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:
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A UK-based PDP supporter, Adetutu Balogun, also criticised the lawmaker over his comment.
A former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Chidi Odinkalu tweeted:
Some social media users also reacted to Akin Alabi’s stance on the issue.