By Ozodinukwe Okenwa
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, formally declared his intention to succeed his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari, last Monday. By so doing he had put speculations to that effect to rest. The diminutive number two citizen sounded coherent, patriotic, bold and convincing in his declaration speech. He sought to be seen as his own man. Before coming out openly to inform Nigerians of his readiness to compete and serve presidentially Osinbajo must have consulted widely. And above all, he must have sought and obtained the blessing and endorsement of the President himself.
Buhari and the Fulani cabal running the federal government on his behalf must have zeroed in on Osinbajo after the GEJ kite failed to fly. To be sure they must have concluded that Osinbajo is controllable and more loyal than the so-called National Leader of the ruling party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. The VP would definitely abide by the gentlemen agreement by not rocking the boat as it were.
The Senior Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCGG) has a couple of ‘positives’ following his political career. He is seen generally as a man of God in whom one can put their trust. He is not associated with baggages of corruption or political ‘sins’. He could be described as a ‘saint’ compared to other professional politicians, scoundrels et al, whose pasttime is looting the treasury and delivering little in terms of democracy dividends to the people.
Osinbajo’s declaration speech ‘offended’ the sensibility of some folks especially where he indicated his intention to pursue the programmes and policies of Buharism. The Buhari presidential legacy is not worth emulating or continuing for whatever reason. Osinbajo goofed by saying that he would build on the ‘great achievements’ of his boss. Where are the achievements? Abuse of power? Terrorism? Banditry? Kidnapping for ransom? Secessionist violence?
However, juxtaposed otherwise, we can understand his desperation to eulogize the President and paint him in glowing colours. The history of the Buhari underwhelming regime cannot be written without a mention or two of Osinbajo. The Vice President is practically in charge of economic issues, the initiator and distributor of paliatives to the poor and vulnerable.
Much as the Professor may have meant well by wanting to serve Nigerians at the highest level of governance the challenge before him appears daunting indeed. Unless a consensus candidate is adopted by the APC Osinbajo may not stand a chance of beating his former boss and benefactor, Asiwaju Tinubu, in the race for the presidential flagbearer of the party towards the 2023 presidential poll.
In terms of political organization, followership and popularity Osinbajo is no match to Tinubu. The former may be intellectually more grounded and professionally upright but the latter is an experienced organized politician with intimidating credentials and achievements, especially in Lagos.
Asiwaju Tinubu is far from being a paragon but he had built bridges and made contacts across the lenght and breadth of the country that if the contest, the primaries, are thrown up without manipulation or consensus nonsense no one stands a chance of defeating him. Though his baggages of corruption may play against him he would triumph at the end of the day. Whoever is not corrupt should cast the first stone!
He has the money to prosecute his ‘life-long’ ambition of becoming President. He has the grassroots mobilization team scattered across the federation. He had touched lives and shown his benevolent capacity to help friends in times of need. This demonstration of charity beyond the boundaries of religion or tribe could be said to have an egoistical tinge attached to it but it could be altruistic all the same.
By seeking the presidency, aware that Asiwaju had already declared his candidacy for the same top job, Osinbajo has put himself on a collision course with the Tinubu political machine. The well-oiled machine is desperate and efficacious cutting across boundaries and tongues. Both men may not be the same after all is said and done with the winner and loser emerging.
Asiwaju Tinubu does not look like one to be persuaded to drop his ambition in support of his former ‘godson’. And the glorified godson, sensing history and forces in his favour, may not be willing to forgo his ambition in deference to Lagos godfather. So the clash is evident and unavoidable!
If Tinubu triumphs at the primaries Osinbajo and his supporters may rally around him. But the same cannot be said with the Osinbajo victory at the primaries. Tinubu may pull out of the ruling party and seek solution from elsewhere. If that happens then the APC is sure of losing the presidential election in February next year.
But even if the two men could reach a compromise and make up before or after the primaries the APC is not sure of victory at the polls given the glaring failures of Buharism. Whoever emerges as the ruling party’s representative at the polls may find it difficult to promise anything since the promises made seven years ago by Buhari are yet to be fulfilled.
The biggest challenge to the Osinbajo presidency, with the feeling of his apparent anointment in mind, remains the Asiwaju factor. Who can reconcile both men? Who is capable of reconciling their differences? When power is concerned then to hell with the past or cult of personality!
We welcome VP Osinbajo to the race for the presidency. But we hasten to add that if he thinks succeeding his principal is a ‘walkover’ then he must pray and fast harder. Even if he succeeds in succeeding Buhari the task ahead is not only arduous but a herculean one.
The omnipotent position of President comes with enormous responsibility for the security, welfare and wellbeing of citizens. This burden of responsibility and service has been heightened by the current state of the polity characterized by severe threats to our collective existence as a people. The damage done to the system would take many years to repair.
Fixing the broken system requires leadership anchored on character and patriotism, competence and example. Sadly, Buharism has never exhibited any of these traits!
We are convinced that Prof. Osinbajo would make a good President, a better one indeed than the bumbling fumbling incumbent. Yet the challenges of our time are enormous. Nigeria needs a strong President who neither ‘loves’ God too much nor ‘hates’ Him so much! Prayer or fasting are not enough to clean the Augean stable.