Nseobong Okon-Ekong writes that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo understands the challenges and demands of the office of President of Nigeria and has acquired the depth of on-the-job-training and preparedness to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari
Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s Vice President can be the president all Nigerians clamour for come 2023; and he will work for everyone, including those who think he is not deserving. There are many likely aspirants, like the accomplished businessman, Mr. Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, who holds such a promise. The imperative for a president who is totally devoid of sectional interests has never been so paramount.
Mr. Osinbajo has worked very closely, almost without rancour with President Muhammadu Buhari, except for instances of misunderstanding contrived to benefit those who do not wish him to succeed the president. For now, it may be said that the Vice President has no personal agenda beyond carrying out assigned roles and giving unalloyed support to his principal. His loyalty brings to mind the years of distrust and the divided presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar. The expectation of the Nigerian public on what qualities the next president of Nigeria should possess is squarely captured in Osinbajo. He understands the challenges and demands of the office. Arguably, no Vice president has acquired the depth of on-the-job-training and preparedness. He is well suited to the demands of the office.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has experienced a lot of skirmishes over the bid to control the party. These unpremeditated fighting has led to unhealthy cleavages that threatens to severe the cord of unity within the party. Osinbajo can be that fine thread that completely sews and restores the tattered fabric of the APC.
Inside of him is a huge capacity for compassion and decency. A President Osinbajo would have a bold respect for the rule of law, not because he is a professor of law and a preacher of the gospel whose moral compass has been unwavering on the path of rectitude, but he has demonstrated over time that he strives for excellence without compromise. No doubt public confidence in democratic institutions will be restored. With Osinbajo on the saddle there would a swing back to the era of regard for professionalism in government. It can almost be taken for granted that competence will form the basis of call to service in his administration. Nigeria and Nigerians will experience a new lease of life and pride in their nation as Osinbajo deploys every possible method to address injustices to aggrieved sections of the country in a bid to put the nation first.
It is clear that Osinbajo would be guided by his famous statement. “As I repeated many times during the course of the campaign that our country is not short of ideas, we are not short of projects; we are not short of money either; what we are short of is integrity in office.”
Mr. Osinbajo recommends himself for not dealing treacherously with two of the most powerful figures, not only in the APC, but in the country. He served as Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice under Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu as Governor of Lagos State. For his dedication, Tinubu had no reservation in putting him forward when it became clear that Nigerians would not accept his bid to pair Buhari as running mate; mainly because of the religious sensitivity of Muslim-Muslim ticket. Since 2015, Osinbajo has largely remained where the lines are defined for him; not overtly ambitious to attempt a crossover into needless controversies. Therefore, Buhari has enjoyed a relatively peaceful presidency, assured that his deputy is a gentleman to the core.
As president, Osinbajo will certainly be under some sort of pressure from Tinubu directly or remotely from his supporters. The demand on him will be to show gratitude at all times to the man who God used to pave the way for him to reach the pinnacle of governance in Nigeria. But what many including Abuja-based lawyer, Kayode Ajulo who have started to rally friends and associates of the Vice President into a potential political pressure group, first within, the APC, and later with the mandate to reach farther in the larger society, believe that Osinbajo can be trusted to keep the ship of state on an even keel. The Ajulo train for Osinbajo is anchored on continuity, competence, experience, stability, charisma and zoning. “My support for Osinbajo is based on principles over politics,” he said.
To date, it may be argued that most successful Minister of Finance in Nigeria was Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who was a lawyer, journalist and thinker. Osinbajo headed Nigeria’s economic team at a most critical period under the Buhari presidency. His economic recovery plan as Chairman of the National Economic Council (NEC) is still the structure on which some of the current policies are being run.
His record of accomplishments has almost been indelible until the mud that was splashed on his reputation owing contrived complicity in the Tunde Fowler alleged corruption case at the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). It was alleged that the Vice President took N90 billion from the FIRS to fund the 2019 elections. Soon another allegation of corruption against Osinbajo emerged from the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He was mentioned in the N5.8 billion National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) scandal. The Vice President was also unfortunately tied to an unsavoury report by a notorious online publisher that linked him to corrupt receipt of money from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu. In all these instances, the allegations died naturally because they were without substance. It is noteworthy that at no time did President Buhari show displeasure of the conduct of the Vice President. At this juncture, it becomes necessary to recall the testimony of a renowned Professor of Law, Itse Sagay. On Osinbajo, he said, “The Vice President is an incorruptible man of God, a man of high moral standing who is as clean as a whistle. He will not appropriate any money that doesn’t belong to him to himself.”
Supposing the APC permutation favours him and he goes on to win the general election, Mr. Osinbajo will also do very well in foreign relations. Like his mentor in politics, Osinbajo has an uncanny gift to assemble the right team of men and women that can buld bridges over troubled waters in all spheres. The questions will be tough on all counts and Nigerians will want quick, almost magical results, but the Vice President has the level-headedness to pilot Nigeria into her avowed destiny of admirable greatness.
Before Nigerians are offered the choice between Osinbajo and others, the APC must do the country the favour of bringing him forward and availing him with the best support available to triumph in the 2023 presidential election.
It would be wrong to say here that Osinbajo has no flaws. There is no such human being. What is possible is that if he emerges as the APC presidential candidate, he has the capacity to shepherd Nigerians to realise their God-given potentials in all fields.
Nigeria and Nigerians will experience a new lease of life and pride in their nation as Osinbajo deploys every possible method to address injustices to aggrieved sections of the country in a bid to put the nation first. It is clear that Osinbajo would be guided by his famous statement. “As I repeated many times during the course of the campaign that our country is not short of ideas, we are not short of projects; we are not short of money either; what we are short of is integrity in office.