The writer of the original article headlined above is a fine columnist no doubt, but it seems like he doesn’t understand that much about the intrigues of politics and politicking.
On Monday, June 20, in a piece published by The PUNCH, Tunde Odesola claimed that the contests between the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, was akin to the 1988 super heavyweight weight bout between Iron Mike Tyson and Michael Spinks, which Tyson won in 91 seconds.
A super heavyweight fight the presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress may have been but it was certainly not a humiliating defeat for the vice president.
The vice president was about the only aspirant that crisscrossed the nation to meet with delegates of all the 36 states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory to consult with them on his presidential bid. He met with state governors and their deputies, traditional rulers and major stakeholders of the APC nationwide.
VP Osinbajo put in the works; he showed his commitment and dedication to a worthy cause, to give himself fully in service to the fatherland. If he was given the opportunity, he always emphasised in his nationwide consultation series that he would hit the ground running from day one. Osinbajo’s intention—to give dedicated service to Nigeria—was clear to Nigerians from April 11, when he officially declared his presidential ambition.
The APC Special Convention and Presidential Primary, which held between June 6 and 8, may have come and gone, but the ripple effects are still being felt nationwide.
It also shed light on why the controversial delegates’ voting process should be reviewed for party primaries if the winner is elected, not by the superiority of his manifesto or genuine intentions of service to the country, but by how much the aspirant can buy and bully his way to power through allegedly fraudulent means and political gangsterism and blackmail.
Tinubu may have won the primary with 1,217 votes, amassing significantly higher votes than Osinbajo and former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. But analysts are unanimous that the victory came with a hefty price; tainted with many controversies, including allegations of intimidation and inducement of delegates and governors with dollar rain. Some governors from a particular region were alleged to have received up to $2 million each to sway their delegates to the side of the winner.
It was evident to the viewing public that other aspirants were obviously brought into the APC primary as a strategy of deception, as they eventually had to ‘step down’ for their preferred candidate at the last minute and on the podium.
Osinbajo may have lost the APC presidential primary, but he won the hearts of millions of Nigerians who through his eyes now believe the movement that a new Nigeria is indeed possible with the right mindset and laser focus from the citizenry to achieve this.
If it had been a fair game not riddled with corruption and the heights of dirty politicking the Nigerian way. Osinbajo would certainly have won the primary.
A victory marred in so many controversies, from the allegations of fraud, irregularities on the voting day and disjointedness of the process at the beginning, which was captured by live tv cameras, is something for this writer and others to ponder on for the future of this country.
A member of the APC electoral committee, Senator Abubakar Girei, captured it well when he said that the actual winner of the party’s presidential primary was the vice president.
According to a The PUNCH report, Girei said the vice president never encouraged vote-buying during the just-concluded presidential primary.
Speaking in Kaduna last week, Girei said the VP, with his excellent track record of service to the nation, national acceptability and deputy to Buhari, should have been given the right of first refusal in the contest.
“He had the best speech and his manifesto at the convention was the best. He identified problems and proffered solutions to them more than all other aspirants. For someone who had never contested any election before and with no politicking knowledge, to emerge third at the convention, I consider him the greatest winner of the convention,” he stated.
Now, this part is obviously lost on the writer. He also conveniently forgets that Prof. Osinbajo did not come from relative obscurity before his appointment by Asiwaju as Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice. He may not have been politically renowned but prior to his appointment under Asiwaju, Osinbajo was already renowned as a senior partner at a globally respected law firm, a professor of law and dean in one of Nigeria’s best universities, and one who taught some of Nigeria’s best legal minds today. Between 1988 and 1992, Osinbajo was Special Adviser to the then Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Bola Ajibola. So, the Prof. was already balling in the big league before he was chosen for the political big league.
Yes, God uses men to paves way for their fellow men. But never for once should they dare to play God afterwards. In hindsight, Osinbajo was being prepared in the most profound ways for the task ahead. No wonder he said, “I will be ready from day one.” Asiwaju may have played a part in his political emergence but that doesn’t give him a divine right to stop the VP from aspiring for a position he is also well qualified and prepared for.
Even before he threw his hat into the presidential contest, many Nigerians saw Osinbajo as a president-in-waiting, a man who has dedicated decades of his life to public service, with records of achievement to show for it.
A famous poet once said that the man dies in all who keeps silent in the face of tyranny. Should the VP have folded his hands and just wait for an anointed coronation by the President without putting in the works to win delegates nationwide? No, he put in the works. Should the VP have chosen instead not to run and ignore the clamour by many Nigerians home and abroad who saw that he was the best fit for the job of president? No, he showed them why he was the best aspirant for the job. That alone itself is a victory of sorts.
Osinbajo may have lost the APC primary but he has awakened the quest for a new Nigeria in the hearts of millions. No, his stock has not depreciated one bit but increased on different levels. Many Nigerians, even critics and neutrals, have been won to his side simply because he decided to run for president. Our best should always run for the highest office of the land. That is what an Osinbajo for President represented. The best of us. The best among all the aspirants.
As the writer grudgingly but rightly noted, his eloquent political speech was one for the ages. In a speech full of timeless nuggets, Osinbajo told the 2,322 delegates that “when you vote tonight, know that your vote carries the answer to your prayers for the future of our children, for the future of our country.” Please read again, this time, slowly. And let that sink in.
The difference between Osinbajo and the other aspirants was as clear as night and day. The VP had no moral or political baggage, his political CV glowed like a thousand suns. But those who swayed the delegates preferred the present dollar rain to the promises of the future.
It is a shame that the corrupt-ridden money bag political system was rigged against an aspirant, who inspired hope in millions of what a new Nigeria can be, a Nigeria of possibilities and greatness.
The primary is long gone but the movement for a New Nigeria has been birthed by the Osinbajo Movement, a tribe of Nigerians that believe that this nation can be salvaged and fulfil its manifest destiny.
According to the VP, when he addressed supporters after the APC primary, “a new Nigeria has only just started, and everywhere across this land, it will be clear to all that a new Nigeria has been born.”
Osinbajo didn’t lose. He birthed hopes, dreams and expectations in Nigerians like had never been seen in its political history. This is the ultimate victory. The hope of a better country, that we all look forward to and can be proud of.
The story hasn’t ended yet. For the original writer and co, stay tuned and still hold on to that Osinbajo popcorn and ice cream. It is still time for a New Nigeria.
- Johnson, a public affairs analyst and social commentator, writes from Abuja