Osinbajo: Between Portraits of Patriots’ inclusion and APC Campaign Council’s exclusion

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, attending to official engagements in his office. Photo: State House/Tolani Alli

By Oluwafemi Popoola

From the moment the throngs of efforts to get the flag bearer of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to change his contentious Muslim-Muslim ticket failed, the die was cast and the VP Yemi Osinbajo’s omission from the list of the campaign team for 2023 election was inevitable. So, to many of us and other keen observers of the VP’s personality and his political history, his recent omission from the APC campaign council list was no surprise. It had been presaged a long time ago.

There is no doubt that the Vice President is a political ally of Tinubu. He had served the latter as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice when he was Lagos State governor. The duo might have slugged it out in a face-off during the APC presidential primary election but both are still bound together by a strong sense of collegiality that has spanned for many years. Asiwaju Tinubu won the presidential primary election contest and the Vice President congratulated him saying his sterling contributions to democracy stood him out.

During Osinbajo’s visit to the campaign office of The Progressive Project (TPP), a coalition of support groups that backed him for the presidency, the Vice President went further and also said that he would support Bola Tinubu, who was declared the flag bearer of the APC for the 2023 presidential election.

There was no sign that the VP would not go all out for the party’s presidential candidate. And then there were fears Tinubu might opt for a Muslim running mate. However, Osinbajo was said to have advised against such an arrangement. Some presidency sources even quoted him to have expressed serious objection to the adoption of the ticket saying “such an adoption would not augur well both for the party and the country.”

This has been his position since 2014 before the APC came to power, which was a winning formula he suggested for the party’s leadership based on the principle of social justice for religion balancing and what has been the practice pre-2015 elections. Recalled Tinubu had wanted to be a running mate to President Muhammadu Buhari, but he wasn’t favoured as Buhari who had lost presidential elections three times before 2015 was said to have been opposed to the Muslim-Muslim ticket, so, it won’t again affect his chances.

So, when the list of the Campaign Council members was officially released, it was all certain the VP would not make the list. Osinbajo couldn’t have been on the list because its composition is obviously against his values as a just, straight and transparent leader. This is the man that has spent most of his adult years on the principle of integrity. And he once admitted that what propelled him into government are his virtues of integrity, transparency, and social justice.

Addressing the Harvard School students who recently paid him a visit in his office, VP Osinbajo spoke on why he values transparency and social justice.

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He said, “For me, spirituality connotes values. I came into government with values about what I think is important, especially around transparency, social justice among others. You are almost always a product of the values you believe in. Fortunately, a lot of these values cut across different faiths, they are not necessarily restricted to religion or one faith”

“Just looking at these values, there is a great deal of unanimity about what is the right thing to do. The question is whether or not you will do those things, or whether you are motivated enough to do them, or whether you are compelled to do them.”

The VP’s exclusion from the APC’s campaign team is strictly based on his firm opposition to the APC’s contentious Muslim-Muslim ticket that has generated fierce controversy in the public. To Osinbajo, it is a matter of decency, and social justice he is known to stand for. He is not meant for that kind of a Campaign Council ordinarily, because of its defective ticket, defaulting on social justice grounds as criticised by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), and the Northern Christian members of the ruling APC led by former Speaker Yakubu Dogara and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal.

Even, when he was not thinking of being a Vice President, but as a loyal party man, working for the APC and national interests, in 2015 before his eventual divine selection to be Buhari’s running mate, it was rumoured he had said pointedly in a meeting that there was no way he would defend a Muslim-Muslim ticket in good conscience. And up till now, the VP’s belief has remained firm, resolute and unshaken. He has always been an advocate of fairness, equity, religious balance and justice.

But while we, unsurprisingly, couldn’t find the name of Nigeria’s second in command in the APC 422-man list of the 2023 campaign team that has names of political heavyweights including APC governors, ministers, lawmakers, as well as serving and past public office holders, Osinbajo’s name was captured in the prestigious list of 100 Nigeria’s foremost thought leaders codenamed “the Portraits of Patriots.”

The biographical compendium profiles Nigerians who have put the country first above personal considerations, ethnic leanings, political affiliations, and every other selfish ambition which often tends to limit the vision of many others.

Others who made the list include Aliko Dangote, Babagana Zulum, Peter Obi, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Amina Mohammed, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, Prof Bolaji Akinyemi, and others.

The compendium, which will be unveiled on October 1st of this year, basically identifies and points to Nigerians that possess the capacity to help birth a new Nigeria.

According to the editors of the project, they noted that the shortlisted Nigerians are people “who are daily sacrificing in their corners either as thought leaders in the areas of business, public service, civil society, faith, among others, towards building a united, prosperous and indivisible country.

“Such inspirational value is judged by their level of patriotism defined by how much they put Nigeria first. These are people who, by their actions, put Nigeria above personal and sectional considerations. They are committed to the greatness of the country and are working towards ensuring that the country becomes what its founding fathers envisioned it be,” they added.

I want to congratulate Vice President Osinbajo and others for being listed in that prestigious book of records. They all deserve to be recognized. All of them have done exceedingly well by contributing greatly to the progress of Nigeria through their respective callings.

For Vice President Osinbajo, it is a reward for his selfless service to the nation and humanity. Being the country’s Vice President, he has engraved his name in the country’s Hall of Fame given his landmark contributions to government. He has fought a good fight. He has kept his cool. He has served his country with love and pride and his integrity remains unsullied even in the midst of the dirtiest of politics. Prof Osinbajo’s compassion for the poor masses was neither godfathered nor his intentions for a new Nigeria political, he is simply driven by an intense empathy and unadulterated love for the Nigerian people. Vice President Osinbajo is indeed a patriot.

• Popoola, is a political analyst, content analyser and news aggregator. He can be reached via bromeo2013@gmail.com