You could read the pain and disappointment on the face of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu when he gave a curt, “I have no son old enough to declare (for President),” in response to a cheeky question from a journalist after his meeting with some governors of the ruling political party, the All Progressives Congress.
Though he must have been hearing the rumour; seen and read calls by even members of his political family goading Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, “Run. Yemi Run,” he may not have been too prepared for the shock.
Journalist Babafemi Ojudu, a senator of Nigeria’s seventh National Assembly and now Special Adviser on Political Matters in the Office of the Vice President, went on television to ask Vice President Osinbajo to run.
He disclosed that he introduced Vice President Osinbajo to Senator Tinubu when the latter was governor of Lagos State. Senator Ojudu probably takes the presidency of Osinbajo as the logical conclusion of a project he started many years ago.
It will be wrong, even pretentious, to say that Senator Tinubu had no idea it would come to this, though he and his handlers may have been hoping that they wouldn’t have to deal with this move, seemingly forced on the Vice President from across regions, religions and realms of Nigeria.
Senator Tinubu will acknowledge that when the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), told a team of television interviewers that he couldn’t give the name of the man he preferred to succeed him, many people thought of Vice President Osinbajo.
The most in-your-face “Draft Osinbajo” lobby is believed to be the policy of The Redeemed Christian Church of God to set up a directorate that would encourage and mentor its large number of members to actively participate in Nigeria’s politics and elections.
Incidentally, this policy of RCCG has prompted a me-too response from the Muslim ulama to ginger the participation of Muslim mumini to massively engage in politics ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Some extreme religious arguments suggest that RCCG is using Osinbajo to supplant the ambition of his Muslim mentor and benefactor and truncate an undisclosed ambition of Muslims to remain primus in Aso Rock Villa.
An Islamic lobby, Muslim Rights Concern, led by Prof Ishaq Akintola, alleges that RCCG’s encouragement of Christian participation in politics is equivalent to RCCGising of Nigeria’s politics.
The argument of those calling on Vice President Osinbajo to succeed his boss as president is that his responsibility to more than 200 million Nigerians should override his primordial loyalty to an individual, no matter how morally difficult it may be for him to travel that road.
They add that Nigeria’s Constitution guarantees all citizens the fundamental human right to vote and be voted for into any elective office of their choice. And the exercise of this right is without prejudice to previous affiliations or associations.
They further add the Yoruba adage, which roughly translates into English as instead for the lion to be the bag man to the tiger, they should both rather hunt in separate expeditions.
Now that Vice President Osinbajo has publicly declared his intention to run for President, it’s probably too late to stop him. The Yoruba would say, “Omoye has walked naked into the marketplace. Covering her up is of no use anymore.”
But there is a rather far-fetched theory that Senator Tinubu is merely garnering speed to deliver to Vice President Osinbajo at the primaries. Senator Tinubu doesn’t look like a man working to bestow a freebie on a beneficiary.
Those who think Vice President Osinbajo’s quest to be president may divide the South-West delegates at the APC presidential primary have not factored in Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti State Governor, who has not been too successful in hiding his desire to be president.
Governor Fayemi, who collaborated with Senator Tinubu and others on the adventure of establishing Radio Kudirat that was used in fighting the dreaded General Sani Abacha regime, has hinted that he will make his intention known after the Holy Christian month of Lent. Or did he say the end of Ramadan?
Governor Fayemi responded to those who asked if he will run for president, in the following coy words, “I have received a lot of phone calls from the media in the last few days asking whether I would be running for the office of the president in 2023.”
As you can see, 2022 promises a lot ahead of 2023. This is because, between now and mid-2022, the primaries that will throw up presidential candidates, especially of ruling party APC and main opposition party Peoples Democratic Party, would have been conducted. As William Shakespeare would have said it, the battles would have been won and lost.
Some people are already looking beyond the conclusion of the APC presidential primaries, postulating that one of the trio of Vice President Osinbajo, Governor Fayemi and Senator Tinubu would emerge as consensus candidate after the other two would have openly conceded the ticket and pledged to work together to enable APC win the presidential election in 2023.
After all, two of them, Vice President Osinbajo and Senator Tinubu, are members of a mutual admiration party: Vice President Osinbajo once described Senator Tinubu, who described him as a man of vision and diligent work ethic, as a transformative leader.
Some others, who claim to know Senator Tinubu very closely, say he would even be the one to initiate a truce once he reads the handwriting on the wall. His supporter, Senator Magnus Abe, however, insists there will be no consensus in the APC primaries.
Tinubu’s wife, Senator “Madam” Oluremi Tinubu, once revealed in an interview that Jagaban is a man who will give his all to a fight to achieve an objective but will be the first to reconcile when the battle is concluded. Okay, she may not have used those exact words but it’s in the ballpark.
How easy a truce or reconciliation will pan out remains to be seen. But it is doable. The next six weeks, a period of the long knives, will be intense. It will also be a period that each of the aspirants will know his worth and value within the ranks of the APC. There will be disappointments and triumphs.
Many Yoruba, who are not even card carrying members of APC, have more than fiercely expressed their preference for either Vice President Osinbajo or Senator Tinubu, or even Governor Fayemi for that matter.
The battle is, first, within the APC, whose more serious presidential aspirants seem to be mostly of Yoruba stock. The next battle is for the anointed presidential candidate of APC to slug it out with the Igbo that may emerge as the presidential candidate of a PDP that seems no longer sure it will stick to its principle of power rotation.
To make things easy for the PDP, some of its Igbo presidential aspirants are considering a consensus candidate amongst themselves though their party is waffling between consensus or delegates voting.
There is a niggling theory that members of the Northern political establishment, like former Niger State Governor, Babangida Aliyu, encouraged Vice President Osinbajo to run for president in order to divide South-West Nigerian delegates’ vote in APC and jeopardise its pitch for the presidency.
Maybe the South-West gladiators should weigh the veracity of this theory.
– Twitter @lekansote1
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