By Babatunde Obele
During a recent weekend ritual of visiting the barber, I met two elderly gentlemen on the same mission of having a haircut. As we sat down at the lounge, awaiting our turns, there was a news commentary on television focusing on the subject matter of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s declaration to run for the office of the president and the prospect it holds for a better Nigeria.
As we were watching and musing over that news commentary, one of the two who later introduced himself as Mr. Alhassan Lawal, made a statement that opened the floor for discussions amongst the three of us. He said: “I have lived all my life in this country, and I have come to a point of almost giving up on our nationhood. But Prof Yemi Osinbajo’s bold attempt of declaring to run for the office of the president has given me a reason to believe again.”
Explaining the unfolding political realities in our nation, Mr. Lawal waxed philosophical, stating that “the major limitation to social progress in any society is for the few good men and women, who have the requisite experiences, to be bullied into silence by those politicians who are too ambitious for power.” These are words on marble!
Quoting Plato, the other gentleman said: “one of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors”. This not only explains the present situation in our nation, but also serves as a clarion call to all men and women of knowledge and goodwill who have been on the side-lines for far too long, to summon the courage like Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN and stand up in defense of our nation’s manifest destiny at such a time as this.
As I sat there, listening to these informed gentlemen, I concluded that Prof Yemi Osinbajo’s bold declaration for the office of the president serves a dual purpose.
First, it serves as a mark of honour to President Muhammadu Buhari who has, “out of his open-mindedness and generosity”, ensured that Prof Yemi Osinbajo was given very serious responsibilities either officially as acting President or even being fully in charge when he was not so designated in the last almost seven years of their presidency. Any keen observer, who has given serious attention to the undercurrents of Buhari’s presidency will agree that one of the most distinguishing attributes of Buhari’s administration is the cordial relationship between President Buhari and his Vice, a thoroughbred intellectual who has displayed an uncommon level of loyalty to his boss in service to our nation.
Just to help you understand the level of trust that exists between these great sons of Africa, consider the fact that Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, happens to be the only Vice President who has been given the rare opportunity to serve three times, as Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria since the beginning of the Fourth Republic.
In fact, the Vice President, himself, reiterated this recently when he visited the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Ogunlade Aladelusi, as part of his tour of states to meet with the All Progressives Congress (APC) delegates and political stakeholders ahead of the party’s forthcoming primaries.
“So, I believe the hand of God must be on anything we are doing, but I declared my intention based on first, the fact that I have served, again by the sheer grace of God, I have served for seven years. President Muhammadu Buhari, just out of his open-mindedness and generosity ensured that I was given very serious responsibilities as Vice President, and I also acted as President.
In those capacities, I got to know so many things that most people will never come across, even people in government will never come across and I gained a lot of experience on that account. Many times, the President, when he was away, said pointedly to me that, look, I don’t want to fetter your discretion in any way as Acting President. You are President. Just make sure you are fair and just. Don’t refer anything to me, don’t ask me any questions, just do whatever you need to do.” What else can one say?
Secondly, it also serves as a clarion call to all men and women of knowledge and goodwill from across the country, irrespective of tribe, religion, or political affiliation, to make a decision towards ensuring that the office of the president and other key offices within our national structures, are occupied by only the best amongst us.
Nigeria is blessed with fantastic human resource, but for far too long, our national output has not reflected our individual capacities and one of the major reasons it has been so is because majority of our best minds have remained mostly as spectators on the side-lines when it comes to participating in active politics and governance.
And because nature abhors vacuum, it gives room for our second-class minds to take over a greater part of our national structures. Every informed mind knows that a nation may be endowed with extra-ordinary individual great minds, but such a nation may not make any significant progress on the global scale until the best minds begin to take charge of politics and governance.
Active participation of men and women of knowledge and proven integrity is what serves the common good and guarantees socio-economic progress.
That, perhaps, explains the excitement, which has been displayed by majority of our citizens since the Vice President declared his intention to run for the office of the president on the 11th of April 2022. In fact, that excitement had been building up even before he made that bold declaration.
From north to south, Muslims and Christians, men and women of goodwill who believe deeply in the promise of a greater Nigeria are excited because providence has given us Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN a man who has not only been trained on the job, but also represents the best amongst us, to help mobilize the unprecedented social capital within our nation towards building the Nigeria of our dreams.
That same excitement is also finding expression in the opinion of notable citizens, including Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd). Babangida had while receiving one of the numerous Osinbajo support groups in his Hilltop residence in Minna described Osinbajo as “a good man.” ” I know the Professor very well. He is a good man, and we need a good man to run us in this country.
Somebody you can learn from; somebody you share a common conviction with. He is a man who has conviction about this country, a man who believes in this country, a man who can communicate with the country and inspire people to achieve a greater goal for the country,” adding that“such a person is a worthy person that we should all support.”
In the final analysis, when we have the moral courage to rise above self-seeking and pecuniary considerations, we would conclude that Nigeria really has a date with Destiny in 2023 and Osinbajo is, indeed, the representation of the best amongst us. May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Obele, a sociologist, writes in from Abuja