the Presidential Villa last Monday.
While further accusing him of strategising for 2019 with the hope that Buhari would be unable to contest, the article accused Osinbajo of filling the advisory council with either his kinsmen in the South-west or members of RCCG.
On the appointment of the Director-General of PenCom, a presidency source told Thisday that "There has been much talk about failure of government to replace the former Pencom Director General with someone from the same zone as hers. It is argued that this ran contrary to Section 21(2) of the Pension Reform Act 2014. However, that section only applies 'in the event of a vacancy.'
"Indeed, in that case, the President shall appoint a replacement from the same geo-political zone of the immediate past member who vacated the office to complete the remaining tenure. This is to ensure that no geo-political zone loses out in the event of a removal and replacement of one particular member, when others from other zones remain in office.
"However, where as in this case, the entire Board is dissolved and reconstituted, the question is not about replacement of any particular person from any particular geo-political zone. Rather, it is to ensure that in the newly reconstituted Board, every one of the six political zones is represented. The new appointees, covering all zones, are as follows: Ali Usman Ahmed (North East)- Chairman; Funso Doherty (South West) -Director General, Manasseh Terna Denga (North Central) -Commissioner; Abubakar Zaki Magawata (North West) – Commissioner; Ben Oviosu (South South) -Commissioner and Nyerere Ayim (South East) – Commissioner.
"Unfortunately, another controversy arose, following the slight alteration in the list earlier announced. The nominees have not taken office. So, thankfully, it is not a matter of vacancy this time. But why this alteration anyway?
"Unfortunately, the earlier announced appointment of Abdulrahman Dikko was found to be in error, as it ran contrary to Section 19 (5) of PRA 2014 which says that 'the chairman and members of the PenCom Board shall not own controlling shares in any of the pension funds administrator or pension funds custodian prior to or during their tenure of office as chairman or members of the board.'
"It is not disputed that Dikko is currently a majority shareholder at Premium Pension Limited, one of the most prominent pension funds administrators in Nigeria today, hence the need to immediately rectify the error by moving him to a position for which he is clearly qualified. Dikko is now the appointed Chairman of the Bank of Industry Board".
On the allegation that the acting president was strategising for 2019, the presidential source said politicking had never been a matter for contemplation by the vice-president, pointing out that he reluctantly accepted the offer to be vice-president, a reason which explains why he has never bothered to use his office to build a political structure for himself in his South-west zone.
On Enelamah, the source said contrary to the claim that Osinbajo brought the Minister of Trade and Investment into the government, the minister was actually nominated by the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Abba Kyari, whom he said had worked with Enelamah in the course of his private business before the advent of Buhari's administration.
He also dismissed the allegation that the newly constituted advisory council was filled with Yoruba and RCCG members, explaining that Enelamah only became vice-chairman of the council by virtue of his office as Minister of Trade and Investment.
The source dismissed the allegation that the acting president travels to the South-west to attend his church with a retinue of his aides. He described it as a blatant lie, disclosing that the acting president funds his trips that have to do with visits to his church and Redemption Camp.