Coming, President Osinbajo?

Except for those who are deeply gifted spiritually, Nigeria’s politics cannot be easily predicted. For instance, since former Vice President Atiku Abubakar missed a golden era of becoming Nigeria’s President in 2003, he has not been able to muster such massive support of sitting governors and political foot soldiers across the country. Atiku’s mercy that guaranteed President Olusegun Obasanjo an easy ticket for his re-election has been a setback for him.

Similarly, in the buildup to the 2007 presidential battle, Port Harcourt, the capital city of Rivers State, became a political Mecca of sorts for all manners of leaders who were racing to express solidarity and support for Dr. Peter Odili, as Nigeria’s next president. Before the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) National Convention in Abuja that buried the Odili presidential dream, the then Rivers State governor was widely seen as Obasanjo’s favourite and the ‘anointed’ one for Aso Rock.

What hit Odili in Abuja was beyond the imagination of mere mortals. The crashed Obasanjo-Odili political romance should be a major lesson for politicians seeking power and banking on the incumbent. However, while the cloud is still foggy about 2023, one factor appears to be receiving ‘popular’ support in the North. That is Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, a hitherto Attorney-General and Justice Commissioner of Lagos State under the Bola Tinubu administration (1999-2007).

A coalition of Northern youths, Osinbajo Awareness Campaign (OAC) claimed that they have launched an awareness campaign to galvanise support for Osinbajo ahead of the 2023 presidential election in Kano. With the platform, they are aiming to mobilise 20 million youths across the 19 northern states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja,  in solidarity with Osinbajo as the only ‘’trusted candidate who can consolidate the gains of President Muhammadu Buhari’s transformation agenda’’.

Speaking during the unveiling of their Kano secretariat and campaign vehicles, National Coordinator of the group, Mubarak Haruna, said that Nigeria needs the calibre of highly patriotic and genuinely detribalised leaders that can drive the country to greater heights. He pointed out that while other pro-Osinbajo groups including The Progressive Project (TPP) and Progressive Consolidation Group (PCG) are focusing on the general population, ‘’OAC is mobilising 20 million youths across various political backgrounds in the 19 northern states.’’

According to him, Osinbajo has demonstrated competence and loyalty to manage a complex entity like Nigeria, cited how he diligently stabilized the nation’s economy while holding brief for President Buhari, adding that the vice president’s pragmatic demonstration of commitment to progressive ideals, honesty and people-focused leadership by example are glaring in the Buhari administration‘s social empowerment programme, including cash transfer and trader money where several lives of poor and less privileged Nigerians across the country were positively touched.

While they have a lot of plans for Osinbajo, it should not be forgotten in a hurry that before the 2015 elections, former President Goodluck Jonathan got such assurances. Going by the utterances of Haruna, the assumption is that Osinbajo can easily harvest 20 million votes from the North if he becomes the standard-bearer of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the coming presidential poll. With such a massive ‘votes’, the election on paper is already concluded in favour of the Buhari deputy.

The issue is this, if the sitting governors of the North can betray Transportation Minister, Chibuike Amaechi, then Rivers State governor in 2015 with ease, it will not be surprising if OAC fails to deliver. For one, they are not known to be part of the Northern political establishment. The establishment has the capacity of turning the tide against Osinbajo even if he eventually becomes the candidate of APC. Through their established channels, the North can make any of their own from any of the ‘lesser’ parties president of Nigeria in 2023 with the kind of unbelievable voters that were visible in 2015.

Till the unusual happens, let all the pro-Osinbajo groups continue to keep hope alive for the emergence of President Osinbajo in 2023.

The Return of Kingibe

A mercurial diplomat and a master political strategist, Babagana Kingibe, the other day returned to the turf, sending a hard truth to those holding contrary opinions that Nigeria’s unity is negotiable. Presently, this Kanuri diplomat who took the country by storm with his Nigeria Say Baba campaign for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) presidential ticket, is our country’s envoy to Chad and the Lake Chad basin region. For Kingibe, the unity of the country is negotiable.

This living legend of the June 12, 1993, presidential election was speaking at The Sun Newspapers 2020 Awards in Lagos. He has also been Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). According to him, even the union between a husband and wife is negotiable. He, however, told separatist agitators that the land they reside in will not be carved out and taken to anywhere else if the country breaks up.

“I was born in Nigeria. I was groomed in Nigeria. I believe in Nigeria. People of my generation believe in Nigeria. We have no doubt about the fact that we have no option, but Nigeria. However, I think that a few of my colleagues believe that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable. Of course, it is negotiable. Even the unity of a family is negotiable. Even the constitution of husband and wife is negotiable.

“The moment either parties feels this union is no longer bearable, that he or she will rather go his/her way. You help them to sit down consider their condition after a careful and rational examination of the pros and cons of how to be married that they take the decision which suits them best.

“When we ever say we want to go away, I do not think they realise the going away. It is not that you carve out the piece of land, take it up and put it in other side of Ghana. The piece of land will be here. You will be here. Everybody will be here. And we all want to prosper. My appeal to everyone is, please, let us be respectful of one another. Let us not demonise one another. Let us respect the views of everybody”, he said.

Kingibe, who also received the newspaper’s ‘Lifetime Achievement Award,’ advised those seeking to leave Nigeria to consider the implications. Are you sure where you are going? Are you sure of the consequence of where you are going? Do you really feel that the grass is greener on the other side?”

“If you do, sit with your partner in respect, in mutual respect, in love if possible, but without demonising your husband or your wife because you will always remain the ex of the other person. But discuss quietly so that even if you separate in the future you can inter-relate with love and respect.”

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