That jostling for relevance on the next presidential elections has begun is no longer news. Hardly can you go on the main and social media outlets without mention of the coming election, directly or otherwise. And one recurring decimal appears to be whether the Vice President, Pastor Yemi Osibajo (PYO) will run for president or not.
I hope to do a series on this issue, so this 1st installment is to address the apparent and subtle harassment of PYO by supporters of his ‘political benefactor’, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the Jagaban Borgu (Jagaban). At one end of the spectrum, you have folk who feel that PYO owe Jagaban an unflinching loyalty not to have political aspirations that may rival that of ‘his benefactor’. On the other end of that spectrum are those who want to move ‘heaven and earth’ to ensure that PYO’s right of contest is not prescribed, because they see him as a ‘better alternative’ for Nigeria. Either end of this spectrum, if not properly managed, will spell disaster for the APC.
And if this is not properly managed, the party might lose the coming presidential elections by an own-goal. Of a truth, there are others equally qualified in the party who have their eyes on the presidential ticket of the APC, so this first part is not to discount their worth, please. Equally true is that as at the time of writing this piece, only Jagaban has declared his intention to contest. PYO (either by strategy or because of dithering) has yet to so declare.
However, a good starting point for my humble solution to this emerging furore is to restate that every eligible Nigerian adult has a constitutional right to offer himself/herself for political office. This is an inalienable right, not limited by fealty or brotherhood. This has to be made clear. So, my solution is that regardless of his political precedents and how he came to become what he is on the national stage, PYO has every right to aspire to a higher office.
My second solution (by way of counsel) is that it therefore serves no useful strategic purpose for supporters of Jagaban to begin a process of denouement of PYO. One has read several statements attributed to known supporters of Jagaban that: (a) allude to PYO’s silence on the matter as a ‘stab in the back’, ‘bitting the finger that fed him’ etc.!, (b) question the propriety of PYO’s alleged service to the nation, as nothing to write home about (meaning it has been 7 years of waste!), (c) trying to ply dirt on a man many (friends and foe alike) agree has not been tainted by high offices he has held so far. And these are only the printable ones!
My third solution is that If anything, these attack stratagem, rather than portray strength, shows there is panic in the camp of Jagaban, that one who is thought to be a pliant, ‘harmless’ touch holder for the main man of the house is able to unseat that father of the house! And this panic-mode is gold to the opposition; blood in the water for blood hounds to sniff out and attack with. And this could possibly lead to rupture in the camp of those who genuinely prefer Jagaban, but also love PYO for who he is, and his service record. Wisely, Jagaban himself has stayed above this fray, at least publicly.
Does anyone remember the travails of President Goodluck Jonathan from some members of his own party before the 2011 presidential elections, and how this lead to a coalescence of help around his then undeclared candidacy? President Jonathan not only vanquished those foes from within, but went on to win the presidential elections that followed, riding on this wave of sympathy, among other reasons. The mode of his victory however (despite a fractured house in his party), set president Jonathan up for a handicapped presidency that finally unraveled in 2015! A word, they say, is enough for the wise.
Let me conclude this first part this way: whether PYO runs or not is his decision. If he chooses to run, it will be counter productive for anyone to try a phd (pull him down) on him. Why? He still holds executive office, which can be deployed willingly or otherwise to weaken his party. He will still have supporters (including first time voters) who will be aggrieved. Remember the saying the enemy of my enemy is my friend? Believe anything else from this, you truly believe pigs can fly!
The best way for both the ‘Jagabanistas’ and ‘PYOers’ is to find common ground, even if these two elephants need to tussle during party primaries. There must remain grass to work with post party-primaries!
(C) Adewale Adeniji 07022022.
(Disclosure: This writer is a card carrying member of the APC)