2023: Tinubu/Osinbajo and the Mentor, Mentee Conundrum by Ayo Akinyemi

2023: Tinubu/Osinbajo and the Mentor, Mentee Conundrum by Ayo Akinyemi

Editor's note: Political affairs analyst, Ayo Akinyemi, writes on the purported presidential ambition of Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN arguing that those who equate the rumoured ambition of the vice president to betraying his former principal, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, are completely out of line.

In whispers, it is whistling. In hush tones, it is shrieking. It is roaring in the rumour hemisphere that the incumbent vice president, Professor Yemi Osibajo, SAN, GCON, desires to be a presidential candidate in 2023. Although he is yet to declare pointedly, his interest in the coveted position, the vibrations are too piercing and sonorous to ignore.

Yes, the lion himself is yet to roar, one can say boldly, without any tint of equivocation, that Professor Yemi Osinbajo has the inalienable right to nurse the ambition or desire. In a more developed and saner clime, having been vice president, for two terms under the incumbent president, he deserves the offer of the first refusal.

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Ayo Akinyemi says the rumoured presidential ambition of VP Osinbajo is in order. Photo credit: Sodiq Adelakun/AFP
Source: Getty Images

Expectedly, counter-voices and counter-forces who have aggregated the silence of Osinbajo on the burning issue as acquiescence, have been querying the morality of the vice president eyeing the seat of president in 2023 - a position which his 'mentor' and former principal, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has declared an undisguised interest.

Is the brouhaha over the moral justification of Osinbajo aspiration - with the open declaration by Tinubu, of a "lifelong ambition" to be the president of Nigeria - justified, viewed through the glass prism of objectivity with untainted spectacle?

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It may sound uncharitable or reek of trappings of ingratitude, to employ sophistry or explore semantics in the appraisal of a mentor and mentee in the relationship between Tinubu and Osinbajo.

In the plain, simple, elementary definition of the word - mentor, is the former governor of Lagos state a mentor to Osinbajo? Is the vice president in the same context, a mentee of Tinubu?

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The indisputable fact, without any tint of ambiguity, is that, in his capacity as governor of Lagos state, Tinubu appointed Osinbajo as Attorney General and commissioner for justice, in his cabinet, for eight years. It was an opportunity that exposed Osinbajo to the inner workings of government. It opened his eyes to the intricacies of governance, intrigues embedded in partisan politics and complexities involved in keeping the machinery of government in motion. Sincerely, it was a priceless experience, not obtainable in books, a practical experience beyond the confines of university walls.

Encompassed in the governor/commissioner relationship of the twosome, are elements of mutual respect, that recognises the superior in the enterprise, and symbiotic benefits.

Tinubu as an embodiment of superlative characteristics, cannot by himself alone be an excellent state governor. He needs others, who are also endowed and capable - in their own rights - in his cabinet, to actualise his dreams, vision and mission in government. To make a success of the onerous assignment as governor.

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One uncommon virtue that stands Tinubu out of the pack, is the divine grace to be able to identify and assemble worthy men of quality into his team. The bottom line therefore is: One has to be outstanding, brilliant, knowledgeable, thorough, meticulous, articulate and in totality, highly cerebral, to qualify for a place in the inner chambers of Tinubu.

It boils down to the fact that ab initio, in the estimation of Tinubu in 1999, Osinbajo (with his fascinating and intimidating credentials) was PRIMA FACIE QUALIFIED to occupy a seat in the inner chambers of his administration.

And, to the glory of God, Osinbajo proved his mettle, as a professional, as an egg-head in jurisprudence. To his eternal credit is the landmark judgement by the Supreme Court of Nigeria on the management and control of local governments funds, in the case between Lagos state government and the federal government, following the creation of new local governments in Lagos state by the Tinubu administration and subsequent seizure of revenue allocation from the federation account to Lagos local governments by the Obasanjo-led federal government.

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In totality, Osinbajo justified the confidence reposed in him, from outset, by his principal, whom he served diligently with passion, with absolute, unflinching loyalty, in his eight years as commissioner in his cabinet, and in subsequent years, as one of the dependable and reliable brains in his think-tank. Those equating the desire of Osinbajo to throw his hat into the ring to contest the 2023 presidency as betrayal or disloyalty to Tinubu, his former principal, who is equally interested in the ticket, should find something else to say.

Advocates, propagators and ventilators of hate against Osinbajo, putting a wedge of disharmony between him and his respected, adored benefactor, should put themselves in the vice president's orbit. What would they have done in the circumstance?

As for Tinubu, he should raise his head high, and feel fulfilled that one of his boys has grown enough to rub shoulders with him, with due respect. The sky is wide enough for all birds of different shades, shapes, colours and sizes to fly without any hindrance, without collision.

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