Bola Ahmed Tinubu

As the 2023 election year draws closer and more presidential hopefuls continue to declare their interests, there is no gainsaying that the two leading APC aspirants, that is, Bola Tinubu and Yemi Osinbajo have become talking points in the hearts of Nigerians who crave good leadership, especially amid the raging storm confronting the country.

Going by the velocity of those clamouring for a Southern presidency, there seems to be a glimmer of hope for the leading contenders in the ruling APC, but the question of who the gods would smile on between the duo has been a recurring decimal among political commentators.

X-raying the two contenders will enable us to understand their aspirations and plans for the country, and by extension consider their antecedents and vision for a better Nigeria.

One cannot deny the fact that the duo both boast of a wealth of experience in the annals of Nigeria’s political history. As far as politics is concerned, experience is not just the best teacher but learning in the process is what makes us good students of history. This the duo has demonstrated in their capacities as leaders.

Tinubu’s declaration

On Monday, January 10, 2022, Tinubu made his much-anticipated declaration to contest for the office of the president come 2023. This came shortly after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, a few days after President Buhari declared in a televised interview that he would not openly declare the identity of his successor over fear that the person might be “eliminated”.

The impression in most quarters was that the President was referring to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who is believed to be Buhari’s anointed candidate. However, dissenting opinions suggest Mr President’s favourite is not too far from one of the members of his cabinet who will be made known sooner rather than later.

A key point in Tinubu’s declaration is the fact that he claimed his intention to become Nigeria’s president is a “lifelong ambition”, a statement that some political analysts faulted on the grounds of being overzealous and ambitious in his quest for “political gains” as against the zest for patriotism and love for the common man.

“He is a democrat. He didn’t ask me to stop, he didn’t ask me not to attempt and pursue my ambition. It is a lifelong ambition. You are running a democratic dispensation and you must adopt the principles and values and virtues of democracy,” Tinubu had said when asked how the President responded to his declaration.

The big question now is, “Why should ambition be prioritized above love for Nigerians clamouring for good governance?” There is more to the statement than meets the eyes.

Since his declaration, the political atmosphere in the country has been heating up at an incredible pace, leading to direct confrontation on social media platforms between his supporters and various groups rooting for the Vice President at any slight provocation.

These developments signal the beginning of a war before a battle that will determine how the ruling party goes in and comes out of its national convention and beyond.

Going forward, Primate Ayodele, who is fondly called ‘prophet of doom’, said “an imminent political doom awaits Tinubu ahead of the party’s primaries, which seems to be tilting towards favouring an anointed candidate, as clearly seen in the just concluded national convention, where the president, through his benevolence, randomly picked those appointed into the National Working Committee.”

With so many factors before him, Tinubu’s formal entry into the race has presented to him a challenge that seems daunting even for most technocrats, especially at a time like this in the history of the country when most Nigerians are calling for a younger and vibrant head to steer the affairs of the country.

Osinbajo’s long-awaited declaration

Monday, April 11 saw the long-awaited declaration of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for the Number One seat in the country. Prior to this time, many groups among other well-meaning Nigerians, have been calling the professor, popularly called “star-boy”, to join the presidential race. As some unpopular opinions suggest, the VP might have been consulting widely and taking his time before making one of the hardest decisions in his journey to greatness.

One bullet point to take from his Martin Luther King-like speech is the fact that Osinbajo mentioned revolutionising and transforming Nigeria if elected President in the 2023 elections.

“I now most solemnly and respectfully seek the support of fellow Nigerians everywhere in this land, and the diaspora, young and old, male and female, in the great and exciting journey that we have ahead of us.

“We will work together, establish by the grace of God, the Nigeria of our dreams in a few short years. We will build on the foundation laid by our predecessors.

“We will need to move, with much speed, intentionality, and perseverance, towards the vision of a prosperous, stable, and secure nation,” he says in his formal declaration speech.

By contrast, there is one key message between Tinubu’s “lifelong ambition” and Osinbajo’s “Nigerian dream”. It is an analogy between zest for power and love for the nation; it is an analogy between self and selfless service. As a Nigerian, the ball is in your court to choose between a leader who values personal interest above national interest or a leader who sees national interest above personal gain. 2023 is the right time to choose the right leader that will achieve the Nigeria of our dream. Your PVC is your voice!

Arogbonlo Israel is a political communicator and good governance advocate, writes from Lagos

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