By Abubarkar Suleiman
LET me confess that I have not really been very interested in politics, but the entry of Professor Yemi Osinbajo into the 2023 presidential race has excited me and millions of other Nigerians. In the last 20 years of our democracy, I have visited and lived in many parts of the country: Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Enugu, Port Harcourt and now Jos.
Never before have I seen so much excitement about a candidate like the enthusiasm surrounding the Osinbajo aspiration. I am drawn to his energy, freshness, elocution, inspiring messages and the hope he exudes. With less than a week to the national convention of APC, I can only hope that the VP will emerge the flag bearer of the party.
In the last eight week of intense politicking, the true character of all the presidential aspirants and their messages have come to the fore and Nigerians have learned a lot about each of them. For me, Yemi Osinbajo has stood out in the pack. While Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is harping on his entitlement to the presidency as a “lifelong dream”, Osinbajo is carefully building his brand as the candidate with deep experience and exposure who would be ready for the job from day one.
On-the-job experience and his readiness to lead are the main thrust of his campaign, and he is presenting this as his unique selling point that differentiates him from the others. He’s repeated the same theme in all the states he’s visited since his declaration on April 11. For him, the experience he has garnered in the last seven years has become a compelling reason to serve the country.
Said he: “God is deliberate in everything He does, and by giving me all these opportunities to understand governance…at the highest level of our country, all of it was not just so that I can sit down and write a memoir. No. It was to come in handy one day, and I believe the time has come”.
At the Palace of the Deji of Akure in the Ondo State Capital, Prof Osinbajo stressed that being Vice President, and at some point, Acting President, he had acquired invaluable experience which, invariably, is akin to a training to be president.
He said: “I have served for the past seven years as Vice President of Nigeria, and I have also acted within that period when the President was away… In that capacity, I am probably the only person trained to be President, because if you’ve been a Vice President and also Acting President, then you’ve been trained, and I must say with utmost humility that that is exactly how I feel”.
Another uniqueness of the VP’s campaign is his down-to-earth approach in engaging with the delegates and party members he’s met as he travels the country. Osinbajo is the only one of the aspirants that takes time to field questions from a cross section of the audience.
By standing up and taking questions from the delegates, party members have been able to assess his sincerity of purpose, openness, honesty and a deep commitment to the welfare of the citizens. In addition, his experience also assures us that his learning curve would be very short, and he would have very little or no need for handover notes.
In our sub-region, the VP is already well known to the ECOWAS leaders as he has represented the country many times at their meetings. In the domestic front, the VP has been involved in all the major decisions, policies and actions of the government. For instance, his role in the resolution of the #EndSARS crisis in October 2020 eventually led to the setting up of the judicial panels across the country is well documented.
As the Vice Chairman of the National Security Council, the VP is at home with all the security problems plaguing our nation, including the difficulty in procuring weapons for our military. He is familiar with the security chiefs, the middle level officers and even the challenges our troops and law enforcement agencies face.
I know for a fact that the President has recently asked the VP to lead a committee and liaise with the service chiefs to work on the complete overhaul of the nation’s security architecture. With the little time left to the end of this administration, it is logical that the report and recommendations of this body would be implemented by the new Commander-in-Chief. Prof Osinbajo would most likely implement the recommendations of the report than any of these other aspirants.
This is the kind of hands-on experience that the VP would be taking to office if (or when) he’s elected President, whether in terms of our national focus on food production and attainment of self-sufficiency in some staple food crops, tackling insecurity, building infrastructure, tackling unemployment and poverty or attending to the huge demands of foreign policy issues in the sub region, Africa and across the Atlantic.
I should, however, point out that experience is more effective if it is reinforced by good character. Qualities like good communication skills, vision, competence, ethical and moral character, empathy, compassion, energy and drive, decision making skills, accountability and ability to delegate all work together with experience to produce a good leader.
They constitute the contents of his heart and the nature of his character. Those who know Prof Osinbajo very well have attested to his character and noble motivations. President Buhari has publicly attested to ‘’his wisdom and loyalty”.
Statesmen like General Ibrahim Babangida, emirs and other traditional rulers, religious and political leaders across the country have also praised him for possessing the requisite qualities, in addition to ability to bring people together and keep the country united. I hope that APC delegates will nominate the VP as their candidate, and Nigerians will make the wise decision and choose him as the next President.
Suleiman, a computer scientist, wrote from Jos