By Johnson Momodu
After a lot of speculations and behind-the-scene manipulations, the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, presented Professor Yemi Osinbajo to the public as his running mate for the 2015 presidential election. The choice was not a great surprise, since the Professor’s name had always been in the air as one of the dark horses for the position.
Professor Osinbajo is a Law Professor who served as Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General under the administration of Bola Tinubu in Lagos State, between 1999 and2007. Although Osinbajo’s name surfaces in the newspapers once in a while, since that time, he is not known to be a politician. In fact, his experience in government can be said to be limited to a provincial level, having been only a State Commissioner. He is, definitely, an unknown quantity at the national level and, therefore, not a person of national significance or with appreciable national following, if any at all.
Why was Prof. Osinbajo the choice of the APC for the Vice-Presidential slot, out of the constellation of superstars who were interested in the position? The expectation was that the Vice-Presidential candidate of the Party would have been one of the serving Governors, such as Babatunde Fashola, Adams Oshiomhole or Rotimi Amaechi. An ex-Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, was also regularly mentioned. It did appear that the struggle for the position was mainly between the South-West and the South-South. Interestingly, nobody in the South-East was considered. This, perhaps, was due to the fact that the only APC Governor in the South-East, Rochas Okorocha, had contested for the Presidential candidacy of the party. The popular wisdom is that anyone who has shown such an ambition would not normally be suitable for a secondary role.
The choice of Osinbajo was a product of Tinubu’s failed ambition to be the Vice-Presidential candidate of the APC. Buhari and Tinubu were able to work together because of their mutual ambition. Tinubu facilitated the merger that resulted in the formation of the APC and bank-rolled the party because he wanted to be Buhari’s running mate. It has been suggested that Tinubu’s ultimate ambition was to be the President, in view of Buhari’s age. The understanding between the two men to run together was the reason behind the floating of the idea of a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
In spite of the general revulsion and public condemnation of a Muslim-Muslim ticket, Tinubu was still pushing his ambition, even after the emergence of Buhari as Presidential candidate. However, he could not overcome the heavy resistance from important stakeholders in the party. Nonetheless, he insisted on the Vice-Presidential slot going to the South West/ACN component of the APC, which, in essence, meant that he gave himself the right to nominate the Vice-President. It would, therefore, not be uncharitable to say that Professor Osinbajo is a proxy of Tinubu. Some might even say that the Professor is a puppet and Tinubu the puppeteer.
Professor Osinbajo may be a helpful hand in certain areas of legal or administrative matters. However, given that he has no political background, lacks any national experience in politics and governance and, considering the physical disparity obvious at his introduction, he looks more like a newly appointed Special Assistant (SA) to Buhari than a Vice-Presidential candidate. The desperation by the APC to find a winning formula has led the party to conjure a flawed combination, which may be described as a combination of fanaticism. The partnership between Buhari, who is an Islamic extremist and Osinbajo, who is a Pentecostal fundamentalist, is surely a recipe for failure, if not disaster.
Professor Osinbajo’s apologists have been quick to point out that he is a pastor of the Redeemed Church, which is to suggest that he would bring the mass membership of the church behind Buhari. Well, all I can say is that it would require a miracle for this to happen! Also, the fact of his being a son-in-law to the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, has also been advertised as one of Prof. Osinbajo’s virtues. Is it not sardonic that the name which Tinubu has laboured hard to supplant now provides a straw which he and his party now seek to hold on to in their desperate bid to capture the south-west votes for Buhari, an unrepentant religious bigot, northern irredentist and political demagogue?
Mr Momodu sent this contribution from Benin City.