By Etim Etim
It’s a few days after the APC presidential convention, and I will like to commend Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for conducting a decent and effective presidential run that has inspired so many young people and motivated millions of others. Although the VP was not declared winner, there is no doubt that he’s won the hearts of millions of Nigerians across the country. It is obvious to me that APC will never win the presidential election unless Osinbajo’s supporters are in full support of the campaign. It’s therefore in Tinubu’s interest to rein in on his over exuberant supporters who believe that the best way to celebrate is to insult the losers.
To the millions of the VP’s supporters, the young and the educated middle class, please stay engaged and keep mobilizing. I’m happy that Prof Osinbajo did not yield to the immense pressure to withdraw from the race. Stepping down for Tinubu would have been the greatest disservice to the millions of Nigerians who are not only motivated by the freshness he exuded, but also looked up to his leadership. He’s the Obama of our time.
There are indications that Prof Osinbajo would stay engaged in the polity. A few days after the convention, he visited his supporters at the Campaign Office in Asokoro, Abuja, where he thanked them for their support and pledged to continue to support the party. He said: “This movement is a movement within a party. We are not doing something that has not been heard of before. What is new is that we have a firm belief that a new Nigeria is possible and it is possible through us who are here. “We went to the convention, and the results showed us clearly that we lost, but it is only a battle, it is not the war. There are battles ahead, but we will win the war for a new Nigeria. I have no doubt in my mind that we will win that war for a new Nigeria. “That is why our movement for a new Nigeria must remain strong and firm. And we will do everything to keep our movement strong and solid.”
According to the Vice President, despite the result of the APC Presidential Primary, “the dream of a new country remains alive and well… We will have at the back of our minds, that what you have started in the various movements, coming into one, is the seed that will birth a new nation. You and I know the time has come and we will devote everything to it.
“I am committed and will remain committed to that dream (of a new Nigeria), for as long as you are willing and recognize that we have not yet written the story of this country, we have not yet completed the story of this country. As a matter of fact, the story has just begun, this movement has just started.”
The VP further said, “a new Nigeria has only just started, and everywhere across this land, it will be clear to all that a new Nigeria has been born. Once the genie comes out of the bottle, you cannot put it back. The word has been spoken; it cannot be taken back: it is time for a New Nigeria.” Thanking Nigerians at home and abroad, including the Osinbajo supporters’ groups, for the overwhelming support for his presidential bid, Prof. Osinbajo noted that “when we started this race, I never believed that we would have so many young men and women who would believe so passionately in the cause of a new Nigeria.” These are the words of a fighter who is not quitting.
There are a few lessons to learn from the outcome of the primary. First, Nigerian politics is still driven by religion, ethnicity and corruption. Apart from bribing the delegates, I understand that a certain aspirant paid as much as $3 million to each governor, especially the Northern governors. Even the family of a very senior government officials received luxury largess like houses in Dubai. It is a big damage to President Buhari whose anti-corruption campaign has earned him international renown.
The Tinubu win has further stimulated spirited discussions on his frailties. No matter whom his running mate would be, Tinubu has inevitably become a risky standard bearer for his party. The specter of the Muslim-Muslim ticket has become the most controversial political issue today and an incubus on the Tinubu ticket. Suddenly, Tinubu’s victory is no longer perceived as a Slam Dunk as it was earlier presented. He is now being defined by a single issue. I have warned in my previous interventions that the mood of the nation in 2022 is different from that of 1993. We did not have Boko Haram, ISWAP, church bombings and blasphemy killings thirty years ago. I cannot therefore imagine what would happen, if in the midst of these, we are presented with a ticket that excludes the huge Christian community from the top echelon of the nation’s political leadership. In addition, Tinubu looks visibly unwell. His frailty last Wednesday was visibly embarrassing to even his most ardent backers.
And this brings me to the Buhari leadership. The President’s vacillation on his preference in the last week of the convention is quite emblematic of his personality and leadership style in the last seven years. It is now up to him to bear the consequences of his indecision and lack of decisiveness.