A member of the House of Representatives, Akin Alabi, and some social media users have disagreed over the powers of the Chief of Staff to the President in a democratic government.
Alabi, who represents Egbeda/Ona-Ara Federal Constituency, had taken to his verified Twitter handle to comment on the controversy sparked by a photo of the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, to London to give the president a bill to sign.
Social media users have criticised Kyari, accusing him of usurping the powers of Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.
Some also justified their argument with the refusal of Buhari to hand over to Osinbajo while he was leaving the country on a three-week ‘private visit’ to London.
Twitter users labelled Kyari the Vice President on Administration while they also tagged Osinbajo as Vice President Academics, an appellation given to him by a media aide to Kano State Governor, Salihu Tanko Yanakasai aka Dawisu.
In his reaction discarding the argument of Kyari’s critics, Alabi tweeted:
“Whether you like it or not, in a presidential system of government (eg, US, Nigeria), the post of the Chief of Staff is more “powerful” than that of the Vice President. He is the assistant President. The Vice President is a stand in for the president.
“It is NOT the duty of the Vice President to take a bill to the president. It’s the job of an assistant. Like the Chief of Staff. The Vice President has been excellent performing his constitutional duties and the ones assigned to him.
“If the President decides NOT to see Vice President Osinbajo as a PA, which I don’t think he should, then I’m 100% in support of that. I understand the political agenda of the noisemakers but anyone ready to learn should learn.
“I don’t know whether there are problems between the Chief of Staff and the Vice President. Maybe there is. It’s politics and it happens everywhere. But with this bill signing issue, there is nothing out of the ordinary for the Chief of staff to bring a document for the president.”
Some staunch supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other social media users took exception to Alabi’s tweet, describing it as a false narrative.
Demola Olanrewaju wrote:
“This is ridiculous by every known standard of democracy and worse coming from a national legislator. The Chief of Staff’s closeness to the person of the President cannot make him more powerful than the office of the Vice-President. This is 100% false in a presidential system.”
The federal lawmaker responded:
I’m sure you know what I mean sir but I will leave it at that.
— Oloye Akin Alabi (@akinalabi) November 5, 2019
I’m worried you turned it partisan, into how “APC members will justify anomaly”. I would have said the same thing if it was a PDP house. My tweet had nothing to do with APC/PDP. It’s simple day to day operations in the presidents office and the COS is more powerful. I stand by it
— Oloye Akin Alabi (@akinalabi) November 5, 2019
If closeness to the President is superior to constitutional provisions as to power, why are you even in the Federal House?
Because by your logic, a houseboy in Aso Rock has more power than you as a constitutionally-sworn-in HOR member – that’s not the presidential system.
— Demola Olarewaju (@DemolaRewaju) November 5, 2019
A UK-based PDP supporter, Adetutu Balogun, also criticised the lawmaker over his comment.
A member of the House of Representatives, one of those making our laws says that the “Chief of Staff is more powerful more than the Vice President”… 🤦♀️🤦♀️
How can a Chief of Staff that is not recognised by the constitution can be more “powerful” than the Vice President?🙄 https://t.co/ahZPhxidTg
— Adetutu Balogun (Eze Ada 1 of Diaspora) (@Tutsy22) November 5, 2019
A former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Chidi Odinkalu tweeted:
— Chidi Odinkalu (@ChidiOdinkalu) November 5, 2019
Some social media users also reacted to Akin Alabi’s stance on the issue.
— Abdullah Gbolahan (@Gboleegege) November 5, 2019
The “Whether you like it or not” quip speaks volume of your mindset. No single regard for citizens. This attitude of seeing everything the president DOES as RIGHT; is what will be the fall of him. History has a way of dealing big blows to over bloated egos.
— Gustavus Vassa (@realnamdosky) November 5, 2019
People would say anything to defend their interest. Can you imagine
— LionHeart (@cosmasoften) November 5, 2019
Excuse me Akin if the president goes on a vacation or leave is he not supposed to handover to his deputy? Is Nigeria his personal business that he signs a document as important as a law outside our shores & makes a carnival of it? Who does that please?
— Nkem4eva (@nwaegbe_nkem) November 5, 2019
From where does the COS gets his power from? As you are well aware, the VP constitutionally is the number 2 citizen, second most powerful by the law of the land.
— ThePreacher (@Damixco01) November 5, 2019
So why is the VP not the Acting President. una shall wan scatter this demonstration of craziness. why Chief of staff go waste tax payer money to London? Y’all just want us to give up on Nigeria!!
— Debbimation (@debbimation) November 5, 2019
For this kind of irresponsible assertion to be coming from a supposed lawmaker, just shows what the country has turned into. We are talking about constitutional responsibilities here, this one is talking about power play. Let Trump’s CoS try to usurp Pence and see… #Shame
— Jaspa Jacksparo (@ijacksparo) November 5, 2019
D question is in d absence of d president,is d president present it’s NO,let’s stop playing politics wt our rule of law,signing a document into law in foreign land is ok,no problem, hope u can kip saying ds if another president did ds too
— Mafe Sunday (@mafe_sunday) November 5, 2019