Editor's note: All Progressives Congress chieftain and public affairs commentator, Ben Adegbola, has made a case for Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN to emerge as the candidate of the party and ultimately, the winner of the 2023 presidential election.
The coming 2023 Nigeria presidential election has continued to generate heated debates, with some elements of political propaganda pervading the polity. While it is crystal clear that any qualified Nigerian of impeccable character deserves the coveted seat at Aso Rock at the expiration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s two consecutive terms in office, it is pertinent for Nigeria to get it right.
The horse-trading going on in the camps of major gladiators eyeing the apex seat, especially within the ruling party, has raised serious concerns. Again, the myriad of the challenges confronting the polity is a pointer that it is crucial to evaluate the credentials of anyone who would succeed President Buhari, lest Nigeria sinks in the years to come.
This, of course, is a clear indication that our nation must get it right at this critical period in its drive to a new Nigeria where citizens will beat their chests in confidence it really belongs to them.
As a warning, pundits have postulated that the nation may flounder if competence is sacrificed for loyalty, as it is being erroneously echoed in some quarters. It has also been expressed that Nigeria may plunge into gloom if the issue of the 2023 presidency is treated as compensation without critically working towards putting right a peg in the right hole. In this regard and in the interest of the nation, there is a need to do a SWOT analysis of the leading contenders for the apex seat. SWOT – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats – would help in winning elections at different levels of election and delivering as a leader.
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In all honesty, there has been clamour for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at many levels for the highest political seat in Nigeria. And there is no gainsaying that Osinbajo is eminently qualified judging by his academic credentials, career as a university don, experience spanning two decades as a technocrat, politician, and ultimately his meritorious service as vice president of Nigeria.
However, as it is obvious, the journey of Osinbajo to the 2023 presidency is in two phases: the presidential primary and presidential election. Whether overtly or covertly, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has zoned its 2023 presidency to the south, going by the emergence of Abdullahi Adamu, from the north-central, as its national chairman. It is, therefore, imperative for the party to rise above primordial sentiments and present a qualified, experienced, credible, unblemished, unassuming, and acceptable presidential candidate in the coming election.
Osinbajo has, no doubt, been dominating the media space across the country as a would-be president come May 29, 2023, going by his track records of experience, credentials, among others. An interesting issue is the wide acceptability of Osinbajo, the acclaimed best vice president in Nigeria’s history, among a large spectrum of Nigerians, including some loyalists of other major and minor political parties in the country. Within the divide of APC, Professor Osinbajo has been enjoying wide support among some power brokers. Without being hyperbolic, some followers of the main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are said to have preferred him as their candidate in the interest of the fragile nation.
In what Nigerians have longed for, Osinbajo recently declared his intention to contest the 2023 presidential election on the platform of the APC. He made his ambition known after a meeting with APC governors in State House, Abuja. In his usual elocution, the University of Lagos don promised to rapidly advance infrastructure development, especially power, roads, railways, and broadband connectivity if elected as the president in 2023. Also on his agenda are an excellent environment for businesses, the reform of the Nigerian justice system, adequate remuneration, and welfare of judicial personnel, justice for all, and the observance of rule of law.
Other areas include, but are not limited to, taking the agricultural revolution to the next level especially mechanisation and developing the farm to the table value chain, making sure that the government serves the business community, creating a tech economy that will provide jobs for millions of youths, enhancing Social Investment Programme (SIP) to a full-scale social welfare scheme, completing the promise of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within this decade, reforming our educational system for relevance to the challenges of this century, completing the task of universal health coverage for all, strengthening the capacity of states and local governments to deliver on their respective mandates.
His declaration has been greeted with myriads of encomiums from different quarters owing to people’s belief in his competence, especially judging by his tremendous contributions and achievements in governance so far. As it is known that Osinbajo has hurdles to cross, people have since been making a clarion call on the acclaimed most loyal vice president in Nigeria and legal and academic panjandrum to contest the 2023 presidential election.
From the intraparty to interparty levels, the Ogun-born politician has advantages in realising his ambition. The vice president is a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) which incidentally is the highest decision-making body of the party and the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party. All of these have implications for his chances of succeeding President Buhari.
Osinbajo has really carved a niche for himself in the party, government, and the nation at large. He has presided over the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on many occasions. He has also acted as president several times whenever Buhari was absent. He has performed creditably well in such tasks. Opinion in many quarters is that it is Osinbajo that can give the APC massive victory in the 2023 presidential election. Some have adduced that fielding an unpopular candidate may be disastrous at this critical moment in Nigeria’s history.
Beyond all the above factors, Osinbajo understands the nation’s terrain. His power of economic transformation is a reason Nigerians need to support his ambition. Also, his knowledge as a university don is needed to transform this nation. He has a string of firsts. Among others, he is the first professor to become Nigeria’s vice president; he did not let the side down. He is the first vice president to spend eight years without betraying his principal. The imbroglio between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is still fresh in the memories of Nigerians. Subsequently, it is not out of place if the nation can have Osinbajo as the first professor to be president.
Apart from his capability to transform the economy and other sectors, fight insecurity, and find lasting solutions to the issues of incessant strikes by workers in our ivory towers and the labour generally, he has demonstrated his ability and readiness to bring all-round development to the nation, knowing fully well that development is about people.
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