AMID DISSENSION AND BITTERNESS, already existing in Bola Tinubu’s camp, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC; and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s camp, also, of the ruling APC; on the presidential ambition of both eminent sons of Nigeria’s southwest politics, ahead of 2023, general election; vice president Osinbajo, on Monday, April 11, 2022, released a recorded video, officially, announcing that he will be contesting for the presidential ticket of the ruling party, after months of speculation and denial. This means Osinbajo will be taking on Bola Tinubu, his godfather and kingmaker, who had earlier declared his intention to contest for the APC presidential ticket.
The strength of both candidates, is that one is a political kingmaker and godfather, Tinubu. Osinbajo is seen as a vast political beneficiary from the kingmaker and godfather – godson, in his political career, so far. To many in Bola Tinubu’s camp, Osinbajo’s interest or declaration to contest the presidential ticket with Tinubu, within the ruling APC, would be an affront and a betrayal, meant to scuttle Tinubu’s ambition of becoming Nigeria’s next president. A long time “dream” Tinubu said he has nursed.
Osinbajo served under Tinubu’s two terms tenure as governor of Lagos State – 1999 to 2007, as Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice. When the need arose in APC, ahead of 2015 general election, to give Buhari the choice of a “trusted” and “loyal” vice presidential candidate from the southwest, again, Bola Tinubu was on hand. He picked Yemi Osinbajo as running mate for Buhari. Osinbajo has proven to be such a loyal and trusted vice president in Buhari’s administration.
After series of speculations and denials from Osinbajo’s camp about his presidential ambition, Tinubu’s ardent political admirers, see Osinbajo’s eventual declaration, to face Tinubu in the race for the presidential ticket, as huge “ingratitude, affront” and “betrayal”. When it was rumoured that Osinbajo was nursing such an ambition, emotion and passion flared with bitterness and name calling. The heat, already turned-on, may now burn with furnace. The battle-line is drawn, with Osinbajo’s official declaration.
Now it is real. Osinbajo will take on Tinubu, face-to-face, in the race to pick the presidential ticket of the ruling party for the 2023 presidency. He will, also, take-on other candidates in the ruling party from Nigeria’s middle belt region – Yahaya Bello, Governor of Kogi State. From the southeast, Rochas Okorocha, former Governor of Imo State and a serving Senator; Orji Uzor Kalu, former Governor of Abia State and a serving Senator, and David Umahi, Governor of Ebonyi State. From south-south Rotimi Amachi, former Governor of Rivers State and Minister of Transportation; Ben Ayade, Governor of Cross River State; among others who have announced their interest ahead of Osinbajo.
Is Osinbajo intoxicated for power? Some analysts say, he does not look like an intoxicated politician for power. They believe, he must have been, consistently, pressured by ambitious political power mongers. Persons who are intoxicated for power; and who believe in the “stab-and-grab power” politics in Nigeria. And who do not listen to the piercing voice of history of power politics. Hence, Osinbajo’s delay in announcing his presidential ambition. Each time speculations were rife that Osinbajo was nursing presidential ambition, his spokesman, promptly, countered it.
IRONICALLY, THE SAME “stab-and-grab power” politics, in Nigeria, brought APC and Buhari to power in 2015. Three major opposition political parties – Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN; Congress for Progressive Change, CPC; All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP; and a faction of All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, merged, with no clear political ideology and leadership vision for the country, but just to grab power. The power grabbers, after seven years in office, have left the country in a terrible state of anarchy and disrepair.
Today, Nigeria’s corporate existence, that has been, painstakingly, patched together for many years of its nationhood, through mutual understanding, adjustments and forbearing; and the price of national unity, which has been the readiness for compromise; readiness to listen to the views and feelings of various regions of the country and the heartbeat of the nation; these costly sacrifices have been compromised and ambushed by the politics of power grabbing. And the country is, presently, utterly fragmented and in want of life.
Seven years into Buhari’s leadership, and in the last days of his administration, voices of decent across Nigeria and outside the country, have left no sector untouched on the failures of his government. Ranging from inept leadership; crushing national insecurity; tumbling economy; a divided country across ethnic, tribal, religious and regional lines; skyrocketing inflation; impoverished citizenry; rising unemployment and restiveness; collapse national currency; looming food insecurity; gradual collapse of industries; collapse of electricity supply, and so on.
Nigeria, presently, is in a precarious situation. Buhari’s government has no answers or solution to the myriad of challenges the country is facing. Olusegun Obasanjo, former Nigerian president, recently, summed it up. He stated that Buhari’s government has become “overwhelmed” – making reference to insecurity and the bomb attack on Kaduna-bound train recently. Obasanjo was speaking during the visit of Ugochukwu Williams, a 2023 presidential candidate, on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party PDP, to his Presidential Library, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
THE LESSON OF POWER, raises question of what Osinbajo will be doing differently, from the political programme of his boss, President Buhari and ruling APC, if he becomes president. Osinbajo would have been vice president for eight years, at the time Buhari exit office in May 29, 2023. He believed, contributed immensely to the policies, programme and actions of Buhari’s administration. Often, Osinbajo eulogizes and describes Buhari as a national patriot – the best leader Nigeria ever had, over and above Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikiwe.
Will Osinbajo continue with Buhari’s programme, known to have recorded colossal failures in all sector of Nigeria’s national life, if he becomes president? Or draw up his own programme? As an influential part of Buhari’s team, what will Osinbajo leverage as selling point to the electorates? How successful will he endear the people? Political analysts believe Osinbajo should have known better. In Nigeria’s brand of politics, however, anything goes, analysts noted.
Others believe, it is Osinbajo constitutional right to seek the highest political office in the country. But in reality, he faces formidable political and financial “war chest” of his godfather and kingmaker, Tinubu. Will he enjoy and goodwill and support of the southwest politics? Does he have the political structure to stand Tinubu? Tinubu is known, to have the political structure of the southwest in his palm. He is seen as a political heavyweight in the region. He, also, commands a measure of political influence in Nigeria’s northern region.
Then the finance to run a presidential race. Can Osinbajo stand Tinubu’s “Bullion Vans”? No one knowns, for sure. What is known, for sure, is that Osinbajo has an uphill task engaging his political godfather in a “political war”. If Osinbajo fails to outwit Tinubu, he would have ended his political career in the southwest. He either returns to the classroom, or undertakes other future endeavour. If he succeeds, then he becomes a politician of records in southwest – as vice president for eight years, and as president of the federal republic of Nigeria.