Vice-president Osinbajo has what it takes to be president of Nigeria, argues Emmanuel Olorunda-Otaru
From 1999, when democracy got rooted in the country, it has been precedential, for religious balance and harmony by rotating the nation’s presidents and Vice Presidents, between the two great faiths, Muslim and Christian, and between the North and South. Where the President, a Muslim comes from the North, his Vice President, a Christian comes from the South. And a Christian President from the South succeeds a Muslim President from the North and vice versa. A perfect arrangement!
By this wisdom and mutual relationship, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, a Christian Southern President took over in 1999 with Atiku Abubakar, a Muslim as his Vice President .from the North. Late President Musa Yar’Adua, a Muslim with a Southern Christian Vice President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan did their turn, and succeeded by the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim, with a Southern Christian Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo. The only exception was former Vice President, Namadi Sambo (Christian) from the North to President Jonathan.
This kind of gentlemanly agreement, though not written in the national constitution, has engendered cohesion, sense of belonging and national unity, in a vast and heterogeneous society like Nigeria. It can also be argued that the spirit and letters of the Federal Character clause in the constitution is a strong backing to this gentlemanly practice. From the foregoing, there is need to maintain this unity in diversity, by allowing a Southern Christian to succeed President Buhari, after his eight years tenure in 2023.
Among the strong likely contenders in the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the South for the presidency, are incumbent Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (Christian); APC National leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu (Muslim); Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi (Christian), to mention a few.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the other hand, may throw up a Southern Christian from among the unapologetic frontrunners governors, as revealed by THISDAY newspaper recently.
Apart from the above inherent sensitivity in the nation’s political space, which is for the good of the country, any other sentiments should not be used to determine who should vie for the presidency. The Jagaban of Lagos, Bola Tinubu, is a great politician no doubt. He has laboured for the ruling party and is eminently qualified to vie for the president of the country. But is this enough to cajole him to vie for the presidency?
Though he has not come out to say he is contesting for the president, may be because of his health condition, the body language and feelers from his supporters are showing the signs. Earlier this year, his campaign posters surfaced in some parts of Lagos before they were later removed. Even now, a campaign group rooting for his candidature, South-West Agenda for Asiwaju (SWAGA), is already mobilizing and making consultation for the undeclared ambition. Tinubu’s campaign posters have been seen in some strategic areas of the state, even as the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has not declared electioneering campaign open for the 2023 polls.
It is a good advice that the Asiwaju of Lagos should rather pay attention to his health challenges, rather than carrying the heavy burden of leadership of the country on frail shoulders. The gargantuan problems of this country are too daunting for any ailing president again. At these trying times in the life of the nation, Nigeria needs a healthy and energetic president, a workaholic president. So that the country can move forward from the current degradation and misrule.
One sympathises with Tinubu for his health challenges. The question is, can Nigeria afford another sickly president? When former President Umaru Yar’adu was sick, the country was equally sick, drifting aimlessly, until after his demise, when Jonathan took over, before things began to normalise again. There is an adage which says, “Once beaten, twice shy”. Have we learnt any lesson?
In the case of President Buhari, he has been frequenting foreign healthcare and Nigerians have been praying fervently for his good health. Who says the president’s frequent trips for healthcare abroad is not telling on the nation’s dwindling resources? And, invariably impacting negatively on the country’s development by and large? Perhaps, if governments over the years have developed our healthcare facilities, there would be no need for our leaders to run abroad for healthcare, at a huge cost to the economy.
The same precedent that disallowed Tinubu from being the vice president to Buhari in 2015 as a Muslim- Muslim ticket, is still the same that will now favour a Christian successor to Buhari. Tinubu has nothing to lose if he throws his weight behind Yemi Osinbajo, his godson, to become the president of the country. He has been a kingmaker in Lagos State. Let him also become a national kingmaker. He has been mightily blessed.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, an erudite law professor, has the intellectual capacity and sagacity, coupled with energy, good health and determination to move the country forward if given the mandate. From the little time he acted for his principal, he demonstrated sterling leadership qualities, which were noticeable then. Osinbajo would be a good president for Nigeria. He believes in the unity of the country. His loyalty is unalloyed. His acceptability to Nigerians North and South, Christians and Muslims is not in doubt. He has no known baggage weighing him down. No wonder, a Northern governor and other traditional rulers in the North are already campaigning for him and urging him to run for the President in 2023.
This writer, as a Nigerian who yearns for quality leadership for this country, ‘God’s own country’, believes in Osinbajo’s leadership qualities. I equally urge him to run for the president. The youths of this great country would support him. The elderly also will support him. And the Almighty God would back him up for victory. So, that this great country would rise from the ashes of inept leadership since independence, and take her rightful place among the comity of nations.
Olorunda-Otaru can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org