Osinbajo, MKO and the lessons of history by ETIM ETIM

For declaring to run for President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo has obviously angered certain interest groups in the country. Supporters of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu have gone into overdrive, doubling down on their malevolent campaign against the Vice President, while Farooq Kperogi has sped up the rate of release of his sinister and malicious articles against the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and the Vice President. But overall, overwhelming number of Nigerians have responded positively to the VP’s entry into the race. The reviews have been quite rave and the feedback very encouraging. His inspiring message has resonated with many Nigerians, helped largely by the fact that Nigerians already had a positive impression of him.

Contrary to the lies being peddled by some of Tinubu’s supporters, there is absolutely no pact anywhere that that remotely suggests that Tinubu would be the anointed successor to President Buhari. Similarly, there has never been any agreement or injunction barring the VP from contesting the Presidential election against the former Lagos governor or any other contestant. Nobody will ever enter into such accord in politics, anyway, although such stories usually surface at every election cycle. In Akwa Ibom State, for example, one PDP governorship aspirant has been going around bemoaning that Gov. Udom Emmanuel has reneged on the agreement he had with the governor to succeed him. Of course, nobody took him serious, and I think he had dropped the claim. Such assertions are made by desperate politicians to deceive the voters.

The anxiety in Tinubu’s camp arises from his deep sense of entitlement to the Presidency, perhaps because he’s pocketed Lagos State in the last 22 years, feeding off the treasury unchecked. He actually believes that he now deserves the whole country.

Having helped Buhari win in 2015, Tinubu certainly feels that the Presidency should be his for the asking, and for that he cronies and followers are relentlessly attacking the VP for daring to run. But Yemi Osinbajo is not Tinubu’s son; he’s not signed any pact with Tinubu and he’s not tied to Tinubu’s apron strings. Even if Tinubu nominated Osinbajo to be VP (a recent account however disputes this story, emphasizing that Asiwaju did not even support the nomination because Osinbajo was against Asiwaju being picked by the Buhari as running mate), the VP has the right to pursue his dreams, just like any one of us. That there has never been any pact between Tinubu and the VP over the presidency means that Prof Osinbajo could not be accused of being treacherous for making his intentions known to Nigerians.

Tinubu’s camp is also fond of insinuating that the Osinbajo candidacy might offend certain Yoruba traditions because the professor had once served as a commissioner under Tinubu. This is quite irritating, to say the least. Osinbajo has not been under any bondage or peonage to Tinubu since he left Lagos State government in 2007. In the same vein, the Presidency is not akin to some kind of Yoruba chieftaincy stool in which the contenders to the throne have to be subjected to some tribal traditions and convention. Osinbajo is now a national figure whose profile has burst through tribal and ethnic lines in the last seven years. I insist that the VP should be treated with utmost respect, dignity and courtesy by his South West people in general and Tinubu’s supporters in particular. A little bit of history is important here. By the time it was clear that Chief MKO Abiola had won the June 12 1993 election, he had already emerged as a towering national personality. Beating his rival, Othman Tofa in his home state of Kano was a huge electoral accomplishment for MKO and to many Nigerians, it signified the beginning of the end of tribal politics in the country. But after the unfortunate annulment of that election by the IBB junta, many activists and politicians began to insert ethnic and tribal sentiments into the popular uprising that had erupted against IBB.. Steadily, ethnic jingoists took over the mass protests and soon, the MKO brand was badly affected and the essence of the protests was defeated.

Similarly, the consistent attempts by Tinubu loyalists to denigrate the Vice President and call him names is an ill wind that blows no one any good. It should be clear that Tinubu will never triumph by dragging down Prof Osinbajo. It is therefore in the interest of the South West region if Tinubu could call his supporters to order and ask them to desist from insulting and abusing the Vice President.

Let me conclude with a line or two on Farooq Kperoqi. It is obviously that this man is on a mission of relentless, but malicious and nasty personal vendetta against the VP. The reaons are not clear to anybody I have talked to. He churns out wrong and misleading statistics to back up his sinister campaign. I know for sure that, contrary to Kperogi’s falsehood, Prof Osinbajo did not nominate Okechukwu Enelamah as Minister in 2015. He was nominated by the Obi of Onistsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Anichebe, when the late Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, had sought the monarch’s assistance in filling the Abia State slot of the Ministerial position. As a candidate Gen. Buhari endured endless media attacks in the build up to the 2015 elections. If that did not scare Buhari out of the race, and did not prevent his victory, Kperogi and his ilk will never succeed. Nigerians are wise enough to see through vile and baseless agenda of hate.

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