Osinbajo’s 2023 ambition: Loyalty to nation not betrayal

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo acknowledges cheers from the crowd of people who gathered to welcome him during his visit to Ogun State on Tuesday, April 26, 2022. Photo: State House/Tolani Alli

By Mayowa Olaniyan

As the race to the 2023 presidential election gathers momentum, so are the intrigues leading it. Political actors are putting finishing touches to their theatrical skills. All is getting set for a show we have never seen before. It might even end up becoming a blockbuster.

From promises to revelation, we won’t be spared one daily. Accusations and counter-accusations will soon take over the airwaves like signals and frequencies. Like an overheated kitchen, most of the political cooks may end up becoming broth.

Now that the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has officially declared his intention to vie for the highest office in the land, his aspiration as expected is already raising dust in the political field. The reason for this is not far-fetched. Former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is the National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), is also interested in the nation’s number one top job.

While the aspirations of these two individuals have been seen as a welcome development for political analysts all over the country, their supporters are seeing it from a different angle. Osinbajo and Tinubu belong to the same political family and not even their supporters have the moral right to put asunder what has been joined together over two decades ago.

The narratives of “treachery and betrayal” have been the tool mostly used by people in the camp of the former Governor of Lagos State against the Vice President. Whatever their ground for these narratives leaves much to be desired. They should rather expend that energy more on projecting the strength and achievements of their aspirants.

That Osinbajo suddenly becomes the traitor and villain following his recent declaration of interest to run for Nigeria’s President in 2023 because his former principal, Asiwaju Tinubu is also interested in the same position not only sounds so undemocratic but ridiculous and too petty.

If we must ask those campaigning for the Lion of Bourdillon, is the Aso Rock seat an exclusive preserve for their candidate? If their answer is yes. Do we run a monarchical government in Nigeria? Or is Tinubu a Prince and heir apparent of Aso Villa? If Osinbajo is convinced he has the solutions to the problems of Nigeria why shouldn’t he be given an equal chance alongside others to vie for the office?

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Nigerians, sometimes, will never cease to amaze themselves, saying Tinubu made Osinbajo the Vice President is quite unfortunate for a nation that prides itself as the giant of Africa. The Nigerian people, not Tinubu made Osinbajo the Vice President. He proved himself a worthy candidate during the campaigns and Nigerians deemed him fit to be our Vice President alongside his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari.

On the question of betrayal and treachery, those chanting these words need to be taken back to history so they can be reminded of how their leader gained the political prominence he is enjoying today. They need to be told the story of how the late Chief Dapo Sarumi (God rests his soul) and his Primrose Group in the then Lagos Social Democratic Party (SDP) helped their Bola Tinubu to become the Senator representing Lagos West in the botched 3rd Republic in the early 1990s.

They also need to be told how Asiwaju contested against and defeated that same Chief Sarumi in the 1999 governorship election. If they call Osinbajo a betrayal today for aiming to contest against their leader in the APC then they shouldn’t be too blind to see the Judas in Tinubu during this said period. He contested against his lewder too, which is nothing to bother oneself about if he was qualified to vie for that office then and he was wanted by the people.

As a student of political history, I also read of how Chief Bola Ige contested the 1979 governorship nomination of the United Party of Nigeria (UPN) against Pa Emmanuel Alayande, who happened to be the candidate of his leader and mentor, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

Awolowo never had issues with Bola Ige but supported Ige after his candidate was defeated in the primaries.

I will rather advise the supporters of Asiwaju to rethink their strategy as these blackmail tactics won’t work. Osinbajo’s loyalty lies with the Constitution he has sworn to uphold, to the Nigerian people and to his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari, who has equally testified to his faithfulness at different occasions, which is the real and democratic virtue needed. Anything outside this is fake. But the Osinbajo we know is a true patriot, let them be living their fake life! But if Osinbajo has failed in his loyalty to these three entities, then he can be tagged a betrayal of whatever kind. But he has not failed. Osinbajo is not a betrayal.

Nigeria needs its best hand to manage its affairs post-2023. If that hand is Osinbajo’s so be it. If he is convinced he has that Midas touch then may God help him. Nigerians will not subject their future for the next four to eight years to a political reward system or some entitlement mentality of just a very few Nigerians. Anyone interested in leading us should give solid reasons why he or she is qualified. This is a matter of elections, not a coronation. May Nigeria prevail.

Olaniyan is a researcher and public affairs analyst.