Nigeria’s Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, has made a last-minute cancelation of a trip to India owing to protocol blunders by the Protocol Department of the Presidency as well as a realization that Senate President Bukola Saraki would have had to act as President for a couple of days. Mr. Saraki is currently embroiled in a trial for corruption that he and his legal team are using all kinds of controversial maneuvers to beat.
“When the President and VP are out of town, the running of the country will fall automatically into the hands of the Senate President,” a Presidency official told SaharaReporters this evening. He added, “We did not want the awkwardness that would come with that scenario.”
SaharaReporters learned that a 27-member delegation, including the VP and two ministers, were scheduled to travel today to India for a conference. But Mr. Osinbajo’s trip was shelved when the Presidency’s protocol team discovered at the last minute that President Muhammadu Buhari was also going to travel to Equatorial Guinea on Sunday for a state visit that is scheduled to start on Monday.
Mr. Osinbajo’s trip to India, which was billed to end on Wednesday, would have meant that Nigeria would for more than two days be without its first two citizens, leaving the reins of power in the hands of Senate President Saraki. A source close to the VP stated that the prospect of Mr. Saraki’s assumption of presidential powers could not be tolerated in view of the ethical clouds around the senator. Mr. Saraki is currently facing criminal proceedings at the Code of Conduct Tribunal for alleged failure to make a correct declaration of his assets.
SaharaReporters learned that VP Osinbajo had already sent his advance party to India, and had booked hotels and made arrangements for ground transportation, all at a cost of $250,000, before the cancelation of the trip on Saturday.
President Buhari is still scheduled to travel to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, for a two-day visit that begins on Monday.
A source at the Presidency blamed the State Chief of Protocol (SCOP), Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure, as well as the protocol team for the near-blunder. “The president’s protocol chief, Malam Kazaure, and the protocol department again displayed great incompetence here,” a source at the Presidency fumed. “They ought to have caught the issue earlier before it cost Nigeria a huge sum of money,” he added.
According to the source, the current SCOP was ill suited for the demands of the protocol department, but he was hired at the behest of Mamman Daura, a powerful but shadowy figure who is the nephew of President Buhari.
Both Mr. Kazaure and the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, have drawn criticism for their incompetence, with some Presidency staffers complaining that the only reasons they got their posts was their closeness to Mr. Mamman Daura. Whereas Mr. Kyari worked for Mr. Daura’s company for more than 20 years, Mr. Kazaure is married to Mr. Daura’s sister.