News from Aso Rock, Nigeria's seat of government

The current vacation embarked upon by President Muhammadu Buhari has led to a drastic reduction in activities at the Presidential Villa, Abuja,Saturday PUNCH can confirm.

The most hit is the President’s wing of the government area in the Three Arms Zone district of the Federal Capital Territory.

Buhari had recently departed Nigeria for London, United Kingdom, after writing the National Assembly that he would proceed on a short vacation and resume on February 6.

Immediately after Buhari’s departure, activities in the President’s wing came to a halt.

Some actions shifted to the Vice-President’s Wing from where Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has been calling the shots.

Security agents were however still seen manning their beats around the President’s office.

Even the Press Gallery located beside the Council Chambers in the President’s wing was deserted as State House correspondents relocated to the Vice-President’s side.

Less than 24 hours after Buhari’s departure, the population of worshippers who took part in Jumat prayers at the mosque located beside the President’s office reduced drastically.

A similar scenario played out last Friday. Most of the worshippers were insiders.

The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali; Director-General of the Department of State Service, Lawan Daura; and the Permanent Secretary, State House, Jalal Arabi, were the only senior government officials who attended the Jumat service.

They were joined by other civil servants attached to the Presidential Villa.

The President had on June 26, 2015, stopped taking part in Jumat service at the National Mosque, Abuja and opted to do so inside the Presidential Villa.

He had said he took the decision out of consideration for the hardships always imposed on members of the public by road closures during presidential movements.

Since then, top government officials and prominent politicians including members and leaders of the National Assembly had been joining him for prayers.

Our correspondent also learnt that attendance at daily prayers in the mosque reduced drastically while the President was away.

“The number of people attending prayers in the mosque now is about one-third of the usual population. There are now vacant spaces everywhere in the mosque,” a worshipper toldSaturday PUNCH on Friday.

Our correspondent also observed that most politicians, especially state governors, have kept off the villa unlike what is usually obtainable when Buhari is around.

Since Buhari went on vacation, only four state governors were sighted at the Presidential Villa.

The governors are Rochas Okorocha (Imo); Samuel Ortom (Benue); Abdulazeez Yari (Zamfara); and Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa).

“One cannot really say for sure why the governors kept off but I know some of them will not want to be caught in the web of loyalty. Their visiting the Acting President may be misconstrued to mean that they are more loyal to him than the President,” a government official, who pleaded anonymity, told our correspondent.

Although civil servants were going about their duties normally, most political appointees, including presidential aides also stayed away from their offices for the better part of the vacation.

Our correspondent learnt that on the permission of the President, the political appointees also used the opportunity to embark on a short vacation.

There is the general belief that normalcy will return on Monday when Buhari is expected to return to work.

 

 

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