Editor's note: Oluwafemi Popoola, a political analyst and news aggregator writes on the recent 2023 presidential declaration of Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and what it means for Nigeria's political landscape going forward, especially as the elections draw near.
Let me begin by commending the vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, for his historic announcement of interest to lead the country after the tenure of his boss. It was a victory at last for the teeming Nigerian population. The repeated calls made by people for him to take up the task were indefatigable and consistent and Osinbajo responded by finally succumbing to the peoples' clamour to pick up an interest in the 2023 presidency.
The VP's Monday, April 12, 2022, acceptance speech was a defining moment in our national life as we move closer to another electoral circle. His declaration of interest in the most coveted office of the land reflects the depth of his loyalty to the Nigerian people. His love for the masses was made manifest in the tone of his speech when he recalled how he shared in the everyday burden of an average Nigerian during his close to 7-year stewardship.
Before his declaration, there were numerous narratives, claims, and commentaries especially from Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu's camps, hinting at why the vice president should not go head to head with his former boss. The argument was that the emergence and prominence of Osinbajo today in the national arena was powered by the political machinery of Tinubu, a former Lagos state governor, who served when the law professor equally served as Attorney General and commissioner for justice, in his government between 1999 to 2007.
To them, Tinubu's presidential ambition shouldn't be met with any resistance since he is the leader and mentor, while the vice president is adjudged to be the mentee, benefactor and a beneficiary whose life's ambition must be hibernated so as to escape being tagged a betrayal, double-crosser or a back bitter.
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Anything short of that to Asiwaju's foot soldiers is synonymous with "biting the finger of the benefactor." Osinbajo was expected to be loyal to Asiwaju even if it means sacrificing his life ambition.
It should be quickly stated that the loyalty of any political office holder is to the citizens and not to any man. Venerating one's political leader and mentor shouldn't be equated to loyalty at the expense of the fate of the masses, over 200 million Nigerians. If it is the wish of the Nigerian masses to have Osinbajo as their next president in 2023, so be it! After all, he owes his loyalty to his God and the people who elected him to the office of the vice president.
Osinbajo's destiny shouldn't be permanently held down as a stooge. A couple of self-acclaimed allies whose main duty is to blackmail perceived stronger opponents into pulling out of the contest cannot override the organic yearnings of millions of the Nigerian people at home and in the Diaspora craving for his leadership. Osinbajo's allegiance is tied to the service to his country and its people, not to an individual.
When you are going into a fire, those who you claim are your benefactors most likely will not follow you, since they know it burns. Don't expect them to go beyond your graveside at death too, as death is an individual debt and you never died with your benefactors.
Even, Nigeria by now should have moved past an era in which somebody supported to a position of power must make their benefactor an object of eternal genuflection or worship at the expense of public trust. This is loyalty gone mad and it should not be promoted in our polity. The fate and destiny of over 200 million people are bigger than the lifelong ambition of an individual.
Nigeria is not in good shape at the moment. The country needs leadership in 2023 that recognizes the urgency of the situation. That should be the fulcrum of our discussion as we move to the next electoral circle and not whether one man should run against his benefactor or not. Nigerians will elect their leader when the time comes.
The national mood at the moment calls for Osinbajo's presidency. It was, therefore, not surprising that the BBC declared in one of its reports that Osinbajo is Nigerians’ favourite leader. Most of his official engagements in different places for the past couple of weeks have been turned into a campaign ground by thousands of his supporters. Everywhere he goes, he is lauded and garlanded for his virtues. These are the qualities Nigerians should consider in their choice for the next President and Professor Yemi Osinbajo, undoubtedly, satisfies this wish.
I feel Nigeria's destiny calling and as I see it, a future of endless possibility stretching before us the moment the VP gave in to the call from millions of Nigerians to step forward and lead. But really, this is a time to be alive.
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