Osinbajo, APC and the Question of Integrity by Lekan Adigun

Osinbajo, APC and the Question of Integrity by Lekan Adigun

Editor's note: Abuja-based public affairs analyst and commentator, Lekan Adigun writes on soaring political image of Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo despite his loss at the All Progressives Congress presidential primary election held in June.

Three months after the All Progressives Congress (APC) special convention and presidential primary, and a few weeks to the start of political campaign for the 2023 presidential elections, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is still being talked about like he won the contest to become the APC party’s flagbearer.

The reasons are obvious. VP Osinbajo is still Nigeria’s vice president and number two, and a force to be reckoned with in the APC. His critics and antagonists say this in hushed tone, but the facts in front of them tell them pointedly that the Osinbajo factor is vital in winning the presidential elections for the APC in 2023.

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Adigun stated that VP Osinbajo's image has soared to the high heavens despite his loss at the APC presidential primary election. Photo credit: Aso Rock Villa
Source: Facebook

Osinbajo may not have won the APC primary in June 2022, but he won the hearts of more Nigerians across party lines. One was as a result of his deftly delivered speech, which some have described as one of the best - if not the best - speech ever by a presidential aspirant of any political party in Nigeria.

Despite him not eventually winning the slot to become the APC’s flagbearer, many still believe that he was the best presidential aspirant, across party lines. Let’s not forget that there were 21 other aspirants who lost the primary. But Osinbajo still remains the most popular, not just by virtue of his position as VP, but largely also by the sheer force of his personality as the epitome of exemplary public service and leadership. He has become the benchmark that other major politicians aspire to in terms of performance and persona.

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No wonder some of Osinbajo’s antagonists and critics are now pushing the narrative that the vice president was bent on leaving the APC immediately after the primaries. But it seems they have run out of options and lost every argument in their quest to taint the VP and give party faithful reasons to doubt his loyalty. But you simply cannot put a star down. It shines despite the night.

As a matter of fact, because of Osinbajo’s star quality and nationwide acceptability, insiders have said that the VP had received offers to leave the APC and become the presidential candidate on other political platforms. But Osinbajo’s quest to become president was borne out of passion and patriotism, not by greed, personal ambition or selfish aggrandisement. Osinbajo’s decision to run for president was solely borne out of his desire to give the best in service to the fatherland as its number one.

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Weeks after the APC presidential primary, there were news reports speculating that the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) led by Rabiu Kwankwaso, a former governor of Kano state, had offered Osinbajo their presidential candidate ticket. The kite of a possible Osinbajo/Kwankwaso ticket for NNPP in 2023 gained some traction even though it was later debunked by some people in Osinbajo’s camp.

Although the Osinbajo camp denied the rumours, it was a pointer to the star power of the starboy of the APC and the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.

Elections seasons in Nigeria is rife with politicians decamping to opposition political parties when it is clear that their ambitions would not be realized in their current home party. For instance, current presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, decamped twice when his presidential ambition went bust. In February 2014, Atiku decamped from PDP to APC; and then in December 2017, he went back to PDP, the platform which he contested for and lost the presidential elections to President Buhari in 2019. He’s back again to contest under the PDP for 2023 elections.

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Also, once considered one of the top contenders for the PDP party's presidential ticket prior to its convention, current Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi dumped the PDP few weeks before its primary in May this year when it was obvious that he was not going to be picked ahead of Atiku Abubakar or Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike. Recall that Obi was Atiku’s VP candidate when the latter contested for the presidency under the PDP in 2019.

Away from presidential candidates. The likes of Senator Dino Melaye and former minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, among others, who seem to have made decamping to opposing political parties a favourite past time. A whole book can be written about notable politicians who dumped their political parties for the opposition when they lost the chance to further their personal political ambition there.

But that’s not who Osinbajo is. He is an “Omoluabi”. A man of exemplary character, a man of honour and integrity. If the vice president was not a man of integrity, he would have chosen to become a carpetbagger like many other politicians in this clime are wont to do after they lose their chance with the party to contest an election and pursue their personal political ambition.

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Osinbajo remains a loyal party man and a firm believer in the new Nigeria project. He is not driven by personal ambition, but by a desire to serve and give the best in service to the country. It must also be emphasized that Osinbajo was an integral part of those who wrote the APC party manifesto in 2013 and his personal quest for progressive politics, which the party represents, remains firm. Not only that, it is stating the obvious that switching political parties simply because of a personal ambition was not a thing for the VP to consider. His desire to always give his best for the good of the country goes beyond becoming a presidential flagbearer of the ruling party.

A few days after the APC presidential primary, the VP, while addressing supporters at his campaign office, stated that he will support the winner and flagbearer of the APC for the 2023 presidential elections, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

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The vice president also noted that despite the result of the APC Presidential Primary, “the dream of a new country remains alive. Our movement for a new Nigeria must remain strong and firm. And we will do everything to keep our movement strong and solid.”

Osinbajo also stated that he will adhere to the political process of his party, the APC. The VP added that he remains “committed to that dream of a new Nigeria.”

Since the APC Primaries in June, the man fondly called The Prof has continued from where he stopped, carrying out his duties passionately and patriotically, as the vice president of Nigeria. It is almost like Osinbajo’s critics and opponents are at sea and totally miffed by how this man continues serving despite losing a major primary and despite all the brickbats thrown at him before and after the APC primaries. I have an answer for them: Integrity and desire for service to God and country.

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There is a saying that if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. Osinbajo stands for integrity, trustworthiness, dependability, patriotism, honesty, and all the attributes that make great national leaders. These exemplary principles have governed the VP’s personal life and life in public service.

That he did not win the APC presidential primaries is not going to change the embodiment of who he is. Whether in the office of a citizen, pastor, professor or vice president, Osinbajo remains the same, a man of integrity. No amount of criticism can change that in a lifetime.

In November 2021, during the APC Youth Conference in Abuja, VP Osinbajo gave a rousing speech, where he famously said, “whatever the situation, we move!”

Despite all the jabs from his antagonists, VP Osinbajo is moving, onto greater height, continuing his dedicated service as Nigeria’s vice president. He may not have won the APC presidential primary, but he has since become a symbol of a national movement, for a Nigeria that we all truly desire and yearn for.

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