President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday started what the Presidency described in a three-paragraph statement as a short vacation. For six days, the 73-year-old retired general would not be at his duty post.
Unlike what happened under late President Musa Yarâ€™Adua that forced the National Assembly to adopt the doctrine of necessity, Buhari did not leave a vacuum. He was said to have written to the two chambers of the National Assembly as required by law that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo would hold the fort for him while the vacation lasted.
As of the time the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, issued a statement on Friday announcing the development, Osinbajo was far away from the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The acting President was not anywhere near the Federal Capital Territory.
Osinbajo had left Abuja in the early hours of Friday for Lagos. Being a pastor in The Redeemed Christian Church of God, he has continued attending the churchâ€™s monthly vigil tagged â€˜Holy Ghost Nightâ€™ which holds every first Friday of the month inside the churchâ€™s facility, located on the popular Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, despite his status.
Ordinarily, Osinbajo normally travels to Lagos in the afternoon to enable him attend the programme which starts in the evening. But on this day, he left in the morning, apparently to attend to other engagements before the programme started in the evening. For instance, he attended the 13th Centre for Values in Leadership Annual Lecture and International Leadership Symposium in Lagos before the vigil.
The Presidential Villa was understandably deserted on Friday. Even at the Vice-Presidentâ€™s Wing, only a few aides who did not go with him to Lagos were in their offices. Immediately the news broke that the President had proceeded on leave, State House correspondents thought Osinbajo would cut short his trip to Lagos. They all gathered at his side of the Villa and waited. But when the waiting game extended into late in the evening, it became clear that the acting President would not return to the office on Friday.
Saturdayâ€™s experience was similar to that of Friday. There was no sign of life when PUNCH's correspondent visited the Vice-Presidentâ€™s Wing, except for a few security operatives who were on duty. Being a weekend, no senior officials â€”civil servants or political office holdersâ€”were seen on duty.
The situation was the same at Osinbajoâ€™s official residence, Akinola Aguda House. No visible activity was observed there when Punch visited at about 4pm, except for a soldier who was seen inside the sentry box and three operatives of the Department of State Services who were also at the gate leading to the building.
At 4.30pm, when this report was filed, Osinbajo was still being expected in Abuja. His Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, confirmed this to Punch on the telephone saying,
â€œYes, he travelled to Lagos and I can confirm to you that he is being expected back today (Saturday),â€It is expected that apart from a few meetings or consultations that may take place behind closed doors during the weekend, Osinbajo would resume work formally as the acting President on Monday.