By Gbenga Oyesanmi
My personal knowledge and observation of Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, compels me to respond to Yinka Odumakin’s diatribe titled: ‘Time to call out Osinbajo’.
It would be foolhardy to trust the words and motives of a man who has been discredited on several occasions by prominent figures and groups.
The antecedents of Yinka Odumakin, the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, have been described in not so favourable terms.
Odumakin’s turncoat antecedents are well documented. In 2011, Odumakin served as the spokesperson for President Muhammadu Buhari during the 2011 presidential election when he was still a candidate under the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC. But soon after Buhari lost the elections, Odumakin joined the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and the Jonathan government.
Also, in 2013, the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, which Odumakin represented in 2011, distanced itself from Odumakin’s comments in the Nigerian Pilot on July 17, 2013, condemning the governors elected on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN for being corrupt, which the paper attributed to having been the views of Buhari.
A man with such antecedents, with questionable values, and who switches camps at will, cannot be trusted for objectivity or un-bias in his views that have, over time, been tainted by prejudices and personal sentiments and distrust.
While he acknowledged the Vice President’s stellar qualities in his article, “Time to call out Osinbajo” on February 6, in the Vanguard, Odumakin went overboard in other areas. The vice president has never categorically faulted restructuring like Odumakin claimed.
To refresh his memory, the vice president in a speech, noted that he did not accept restructuring “along ethnic lines or dividing the country” which is the fulcrum of the argument of the likes of Odumakin.
Osinbajo said, “I have always been a strong believer in fiscal federalism that is to say, that the states must have more resources and we went to the Supreme Court. I actually went to the Supreme Court as Attorney-General of Lagos State, no less than ten times on issues of fiscal federalism.
“As a matter of fact, one of the things we said at that point was that we are trying to structure Nigeria’s federalism by court action. We went to court several times. For example on the issue of whether states have the right to certain degrees of autonomy, we fully supported that and said the state has right of autonomy with (regards) even to their resources.”
Also, Odumakin was playing to the gallery by trying hard to claim that VP Osinbajo was paying lip service to the herdsmen-farmers clashes, when it was the vice president, on behalf of the President, that has started a series of consultations with leaders from Fulani and Farmers communities. Not only that, the vice president-led NEC working group on the crisis committee is making frantic efforts to resolve the crisis, including visiting the affected states.
The vice president also visited communities in Adamawa State during renewed clashes in December, 2017. Food and relief materials reached those communities following the VP’s visit. Security has been beefed up in many of the communities where some of the violence occurred, all at the charge by the Presidency.
Observers can tell that as the 2019 elections draw near, the desperation of the likes of Odumakin to gain any form of political capital, no matter how tainted the route is, is already showing. He has shown this in the past. There are several question marks hanging over his principles and belief, which seem to change like the weather.
Odumakin, who once said that he gave his support to then-candidate Buhari in 2011 on the basis of the promise he made that he would restructure the country, also later said, after he had switched allegiance to Jonathan, that he started supporting Jonathan based on the premise that the former president would restructure Nigeria and organised a national constitutional conference in 2014. How convenient. Interestingly, Odumakin was a delegate at the four-month conference.
Odumakin, up till today, still avows for President Buhari’s integrity, honesty and forthrightness, even after he left his position as spokesperson of the CPC.
But the same cannot be said of him. Anything he has said to disparage the personality of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo should be disregarded as it holds no water.
*Oyesanmi, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja