By Prisca Sam-Duru
Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is yet to declare his intention to join the race for who becomes next president of Nigeria in the coming elections but, several groups have begun drumming serious support for his candidacy.
This according to the National Secretary of the National Coalition Group for Osinbajo 2023, Dr Eli Eberechukwu Dibia, is because Prof. Osinbajo is the most credible presidential aspirant in the next general elections. No doubt, Dr Dibia is not the only person who believes in the Osinbajo’s ability to lead Nigeria as president. With Osinbajo’s academic qualifications and experience, there are Nigerians who believe he has all it takes to revive the country.
And so, the reason he is being urged to step out and contest is because, “The presidency of Nigeria is not an ambition that should be left for Prof Osinbajo alone; it is something all of us must come together and look inwards and be able to get a president that could stand integrity test. And having looked round and studied the array of people that are showing interest in the Nigerian presidential project, the National Coalition Group, decided to pitch their tent with Prof. Osinbajo. We have no discussion with him, it is a selfless volunteer effort to ensure that we will restore and sustain our nascent democracy,” Dr Dibia stated.
He continues; “Looking at Osinbajo we saw a man who possesses the core values of integrity, discipline and a man that has dignity in labour. As a senior advocate of Nigeria, he is quite cerebral. So we are looking at a situation where whoever that will succeed president Buhari must be someone who has that integrity that Nigerians are looking out for and who has the courage to do the rightful things that the masses could celebrate. Going by his antecedent, we feel he is the best option for the ruling party APC to clinch the presidency of Nigeria in 2023”.
Could the VP be under compulsion to compete with others who have already declared their interest in the APC, particularly, Chief Bola Tinubu who is considered as the VP’s mentor? Considering the dire situation of the country, shouldn’t the ‘right’ candidate that will rescue the country, show interest without being under some kind of duress to run for presidency? Well, Dr Dibia told his interviewers on Arise Television during the week, that “No one is dragging Prof. Osinbajo into the presidential race”, explaining that, “Looking at his antecedent, what he was able to do in 2018, when the president left for treatment abroad and handed over to him as acting president. Within six months, Nigerians had a full breath of fresh air. Nigerians were proud to say that they have someone acting as president. “There was this invasion at National Assembly, at that time and he insisted and went ahead to sack the Director-General who ordered that invasion, therefore, exemplifying him as a man who respects the legislator, a man who respects the rule of law, a man who is willing to ensure that all tribes are carried along in the affairs of the country”.
Agreed that the VP was exceptional during his time as acting president, but acknowledging that fact that Nigerians enjoyed breath of fresh air during that period is an eloquent testimony of how stifling things have really been for the masses especially in this APC administration of which Dr Eli Dibia is a member. And by implication, that could mean that the VP’s principal failed woefully in several areas. This, Dr Dibia buttresses unknowingly when he says that “The mood of the country today requires the person of Osinbajo” and that “The candidacy of Prof Yemi Osinbajo is the truth that Nigerians will begin to profess from now on because it is the only way we can get out of a lot of quagmire and gulags we are passing through”. Whether APC can still boast of the wherewithal to rule the country for another 8 years, is another topic for another day but you’d begin to wonder if the VP has not been part of this same administration during which Nigerians are passing through the ‘quagmire and gulags’ Dr Dibia mentioned.
It’s interesting however to know that a lot of people as he disclosed, find faith in Prof. Osinbajo even without his showing interest yet, in running for the office of the president. “The National Coalition Group, is not alone; we are just umbrella body housing over 147 groups and other related labour bodies that are rooting that Osinbajo becomes our next president. “The mood of the country today requires the person of Osinbajo who could sustain and consolidate on the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari. Getting a new hand into the system will take us back and that might deter some of the developmental strides that are already in motion,” Dibia revealed.
To show how eager the National Coalition Group is to see Osinbajo become president, they’ve begun making freewill donations to fund his campaign. “The funding is coming from a lot of beneficiaries who benefited from the N-Power- about five hundred thousand of them; a lot of medium small scale businesses who benefited from the CAC Incorporation that was done for free- over two hundred thousand of them. We have a litany of 21 thousand members across the 774 local governments of Nigeria and the 36 states of the country plus the FCT. “Our funding is by contribution; we are contributing money by ourselves. It is a task because we see Nigeria as a project and we don’t want the old order to continue”.
The freewill donations are noble but how lawful is tasking these beneficiaries of government scheme to fund the National Coalition Group’s support for the VP? Those actually were government schemes, and not Prof. Osinbajo’s scheme so, why are they funding a political campaign for him? Isn’t this a dangerous trend as some Nigerians may begin to insinuate that these beneficiaries are being forced to pay back for the noble deed government did for them? Dr Dibia disagrees; “That is not true, nothing like that is happening. The truth is that about 500 thousand graduates benefited from that N-Power programme. And about 200 thousand young business Nigerians benefited from the free CAC registration. The government of President Muhammadu Buhari is feeding over 9.9 million school children in various primary schools in Nigeria, and there are vendors involved. One way or the order, they make gain out of it and they have brought themselves into a cooperative- women, student bodies etc. Now, we have 151 civil society groups and NGOs saying that they are willing to support us. One of the groups said it is going to support us to buy the nomination form for the VP to run. So we are not tasking anybody; it’s a voluntary action”.
All the same, it’s not out of place to say it is because they got something from the government that’s why they are donating to support Osinbajo’s candidacy, but then, why him only? Come to think of it, what if he does not declare his interest at the end of the day or he decides to step down for his ‘mentor’, what happens to all the money realised from the ‘cooperative’?
Still, the big question just like Rufai Oseni asked during the interview, is whether beneficiaries of a government scheme are now supposed to be partisan. Why must they all support a particular government official through donation? Does this not imply that these beneficiaries are only members of APC, otherwise why are they all supporting a member of the ruling party? Certainly, not many Nigerians will accept this source of funding from the group rooting for the VP’s candidacy as noble and, anyone who insinuates that the major reason for the N-Power project and free business registration for young graduates, is just what is playing out now, may not be condemned.
Another issue raised during the interview is, the VP has not declared his interest in the race quite alright, but should he, wouldn’t it be confrontational knowing his mentor Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu who declared already is in same party? Dr Dibia believes it is customary that a child grows up to be bigger than his father and that “Any father, who does not want his child to grow, does not deserve to be a father. The truth and glaring truth is that the mentor as ascribed, has right to contest likewise the son. Nigerians need to choose their president. It’s no longer a case of APC, PDP; because if you look at what happened in Niger State, the former Governor of Niger State, described Yemi Osinbajo in the best of what he understands about him and the whole world has been applauding that description, even PDP; he said Osinbajo is the best candidate that APC could present.
“His declaration now is fundamental and we the National Coalition have written to him, giving him 30 days to make declaration. We are not rooting for an ethnic or tribal president, we understand that Osinbajo is a detribalised Nigerian and we are looking for a Nigerian president that would stand and answer the Nigerian president and then do an all inclusive government that will bring prosperity and more progress and development to this nation”.
Regarding the agitation for a president from the south east, when asked if it is fair that he is campaigning for a candidate from the south west, Dr Dibia asserted that, “Every ethnic nationality has right to agitate for presidency. But the fact that the CONFAB report of former President Goodluck Jonathan has not been implemented, the party uses what they call charter of equity, or zoning convention. “The party has zoned the presidency to the south, even the opposition party has zoned their own equally to the south. So anyone from the south whether east, west and south south, is free to contest. But what we are saying is that in a football match, you must put a striker who can always score the goal. We are not stopping anyone from any ethnic nationality from contesting.
“The truth, is something that cannot be hidden no matter how far you try to hide it. The candidacy of Prof Yemi Osinbajo is the truth that Nigerians will begin to profess from now on because it is the only way we can get out of quagmire and gulags we are passing through.