For many Nigerians, Mr. Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, erudite professor of law, eminent senior advocate of Nigeria and pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God cuts the image of a man whose hands are fettered by the knotty ropes of Nigeria`s challenges which have taken on a malevolent edge since Mr. Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress assumed power in 2015.
For many other Nigerians, his vice presidency in an administration that has drawn perhaps more flaks than any other in the history of Nigeria has become a long stick with which to beat him. Don`t birds of identical plumage flock together, many ask.
The administration of which Mr. Yemi Osinbajo is such a core cog is well into its seventh year and though it cannot count as the seventh wonder of the political world, there have been marvels; miracles have been worked in many sectors.
Agriculture has been given a boost; the anti-corruption war has blossomed sending some hitherto sacred cows to the slaughter house; some of Nigeria`s most vulnerable citizens have been given lifelines through microcredit schemes; the school feeding scheme has kept many of children in classrooms where they eat, learn and grow. The crowning jewel of the achievements of the current administration would seem to be that many of the holes through which the contents of the public purse used to leak unaccountably away have been plugged, much to the chagrin of many who fattened only themselves and their cronies on the hay meant for all Nigerians.
But it has been an administration of two extremes with Nigerians unable to find common middle ground. Remarkable achievements across multiple sectors have been offset by the ruinous disintegration in many other areas.
Today, in many states in Northern Nigeria, when children run, it is not because they are playing hide and seek and having fun, but it is because the terrorists who specialize in reducing villages to rubbles are coming. Insecurity has become so widespread that even when one wills the eyes to close in sleep, the eyes snap open on their own and refuse to close.
Security woes are amplified by the rising costs of goods and services which have seen the income of the average Nigerian family completely wiped out.
As Nigerians lick their wounds, they blame Mr. Muhammadu Buhari and his government for all their woes. This is right as uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. But whether it is right is another question given the clan of hyenas the Peoples Democratic Party had in the corridors of power for sixteen years and the culture of plunder they created.
On Monday 11th April, 2022, Mr. Yemi Osinbajo declared his intention to contest for the presidency in the general elections of 2023. The declaration which was lavish with promises of a better Nigeria however upset many when the Vice President said that if elected, he would continue from wherever the current administration stops.
Mr. Osinbajo divides opinions among Nigerians. Nigerians remember a certain pause in the life of the current administration when Mr. Buhari was away on one of his many medical trips abroad and Mr. Osinbajo was put in charge. Many Nigerians remember it as perhaps the only purple patch across the seven years during which it has seemed that there have been concerted efforts to take Nigeria to a parched land where there is no water.
Many also think that Mr. Osinbajo has been part of the malaise eating up the current administration. They blame him for his silence and inaction, arguing that he should have resigned long ago – as if Nigerian public officers ever resign for failing in office or when they become embroiled in scandals.
Mr. Osinbajo may genuinely wish to take Nigeria forward as from 2023 but truth is that a people whose vision has been impaired by the below par performance of an administration in which he has been such a key figure will struggle to see the wood for the trees. For this reason, Mr. Osinbajo`s declarations would seem to have risen from such unflattering company. And like all the fingers in a hand invariably get stained once any of them has been dipped in oil, the Vice President appears stained by association, the many remarkable achievements of the current administration notwithstanding.
The Vice President may breathe hope, but on his campaign trail, he will carry the bag of all the failures – perceived or real – of the administration he has served diligently and with quiet dignity for the last seven years. Nigerians will remember him as part of a government under which the slaughter of many innocent Nigerians went without response. Wherever he goes, a people whose psyche has been conditioned by loss and lamentation will remind him of every promise that his government has not kept in the past seven years.
He appears a thoroughly decent man, a man whose extraordinary heart has been shaped by the law and the Lord. Yet, having ventured into the treacherous trenches of Nigerian politics where even lambs grow long, sharp teeth overnight, under a party that grades gifts as highly as it does gaffes, Mr. Osinbajo faces an uphill task to convince Nigerians that his ticket is not tainted by the treachery and drudgery of those he has called his political family for the last seven years.
Goodluck Mr. Osinbajo!