Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday dashed to London for a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari. It was Prof. Osinbajo’s first visit since the President left for London on May 7 on medical vacation.
The visit enabled him to brief the President on how he has been steering the ship of state. Sources said it also enabled him to have first-hand knowledge about the President’s well-being.
The President left for a second medical vacation on May 7. His ailment has not been disclosed.
There were indications that Prof. Osinbajo may have obtained the President’s consent to carry out some major reforms and fill some strategic positions.
The inauguration of Prof. Stephen Ocheni (Kogi) and Mr Suleiman Hassan (Gombe) as ministers was said to be on the cards.
Ocheni is to replace the former Minister of State Labour James Ocholi, who died in an accident; Hassan will replace Mrs Amina Mohammed, who is now United Nations Deputy Secretary General. Both have been cleared by the Senate.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that Osinbajo’s shuttle to London was carried out through “covert diplomatic and intelligence methods.”
Most of Osinbajo’s key aides and cabinet members were oblivious of the trip. After making a brief remark at a Presidential Quarterly Business Forum at the old Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja, the Acting President did not return to his office but headed straight for the airport.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The trip was carefully planned and silently executed in order to prevent it from being aborted.
“The Acting President has actually been relying on third party information and purported directives from the President in London.
“But since the President has shut out some of these forces from seeing him, it became important for the Acting President to meet with the President.
“The Acting President went with a tight entourage and the trip was closely guarded. All the influence peddlers were not in the picture of the trip.”
Another source said: “The trip had been planned in the past three weeks but was only known to few people for strategic reasons. The ‘Jackals and Hyenas’ were beaten to it.
“The Acting President went to London to wish his boss well, get undiluted information on his health, brief the President on certain decisions he had taken and seek his approval for some appointments and outstanding reforms in government.
“Some members of the cabinet have not been committed to Osinbajo’s acting presidency too.
“Other parts of Osinbajo’s visit were the need to clear misgivings about some of the steps he has taken, especially the need to clarify that he is not executing any anti-North agenda and the alleged accusation of abandoning the President’s agenda.
“Some of those who has access to the President had painted a wrong picture of the situation at home in order to create a wedge between him and Prof. Osinbajo.
“The trip was laced with some diplomatic and intelligence coordination. Most cabinet members and key aides were caught unawares”.
The source added: “So far, the trip is fruitful and the Acting President will be able to do certain things including the inauguration of the two ministers.
“I think we should expect some radical changes after this trip. The two leaders discussed extensively on some directions.”
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the Acting President Laolu Akande spoke with our correspondent at about 7.38pm yesterday from London.
He confirmed that Osinbajo was in London to meet with the President but he did not give any details.
He released a terse tweet: “Ag. President Osinbajo meeting with President Buhari in London today (yesterday) and returning to Abuja immediately afterwards.”