By Haruna Abdullahi
Everyone should learn from the political benevolence of President Muhammadu Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. The duo exude this democratic posture that does not choke; they give room for others to breathe politically.
We saw how the late Sam Nda-Isaiah slugged it out with Muhammadu Buhari in 2014 in the All Progressives Congress presidential primary elections. Sam lived in the image of Buhari and could go any length in defence of Buhari, but he set aside this creed of friendship and pursued his political ambition.
And Buhari, in his wisdom, never felt betrayed. He nudged his friend. This is the same attribute of a democratic free space that Atiku Abubakar exudes. Peter Obi who ran as his running mate in the 2019 presidential elections was, in fact, one of the first to declare his intention to run for the big office in 2023 – even at a time, Atiku has oiled his war power.
This same Peter Obi even went for Atiku’s declaration; someone Atiku took a gamble on by picking him as his VP against so much opposition in 2019.
In this regard, Atiku could be seen as his benefactor even more than Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Professor Yemi Osinbajo. Never is the man vexed or offended by the expression of the right of his running mate unlike what greeted us following the declaration by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo by those who feel no one should breathe because the political space is theirs for absolute control.
Nothing engenders democratic growth more than the freedom for free space, and this is what we are not getting with the interplay between Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu and Professor Yemi Osinbajo. These two represent what ordinarily would have been that breath of fresh air given their exposure to democratic tenets and experiences.
Tragically, the reverse brewed nothing but an odoriferous and toxic exchange of intolerable realities. The Asiwaju camp screaming blue murder and using all forms of unprintable adjectives to paint Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
To them, the Professor has committed the gravest of all atrocities therefore, should be banished and ostracized – forgetting that man was created a free being and not an intractable apron to the existence of another man – even identical twins grow up into separate aspirations.
There is no denying the traces of Asiwaju in the political journey of Osinbajo but it doesn’t give the justification that Osinbajo should perpetually remain glued in the shadow of Tinubu. If not for anything, he was named vice president to President Buhari because of the sterling qualities inherent in him. And ordinarily, the time under Buhari is sufficient justification that indeed he seems very prepared and capable to succeed his boss, the same right enjoyed by other aspirants in the APC.
Let Yemi Osinbajo breathe; he is a freeborn just like any other Nigerian with the right of aspirations. One perennial discourse on good governance in Nigeria has been the need to put square pegs in square holes. The declaration of the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo to run for the position of the president of the country is a positive step in the right direction. The argument has always been to vote for individuals with sterling pedigree who are also competent – and Osinbajo has it all.
At the age of 23, he was already a lecturer of law at the University of Lagos. At 33, he became a professor of law. Some have glamoured a rejigging of Nigeria’s -federalism to reflect the spirit and letter of the concept without taking into cognisance that the vice president was among the first individuals to legally question the nature and character of Nigerian federalism – when for political reasons the Obasanjo administration withheld federal allocation to Lagos State under the leadership of Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Others have argued that Vice president Osinbajo is a continuation of the Buhari administration. The very foundational idea of democratic government is premised on continuity. A lot of traducers have accused President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of taking more credit than it deserves in terms of the projects executed forgetting that the president is a firm believer in government as a continuum. No doubt this administration of which Osinbajo is part has its shortcomings but the few times the Vice President has steered the ship of the nation, positive noticeable changes were recorded – a testament that much can be done if given the ultimate mandate.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu must be introspective in this war of attrition otherwise, the beneficiary of the 2023 struggle may not come from his political dynasty. The political juggernaut must be careful not to lose on all fronts; the time he looks inward and recalibrates his strategies. A divided house cannot withstand the storm. A father does not run against his son; he prepares him for the race. Asiwaju should leave this race for Yahaya Bello, Yemi Osinbajo, Rotimi Amaechi and other sons birthed by the political realities of the time.
Haruna Abdullahi, a writer, journalist and political analyst writes from Abuja