Editor's note: Political affairs analyst, Ayo Akinyemi, writes on the presidential ambition of Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN arguing that he is better placed to succeed his boss - President Muhammadu Buhari, mostly because he did not rock the boat like Atiku Abubakar did when he served under ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The emergence of Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, in the orbit of 2023 presidential aspirants, has been like a volcanic eruption in the nation's political landscape. It has caused upset in some camps and unsettled some other aspirants. It has changed the dynamics in the political circle, since the morning of Monday, 11 April 2022 when he publicly declared his interest in the contest for the 2023 race to Aso Rock.
Wondering why the vice president has been the issue in the last couple of weeks? Simply; he stands out from the pack, like a rose among green vegetables. Although of moderate stature, in physique, he is a giant in intellect, comportment, carriage, disposition, exposure, and integrity. Above all, remarkably, he is the current vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria - a position he has creditably held for almost seven years, without rancour, with absolute loyalty to his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari, in the service of the nation and the people of Nigeria.
Unlike what obtained between Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, when he was vice president, and his boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo, during the years of their second term in office, Osinbajo still enjoys the confidence of Buhari, his boss, to date.
Expectedly, the well-crafted 29-paragraph declaration of interest speech of Osinbajo, which also contained highlights of what could pass as a paraphrase of his manifesto, has been a talking point, attracting variegated reactions, criticism of different shades and colour. Detractors, supporters, and sympathisers of other aspirants, have variously been picking holes in his submissions in the speech.
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Some are piqued by his description of President Buhari as "a true Nigerian patriot, a servant of the nation in war and peace, and a man of integrity," whom he had worked with in the last seven years.
Some have wondered what the Buhari administration has put on ground that he (Osinbajo) intends to build on, as stated in his declaration.
What one finds most intriguing, is the blind condemnation of the seeming or perceived placid disposition of Osinbajo to the policies of government, of which he is a part, and the attendant socio-political problems believably impacting negatively on the people.
In the first three years (1999-2002) of his administration, President Obasanjo had huge confidence in his No 2, Alhaji Abubakar, and gave so many responsibilities to him. Things were smooth-sailing between the two, until a subterranean campaign of Mandela option of one-term for OBJ, perceivably fuelled by the vice president oozed out, in the approach of the national convention of the ruling party. It took a lot of horse-trading, persuasion, and pacification to get Abubakar to douse the tension for President Obasanjo to secure the ticket for a second-term mandate in Aso Rock in 2003. Thereafter, it was however a cautious, consciously tactically moderated relationship with the vice president. Atiku was choked up and effectively shrank, cut to size, with insignificant responsibility assigned to him.
Choked up, uncomfortable vice president, now like fish out of water, in search of fresh air and an avenue to actualize his presidential ambition, defected to the Action Congress for a presidential ticket in the 2007 election, while still in office as vice president.
Had Atiku not be driven by inordinate ambition, had he allowed the harmonious relationship that existed between him and his boss in the early years of the administration to flourish, he would have had an automatic ticket to succeed President Obasanjo in 2007. His boss would have felt comfortable enough to hand over power to him, ensured a smooth transition, seamless continuity, and sustained stability.
Abubakar lost the golden chance to impatience and vaulting ambition. He has since been desperately and vehemently pursuing the golden presidential diadem, jumping from one political party to the other. He now has the label of serial presidential candidate/aspirant. He is also currently in the race for the 2023 ticket.
The estranged relationship that prevented a smooth President Obasanjo to Vice President Atiku power flow in 2007, changed the trajectory of the country's polity and politics. The resultant gravitations brought us to this pass. The narrative would have been different from what had been obtained since 2007 if the vice president had kept his cool. We definitely would not have been where we are today. The story would have been different.
In 2002 Vice President Abubakar chose to rock the boat with his boss. 20 years after - 2022 - there is a cool-headed vice president Yemi Osinbajo, keeping the boat steady and afloat with his boss to maintain the stability of the polity.
Nigeria and Nigerians are on the march again, for the race for a Mr. President. Sadly, of concern, it seems to have become a race for all-comers of all sorts. But, in the midst of the mix, there is a man on the block who stands shoulders high.
For seven unbroken years, Osinbajo has been the vice president, learning the ropes. He has painstakingly watched from inside and from the sidelines, workings, and proceedings in the highest echelon of power in the land. He knows which Ts to cross, the loopholes to block, the rough edges to smoothen, the policies to finetune, the ones to consolidate. He would not have to beat about the bush. No trial and error.
Osinbajo will hit the ground running, if, by the grace of God, and the will of the people, he is given the opportunity to be in the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in 2023. None, among the multitude and myriad of aspirants, parades a match for his credentials.
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