By Remi Adebayo
The race to the 2023 presidential elections is becoming intense and defining as it poses a vital phase for rethinking Nigeria’s survival and reality of the future from May 29, 2023 when a new set of leaders that will pilot the affairs of Nigeria will be inaugurated.
Many have highlighted some shortcomings of the current government in its eight years at the saddle at the apex of Nigeria’s leadership with concerns that if another president should emerge from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, that individual must possess exceptional character and competence to deliver.
As a matter of fact, while the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, whose rule was terminated by the APC in 2015 was being asked to offer apologies for its alleged sixteen years misrule, others believe that the party in government needs to demonstrate higher skills to deliver on the art of governance.
So, with another opportunity to refresh mandate from Nigerians approaches, those believing that the ruling party should be trusted with another chance are similarly enquiringly concerned about the quality of a candidate that should fly its presidential ticket at the general elections in 2023.
For long, fingers have been directed at him; in fact, many independent opinion polls have had Nigerians insisting that he looked like the best the APC can showcase in that election. After speculations and uncertainties around his ambition, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday April 11, 2022 informed the nation of his readiness to serve as president, if given the opportunity.
In doing this, the Law professor said his experiences while working with his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari and the opportunities he had in making different decisions as Vice and Acting President have him sufficiently equipped to hit the ground running from the first day.
He pledged the nation of sustaining the good legacies of the Buhari’s administration, particularly those policies of economic diversification, infrastructural renewal in different sectors, stimulation of the agribusiness and ICT sector as well and all-round job creation through the youths and supportive and more robust social investment investments across the nation.
“In the past seven years, I have served as Vice President under a true Nigerian patriot, a servant of the nation in war and peace, and a man of integrity, President Muhammadu Buhari. We have, together, worked through some of the most difficult times in the history of our Nation, but we have remained focused on securing the country, providing infrastructure, and growing our economy.”
As someone rated worthy in his stewardship with the President as attested to by Nigerians, Osinbajo, a serious contender for the APC presidential ticket is taking nothing for granted; not even the comfort of being a serving VP, as he saddled himself with the responsibility of meeting delegates nationwide to afford both parties the opportunity to exchange views directly about issues of governance.
Yes, he needs their votes as stakeholders who hold the string to determine who among the aspirants will get the APC ticket to fly the party’s flag in the 2023 presidential election, but Osinbajo is more than aware that the interaction with the delegates transcends votes but also extends to governance.
His message is clear, that having worked at close quarters with Buhari since 2015 at the federal level, he is best-fit to succeed the president to nurture the seed the administration has planted and to plant, nurture and reproduce workable economic turnaround on the new ones.
“If by the grace of God and the will of the people, I am given the opportunity, then I believe that first, we must complete what we have started; radically transforming our security and intelligence architecture, completing the reform of our justice system focusing on adequate remuneration and welfare of judicial personnel, ensuring justice for all and the observance of rule of law and rapidly advancing our infrastructure development, especially power, roads, railways and broadband connectivity,” he had hinted in his declaration speech to the nation.
Other areas highlighted by the Vice President is the provision of excellent environment for businesses to thrive, taking the agriculture revolution to the next level, especially mechanization and developing the farm to table value chain; making sure that the government, its agencies and regulators serve the business community, creating a tech economy that will provide jobs for millions; enhancing our Social Investment Programme to a full-scale social welfare scheme and completing the promise of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within this decade.
He also mentioned completing the task of ensuring that all Nigerians attend school and reforming the nation’s educational system for relevance to the challenges of this century as well as completing the task of universal health coverage for all and strengthening the capacity of States and Local Governments to deliver on their respective mandates.
Above all, he noted that “front and centre of our efforts will be the provision of jobs and opportunities for our young people,” as what may form the priority of his government, if elected.
Without mischief, delegates and indeed Nigerians, understand the pedigrees of Prof Osinbajo as one to be trusted to unite the country and blunt the ethnic, religious and, or even partisan sentiments that have been at the daggers drawn among the people. The VP stands a solid chance to secure the country by taking advantage of diversity management to deepen and forge national cohesion through mutual trust.
Also, Osinbajo will restore the needed reinvigoration of the pluralized economic diversification and inclusion to rein the mammoth youth population for economic prosperity and job creation for improved security.
Since he is not bitter against any section of the country, and not picking gantlet for vengeance whatsoever, Osinbajo will trusted to be everyone’s president, not tribal, ethnic or religious, and he be equitable in distributing opportunities and dividends that come with being Nigerians from the leadership to the people.
In meeting with the delegates, Prof. Osinbajo has expressed readiness to deepen interaction with all Nigerians as partners and stakeholders, as part of the processes to ensure that the needs of the people are met in line with their unique interests.
Recently while meeting the APC delegates in Jigawa State, the VP had urged, that their decisions should be guided in the interest of the future of the Nigerian children, “we should make a decision based on the future of our children. We can make progress, we can move on. All I ask you to do is what is in the best interest of Nigeria; vote in the interest of our children.”
And when addressing journalists at the same event, Prof Osinbajo disclosed that issues being discussed are issues that concern the country – agriculture, youth empowerment, education, technology and a wide variety of issues.
However, the Nigerian political atmosphere could be fickle, it is the nature of politics itself. It is then important that delegates bear to mind the interest of Nigeria in this season as they come face to face with aspirants ahead of the May 30 primaries of the APC and be guided and courageous enough to have the nation and the fate of their children and generations yet unborn mirror before them while making the crucial decision at the Eagle Square during the party’s primaries.
As aspirants bond with the Vice President, the nation’s recovery and the best interest of their children must be accorded priority as the basis for that opportunity to be the ruling party’s delegates at a time as this.
Personal, sectional or other inconsequential considerations without the thought for the combined destiny and prosperity of Nigeria and her people must be jettisoned, while understanding that momentary gains from their poor judgement will haunt the nation, themselves and their own children in the nearest of future.
Adebayo is an Abuja-based journalist