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Osinbajo and South West Leaders

What Nigerians Need to Hear From Presidential Aspirants

 Etim Etim opines that the recent meeting of South-west leaders of the All Progressives Congress in Lagos may have reduced the tension and hostility between supporters of the party’s leading presidential aspirants
I have taken note of the considerable reduction in the quantum of vitriol, bile and bitterness coming out of the camp of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu after the meeting of South-west leaders of the  All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos last week.

The assembly had resolved, to the relief of all Nigerians, that all aspirants from the region do have the right to contest for the presidency, and by implication, no aspirant should be harassed, cowed, abused, insulted or attacked for pursuing his political dreams. With this declaration, Tinubu’s noisy supporters, who had hitherto spent their time and energy insulting Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and calling him names for expressing interest in the presidency, have toned down their venom considerably. 

I hope that the former Lagos governor has now been well advised to refocus his campaign to emphasize more edifying contents in his messages and messaging. The nation looks forward to this truce lasting throughout the season till the end of the elections. It is also notable that several aspirants from the South West region have jumped into the race soon after the leaders’ meeting. If this is not a coincidence, it could be that the emerging political environment is more conducive, enabling and attractive to modern politicking. I commend the leaders for calling the Tinubu camp to order and restoring relative peace and decorum to our national discourse. Once again, the region has shown exemplary behaviour in the manner it conducts its politics.

The attempt to paint the VP negatively by the Tinubu people because they had not expected the VP to be in the contest was patently a flawed strategy in the first place. I just could not comprehend why they kept asking Prof Osinbajo to withdraw from the election just because Tinubu had appointed Osinbajo commissioner 22 years ago.  For one, the VP is not the first person to get into an electoral duel with his former boss. In 2003 and 2007, the incumbent President had challenged President Olusegun Obasanjo in the presidential elections of those years, and it didn’t matter to us that as a military Head of State in 1976, Gen. Obasanjo had appointed Col. Muhammadu Buhari Petroleum Minister. It was not an issue throughout the campaigns of 2003 and 2007; and I’m sure many Nigerians did not even remember this aspect of our history. So, the idea of calling another aspirant ‘’betrayer’’ was quite strange to many Nigerians who are earnestly yearning for genuine leadership, decent conversations and fresh ideas that would make our country better. With just three weeks to the convention, I look forward to reading something new from the Lagos crowd.

I am also pleased that the leader’s summit was attentive enough to extend deference, respect and courtesy to the Vice President at the meeting. The South-west leaders were wise enough not to ask any aspirant to step down, as many have feared. That would have set off a fresh round of unanticipated crisis. I salute their sagacity. By all accounts, Yemi Osinbajo is the leading presidential aspirant in APC, and he’s well on his way to emerging a candidate at the convention. His message since he got into the race on April 11 has been inspiring, assuring and full of hope. I have followed the VP’s tour around the country, from city to city, and I’ve been thrilled by his wide acceptability by elders, leaders, delegates and stakeholders from one stop to another. Prof Osinbajo has also carefully stuck to his message of experience, readiness to serve and preparedness for office as he stumps the country, and with the quietening of the din from the Lagos camp, Nigerians would now be able to hear their VP quite audibly.

 In Gombe State, the VP met APC delegates, the state governor, Inuwa Yahaya who endorsed the VP and the Emir of Gombe, Alhaji Abubakar Shehu Abubakar. He assured them that he would work for a more prosperous Nigeria and that he’d give priority to youth employment, security, agriculture, education and ease of doing business reforms, among other important areas. Gov. Yahaya said: ‘’Today is yet another remarkable occasion because on many occasions the Vice President has been coming to the state as Vice President; but this time he is coming to interact with our delegates preparatory to the primaries of our party, APC, and it is a convention that will produce him, by the Grace of God, as our next president’’. Very succinct and concise. In Bauchi and Kano, the reception has also been massive, reflecting the trend in the over 25 states the VP has visited so far.

Traditional rulers, governors as well as delegates and other party members have shown passion in their support and reception for the VP everywhere he goes. Those who underrated him at the onset have found out to their chagrin that Osinbajo is the man to beat in this race.  His rising Likeability Factor – a set of qualities that endear a candidate to voters even before the campaign begins – derives largely from the brand he has built in the last seven years. A God-fearing and hard-working leader, fiercely dedicated to his work and loyal to his boss and the country, Osinbajo has never been tainted by any scandal, either in official or private life.

Cerebral, well-educated, well-spoken and unassuming, he cuts the picture of a leader who will bring our diverse peoples together, unite the country and take us on the path of economic development. We in Akwa Ibom State are working hard to receive the VP later in the week. He’s visited us a few times before, but this time, the delegates, party stakeholders, elders and leaders are rolling out the drum and the red carpet to welcome the next President of the Federal Republic. Welcome Sir to the Land of Promise!

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