2023: Osogbo’s carnival reception and leadership lessons from Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, acknowledging cheers from his teeming supporters and at his engagement with the delegates stakeholders and delegates of the Osun State APC chapter during his visit to the state on Friday, May 20, 2022. Photos: State House/Tolani Alli

By Oluwafemi Popoola

Nearly everything about Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s visit to Osogbo, the Osun State capital, was novel to many of us who are conversant with the intrigues and obvious rancorous colouration of Nigeria’s amoral politics. The mood, the message, the attitude, the stagecraft and the high tolerance exhibited by the Vice President during his interaction with the Osun All Progressives Congress (APC) delegates and stakeholders during his recent visit are qualities one can hardly find in the life of an average Nigerian politician.

The Vice President, Prof Osinbajo, visited the state on Friday, May 20, 2022, as part of his ongoing nationwide consultations with APC stakeholders and delegates, to solicit their support to win the forthcoming presidential primary of the APC slated for May 29 of this year.

Being the home base of his closest rival, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, one could say some of the delegates who may be in solidarity with him had taken a position. Hence, his visit to Osun maybe like the lion cubs who proudly identify with the lion’s mother. A few of Asiwaju’s supporters even appeared and advertised their identity at the venue of Osinbajo’s meeting with delegates.

The insignia on their caps was that of the former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Tinubu, another high ranking APC presidential hopeful after VP Osinbajo. The Osun State governor too, Isiaka Gboyega Oyetola, is known to be Tinubu’s cousin. While some adorned this insignia on their head (cap), others displayed it with their full chest (Tops and Kaftans). But, politically, this is well understood, since how else would a supposedly Tinubu fan who is deep down an Osinbajo enthusiast relate with the VP Openly if not to balance it that way? Since they wouldn’t want their contract terminated at the Bourdillon.

Yet, we can’t rule out that some recalcitrant Asiwaju loyalists might have turned up ways to create scenes to please their master. But as loud as they tried to make their statements known, it wasn’t loud enough to instil any iota of fear as the VP remained cool, calm and collected. They tried to roar but it could not march the sound of a kitten. Osinbajo appeared to be more prepared for their scheming. In his usual charisma, like the Biblical Daniel, a replica who is the Osinbajo of our time, domesticated the den of many lions. He made them look like a stranger in their home.

He said: “You all know why I’m here. The reason for my being here is because I have put myself forward as a presidential aspirant. I have served for eight years in government and I understand what it takes to govern this country. I have the knowledge, understanding, and experience to govern this country. I can hit the ground running from day one if I become the President of Nigeria. Everybody in government knows that it takes even a governor up to one year to understand the nitty-gritty of government.”

ALSO READ: Osinbajo’s visit turns carnival in Osogbo as jubilant residents hail VP ‘Incoming President’

At the end of the interactive session with the Vice President, the delegates were stunned and humbled by the VP’s endearing personality and his display of Omoluabi’s ethos. The meeting was a turning point. The VP had done what he knows how to do best; that is, being able to speak to the conscience of the people. Osinbajo laid bare his ideas and plans for the country fluently without any ambiguity. After the meeting, Osinbajo welcomed everyone and embraced them, while they all took turns in photo ops with him. Politics without bitterness was on full display.

In the end, some of those who purportedly appeared as Tinubu’s fans, wearing Asiwaju’s regalia at an Osinbajo’s show, testified of the Vice President Osinbajo’s large heart and exemplary leadership. Read one given his testimony: “Osinbajo saw Asiwaju’s cap on us and still allowed us to take pictures with him, no doubt he’s a leader and a realist.” This, of course, must either be a fundamental devotee having his past time in Asiwaju’s camp or a repentant delegate.

Outside the venue of the programme, it was like a jamboree. Thousands of the residents had taken to the streets in large numbers to welcome the Vice President with rousing fanfare and jubilation.

Osinbajo’s arrival threw the entire state into a carnival mood as the excited residents launched into a resounding rendition of words like “Incoming President…” at the sight of the sprightly 65-year-old, singing and dancing to sonorous drum beats, likewise displaying campaign posters with fanfare.

The screams of the adoring crowd could drown out a jet plane. An unbridled joy that I can only compare to when Nigeria got her independence from colonial rule.

To win the Presidency, Osinbajo knew he would have to pull together a coalition of voters from across Nigeria’s cultural and political divide and those disaffected by the present government. Osinbajo showed the Osun delegates he is the kind of leader who won’t treat the opposition with disdain. Nigerians have so long been worried about a political divide that looks like an unbridgeable chasm. The morals of our country need to be rekindled. But here is a leader who is like a break from the norm. He is truly a unifier. The VP showcased, at the event, an amount of grace and likeability that leaves no doubt about the strength of his character.

As a role model, Osinbajo is reinforcing new hopes in the body politic, millions of Nigerian young people collectively have applauded his credibility and reliability as a leader, and much more, his example has shown that by having productive and inspiring leaders in power, Nigeria won’t only be good for it, there will be value-added in successive leadership. Nigeria is now witnessing a new dawn VP Osinbajo’s leadership skills have caused to be born.