Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said all the agencies he supervises always follow due process in the award of contracts and other critical matters contrary to a recent press report. The Office of the Vice President was reacting to a report that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed Mr Osinbajo to seek approvals for agencies under his supervision. The report by The Cable detailed how President Buhari directed Mr Osinbajo to seek presidential approvals for agencies under his supervision in a presidential memo.
Although the laws setting up the agencies stipulate that the president is empowered to give final approvals, the newspaper said the provisions were not strictly followed during the first term of Mr Osinbajo.
According to the report, with the new presidential memo, “the vice-president will now have to seek approvals for contract awards, annual reports, annual accounts, and the power to borrow, and power to make regulations, among other key functions”. On Monday, Mr Buhari appointed an Economic Advisory Council (EAC) and disbanded the Economic Management Team led by Mr Osinbajo.
Mr Buhari had appointed Osinbajo chairman of EMT during his first term, although the position was held by ministers of finance under previous administrations. Currently, Mr Osinbajo is the chairman of the governing boards of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the National Boundary Commission (NBC) and the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA).
He is also the chairman of the board of directors of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), a limited liability company owned by the three tiers of government. The vice president chairs the National Economic Council (NEC), a constitutional body made up of state governors and key federal government officials, as well as the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).
In a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday night, the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media & Publicity, Laolu Akande, described as “false” insinuations that due process was not strictly being followed before now. “Our attention has been drawn to a sensational report by The Cable published on September 17, 2019, which claims that His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, has directed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to seek approvals for agencies under him,” the statement said.
Mr Akande said the report suggests, falsely, “that agencies under the supervision of the Vice President do not normally comply with established rules where presidential approvals are required”.
He said the report is misleading and aims “only to plant seeds of discord in the Presidency while attempting to create unnecessary national hysteria.”
“To claim that in the first term of the Buhari administration, agencies of government have not been complying with the provisions (of getting final approvals from the President) is false, and the attempt to suggest the Vice President’s complicity in such irregularities is simply mischievous and reprehensible,” he said.
Mr Akande said the agencies in question are established by law and the Vice President “has always insisted on due compliance with the enabling statutes and other established regulations”.
“Depending on the particular scope of activity in question, agencies may require management approval only, at the level of the Director-General or Chief Executive Officer. In this category falls the great majority of their day-to-day activities,” he said.
According to him, other activities, or procurements, with value exceeding a certain threshold, require Board approval.
“These may get to the agency Board chaired by the Vice President. In a few cases where Presidential approval is required, the Director-General must seek such approval from the President, through the Vice President. These rules have always guided the activities of statutory agencies and the ones under the Vice President’s supervision have always been so guided,” he said.
“Even though the Vice President has a statutory role as Board Chairman of some government agencies under his office, with appropriate approval limits, which often do not include contract approvals; it is ludicrous to even insinuate that a Board Chairman approves contracts,” he said.
He said the Federal Executive Council, which oversees ministries and agencies of government, is chaired by the President, “and it is in its purview to approve or ratify award of contracts within the prescribed threshold”. Premium Times
Pix: Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo