Osinbajo: Service Above Servitude | THISDAYLIVE



 Oluremi Kosoko states that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has a track record of excellence in public service that recommends for the presidency

In the staccato calendar of party politics, the party convention in the penultimate year of the presidential cycle sits at the apex of scheduled events. It may be clamorous, it may be cacophonous, it may be celebratory; all those depend on the state of cohabitation within the political party at the time. One thing is for sure, it is always climactic. 

Party politics is a public cauldron in which ideas are debated and tested before the people. All the noise and fury with which they assail us counts for naught however, if they cannot gain the keys to the castle. The opportunity to implement and execute their ideas is the golden fleece; without power, all politics is futile. 

At the end of this month, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will gather for their national conventions to select their respective presidential candidates. It is at these conventions that the two persons who will square off in February next year for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will emerge.

The electorate at the national convention are the delegates. They reflect and represent a cross section of the national party, from the wards, the local governments, the states, the regions to the national. Some delegates are ex-officio, others are elected, and others still are nominated.

It is these men and women, in their thousands, that in an immediate sense hold the destiny of the nation in their hands. They are tasked with deciding who amongst the candidates presented to them would best serve the interests of their party, and consequently of the nation.

My thoughts here are focused primarily on the APC because it appears to me that in that particular contest, there is a stark choice between what has been and what could and should be. 

On the one hand there is Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a patrician politician cast in yesterday’s mold – a shadowy past, dubious personal antecedents, avaricious, more money than he can explain, a trail of triumphs tinged with treachery, tentacles running far, wide and deep, and a larger than life sense of entitlement. So far, he has run a campaign that has offered little other than self-confessed unbridled ambition.

On the other hand, there is the sitting Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, a lawyer and an academic who, from his earliest forays into public service, has manifest a desire to rise above the politics of personality and the personal, and seek to engage in the realm of ideas and service. For his troubles he has been set upon by Asiwaju’s dogs of war with sharply abusive interventions that do not even begin to speak to policies. All this suggest that Osinbajo is more feared than might first be imagined. Their apprehensions are well founded.

Because the delegates are predominantly professional politicians, for some, the relationship between Asiwaju and the VP will come into play. Dyed-in-the-wool politicians may adopt a narrow perspective, elevating the history of the relationship between the candidates beyond considerations of policy and the likelihood of good governance. Asiwaju’s henchmen have not missed an opportunity to allude to the Vice President’s alleged treachery.

Their lack of boundaries was very much on display during the Paschal season when comparing the VP to Judas Iscariot.
And what precisely is the treachery to which they allude? That the National Leader, as Governor of Lagos, appointed Osinbajo Attorney-General of the state for two terms, and later supported the choice of Osinbajo as Vice President to Buhari in 2015. Following on from that, they assert that the VP, knowing that Asiwaju has long longed and lusted for the Presidency, should not have thrown his hat into the ring.

Beware ye the dog that does not bark. Seeing as the Tinubu media machine that has thrown everything and the kitchen sink at Osinbajo, has not offered a smoking gun evidencing a specific agreement or understanding, we can safely assume that Asiwaju never agreed with Osinbajo that the latter would under no circumstances run for president.  

Those that assert that Osinbajo’s service as a two-term AG, and Asiwaju’s subsequent lukewarm support for his appointment as vice president (because he himself was deemed not fit for purpose), evidences a debt are positing that Osinbajo should submit himself to feudal bondage in perpetuity. The circumstances that our nation finds itself in require that the good of the country be the singular metric adopted by any seeking the highest office in the land. Service above servitude!

Asiwaju’s unbridled greed and insatiable lust for power are red flags that must caution all patriots. His near-total hostile takeover of Lagos State and his refusal over more than two decades to loosen his stranglehold on the state’s revenues suggest the kind of ravenous appetite that, let loose on Abuja, would further eviscerate the nation’s coffers. 

We must revisit that unfortunate and unwholesome trend wherein our politics amounts to little more than a system of financial brokerage, rendering the fortunes of the nation hostage to the highest bidder. We are more than this and must demand that our representatives be more than this. 

Our politics must not be allowed to further descend into a game of turn-by-turn, in which one patrician politician after another mounts the dais and indulges his delusions at our expense. We are all witness to the perdition that road leads to and must jointly declare enough is enough. 

Professor Yemi Osinbajo is an avowed believer in the building of institutions as the bedrock of a democratic ethos; Asiwaju Tinubu on the other hand is totally wedded to the unwarranted belief that he as an individual is our road to redemption. How long can the people be expected to endure the ravages of the rule of men over the rule of law? There is an inevitability about the consequences that will follow.

Our nation can no longer subject itself to a brand of politician that upon gaining office morphs into a licensed profiteer. What we seek is a democracy that balances rights and responsibilities, and the example for that must be set from the very top. For those able to hold their noses and suffer the noxious odors emanating from Asiwaju’s stable, I commend their intestinal fortitude. For those that seek a better and renewed nation, I commend to them the sterling qualities of Professor Yemi Osinbajo.


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