Etim Etim makes a strong argument for the emergence of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress at its May 30 national convention
As the governing party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), prepares for another national convention on May 30, this time to elect its Presidential Candidate for the 2023 general elections, I wish to share my thoughts with the delegates on this very important assignment. With so many aspirants to choose from at the convention, it is important that the party approach this sacred duty with the full contemplation and thoughtfulness that it deserves. As we do know, President Buhari has worked hard and achieved so much in the last seven years, despite some challenges we face as a nation. There’s been a substantial boost in food production since the inception of the administration. We are practically self-sufficient in rice production now. The government has also accomplished a lot in infrastructure. No government since 1999 has invested so much in building roads, bridges, airports and railways as the Buhari administration, in addition to the social investment programmes (school feeding, cash transfers to the very poor, grants to small and micro businesses, etc.) and ease of doing business, among others. All these were done in spite of two recessions and a pandemic. The Buhari administration has also recorded huge achievements in its fight against corruption in the most unprecedented manner in the history of our country. But insecurity and other challenges abound.
There is therefore a strong need for APC to win next year’s presidential election and build on the huge achievements of this administration. The party must field a candidate who has a national appeal, acceptability and likeability to win the election. The candidate should possess the capacity, competence and character to deepen and broaden the accomplishments of the Buhari administration and honour the legacy of the president. The Presidential candidate should not, under any circumstance, be ashame of the Buhari legacy and try to distance himself from the government, its achievements and shortcomings. That would be a very dumb strategy that would lead to electoral disaster. It is therefore important that the candidate should be a man who has been part of the successes of the last seven years; who is proud of, and loyal to the government, and would continue to defend it., especially when the acrimonious attacks set in.
I have been a member of APC since 2014, and have served the party at various levels. I have served the party at many levels, including working in the publicity and media directorates of two governorship campaigns. I believe in the programmes of APC and the party’s ability to build a new and stronger Nigeria. I am proud of the work President Buhari has done with the support of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Of course, I am also quick to admit that the administration has made some mistakes, and so, there are plenty rooms for improvements. As I said in a previous article, every government has its own fair share of accomplishments and failings. This is not an exemption.
APC must therefore field a man of vision; a unifier who has the ability to see opportunities in our challenges. He should be a man of strong moral and ethical standing; an experienced leader who is blessed with good physical and mental abilities. Our candidate must not carry a baggage of shame, disrepute and opprobrium into the election. We must reject aspirants who are obsessed with state capture – I mean those politicians who feel entitled to the resources of the country as if Nigeria is their family estate.
The main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), I understand, is planning to mount the most visceral attacks against our party and our presidential candidate when electioneering begins in earnest. It would be very difficult or impossible to defend or excuse personal failings in what would certainly be a tough presidential race. The recent announcement by the NDLEA that political parties should subject their presidential aspirants to drug tests by the agency in order to eliminate drug addicts and substance abusers from the race has caused quite a stir and anxiety. I understand that this announcement was made in response to prodding from the international community. As you do know, Nigeria is battling a huge drug scourge. The UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) is interested in our case. We must therefore nominate a candidate who is above board in all respect.
The party must eschew tribal and religious bias in choosing its nominee. The choice must reflect the diversity, balance and plurality of our nation. Our country has been infiltrated by religious extremists and violent rightwing groups who are ready and willing to use religion to cause violence. It would be very dangerous for our party to toy with the idea of Muslim-Muslim ticket or Christian-Christian ticket. Our country has endured so much. We cannot afford to deliberately bring more crises upon ourselves. I enjoin party members to continue to respect the plurality and diversity of the Nigerian federation.
I know that APC members are capable making a good decision at the Convention, but I sincerely believe that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will be a very good presidential candidate for our party. He represents the best of Nigeria and the best in all of us. Prof Osinbajo has the moral rectitude, mental and physical stamina and the strength of character.He has stood by President Buhari in thick and thin. There’s never been a more loyal, dedicated and capable Vice President in this country. His wide acceptability nationwide across party lines, ethnic divides and religious boundaries makes him a natural choice as our presidential candidate. Please nominate Yemi Osinbajo on May 30th.