By Emmanuel Onwubiko
“Journalists to Tinubu – Your Son Osinbajo has just declared: Tinubu to journalists – I have no Son grown enough to declare”
The campaigns for who would be the official flag bearer of the National ruling party of All Progressives Congress (APC) has offered Nigerians and indeed political Scientists of the rare opportunity of witnessing a political battle of wits between a godfather and his godson in the person of the National Leader of the Party and the man the national leader railroaded into office as the Vice president-: Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
It was said that the then former governor of Lagos State and the National leader of the All Progressives Congress Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu who actually was angling to be made the running mate to the Presidential candidate of their newly found party in 2014, agreed to instead recommend his trusted political acolyte who is a very Senior Pastor in the Redeemed Church of God Professor Yemi Osinbajo in the same fold as Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s wife so he could be the Vice President since it was not conventionally correct that a political party seeking the votes of voters in a multireligious Country should be seen featuring a Moslem/Moslem Ticket.
The choice of Professor Yemi Osinbajo – Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s godson was thought to be a masterstroke for his godfather who believed that he would have his way when the time comes for him to want to become the king and not just being satisfied with playing the role of the kingmaker.
All those political calculations of members of the camp of the political godfather has collapsed with the signalling of his intention to also test his popularity at the Presidential Primary election in which his godfather has since made up his mind and made extensive public declaration of his intention to now become the king since he couldn’t be satisfied with just playing the role of the Kingmaker.
Symbolically, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo waited for a very scriptural time to kickstart his campaign on a Sunday classified as Christ the King Day in which the founder of Christianity experienced the kind of betrayal by one of his acolytes Judas Iscariot that has entered the Universal book of record as one of the most insidious and perfidious acts of betrayal. That day was also a day when the Kingmaker- Christ made a successor King in the person of Peter the Rock upon which he built his Church.
I think it was also on the same day too that the man who would go on to get the position as the head of the Christian fold Saint Peter also denied Jesus Christ thrice before those who came to take him to Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-42) to be crucified. Yemi Osinbajo has embarked on his journey to political Gethsemane and intriguingly, his godfather who will now square up with him in a hot contest for the party’s Presidential ticket has also denied ever having a Son big enough to want to challenge his decision to transform to the position of a KING.
So it is fair to say that Professor Yemi Osinbajo has chosen to carry his own cross hoping that he could win the hearts and minds of his party faithfuls to be able to beat his godfather to clinch the ticket.
As I said, the day that Professor Yemi Osinbajo declared is not just a day for betrayal but also a day whereby Peter who betrayed Christ became his successor.
Why the declaration of Yemi Osinbajo to challenge his godfather for the Presidential ticket is intriguing is because the man has never denied that Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu it was who discovered him from the political land of the unknown into the consequential office as the Attorney General and commissioner for Justice in Lagos State which ranks as the busiest political position in South West of Nigeria.
The Professor even prayed for divine favours for his godfather soon after he made his public declaration to be President.
So the question to ask is why wish your political godfather good fortune and divine favour in his political aspiration as he marked his 70th birthday with his Presidential declaration made only to turn back and fight to become the Presidential flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress which will inevitably not allow your political godfather the opportunity to enjoy the divine favour you had just prayed for him?
We will see this scenario soon as we proceed.
On the day of his public declaration the media reports rightly that after months of speculation, the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, formally declared his intention to run for the country’s number one office in 2023, confirming The Guardian’s exclusive report that he has informed President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo of his ambition.
He disclosed this to journalists after a closed-door meeting with President Buhari in Abuja on Monday. In his interview with State House reporters, Tinubu said it has been his life-long ambition to lead the country one day.
“I have informed the President of my ambition but I have not informed Nigerians yet, I am still consulting. There’s nowhere in the world where a kingmaker cannot himself be king.
“About the cap of a kingmaker. I’ve never seen the cap of a kingmaker before. That is the truth. And I have never seen where it is written in the rulebook anywhere in any country that a kingmaker cannot be a king unless he has committed murder. So, whatever you write is your own opinion. Me, I want to pursue my ambition without the title of a kingmaker,” he said.
The former Lagos State governor added that he plans to actualise his ambition under the platform of the ruling APC, noting that with what he did in Lagos in his time as governor, he has the capacity to lead Nigeria.
“You will soon hear. All you want to hear is the categorical declaration. You’ve gotten that truth from me that I have informed Mr. President of my ambition, and you don’t expect more answers than that,” he said.
He shrugged the question of a potential race for the APC ticket between him and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, whose support groups have since begun mobilising for his candidacy. On Osinbajo’s potential ambition, the APC national leader maintained that he would not be drawn into any discussion on any individual.
Tinubu said: “I don’t want to discuss individuals now. I must discuss myself. I have the confidence, vision and capacity to rule, build on the foundation of Mr. President, and turn Nigeria better. I’ve done that before in Lagos State. You’ve seen that experience and the capacity to turn things around and that is what we are doing.”
Answering a question on President Buhari’s response, Tinubu said: “That’s our business. He is a democrat. He didn’t ask me to stop. He didn’t ask me not to attempt and pursue my ambition. It is a lifelong ambition. So, why do I expect him to say more than that?
“You are running a democratic dispensation, and you must adopt the principles and the values and the virtues of democracy. That’s it.” On the Electoral Act Amendment bill and what Nigerians should expect, Tinubu responded thus: “You want my manifesto now? Not yet. Not yet.
“First of all, the National Assembly and the President must be encouraged to review and review again. Whatever they come up with electoral amendment is what we must comply with. There is no unlimited elasticity in what we face, because we have to plan and plan well, and be able to manage the time effectively.
“The great roadmap to success is the ability of a leader to do what he must do at the right time that has to be done. So, to me, we will still look at the amendment bill collectively. It is our country. It’s our democracy. We had adopted it and we will push it rigorously.”
The APC national leader said as a bonafide citizen, he was in the State House, Abuja, to also discuss a number of other national issues, including security.
“I have not lost my citizenship. I came to see the President on general issues concerning Nigeria, including our political party, APC, security issues and the New Year agenda. That’s all I can tell you.”
Amongst those who showered Tinubu with goodwill on his birthday which coincided with his Presidential declaration was the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and his wife, Dolapo, who were amongst his first political loyalists to have congratulated Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State, on his 70th birthday.
Mr Osinbajo, in a statement he signed then in Abuja, prayed that God would grant Mr Tinubu strength, wisdom and favour.
Mr Tinubu, a presidential aspirant on the APC platform and first Governor of Lagos State in the present Fourth Republic, clocks 70 on March 29.
“It gives Dolapo and I great pleasure to send you our heartfelt birthday felicitations,” said Mr Osinbajo, who served as the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice when Mr Tinubu was the Lagos governor.
“And it is a unique one indeed; the Platinum Jubilee and the completion of yet another remarkable decade.
“It is also an opportune time to give thanks to God Almighty for your service to the nation – as Senator of the Federal Republic, Governor of Lagos State and a founding leader of the All Progressives Congress.”
The vice president said that in confronting the many challenges which came with the transition to democracy in 1999, Mr Tinubu showed leadership and was always ready to push the boundaries.
He said that Mr Tinubu not only queried the limitations which had beset Nigeria’s federalism, he actively encouraged the use of the legal process in clarifying the constitution.
“Asiwaju, your decades of sterling contributions in the public and political spheres are remarkable.
“In particular, your endeavours in the advancement of federalism, electoral reform, and party organisation have helped to enrich our democratic experience.
“We join your entire family, friends and associates to celebrate you on your 70th birthday and we pray that as your days, so shall your strength, wisdom and favour with God be.”
In stepping into the fray to run for the office of President to succeed his boss which clearly pits him against his godfather, the current Vice president had stated thus: “For the past seven (7) years, I have served as Vice President under a true Nigerian patriot, President Muhammadu Buhari.
In these 7 years, while on the train of duty and service, I traversed every part of our country, meeting Nigerians of every cadre, class, tribe and walks of life, both young and old; I MET YOU.
I’ve stood where you stand and sat where you sit. I know and I understand our hopes, aspirations and fears from a place of relatable proximity; and I believe that in those hopes and aspirations are the seeds for the great Nigeria that we all desire.
I believe that the very reason why the Almighty God gave me these experiences, these insights, and these opportunities, is that they must be put to the use of our country and its great peoples.
This is why today, with utmost humility, I formally declare my intention to run for the office of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, on the platform of our great party, the All Progressives Congress.
I also most solemnly and respectfully seek your support as fellow Nigerians everywhere in this land and the diaspora, as we embark on this great and exciting journey that lies ahead of us.”
However whilst we think that since he now wants to succeed his boss, there are areas and milestones that have been left untouched and that this is a signal that the Vice President is unsatisfied by the performance that both himself and his boss have offered to Nigerians which is why he now wants to repeat a tenure or two to be able to realise those unachievable milestones. Importantly, that he has kicked his political leader in his Ass on a day that Judas Iscariot betrayed his Master Christ Jesus, Professor Yemi Osinbajo’s journey to Gethsemane won’t be smoothly navigated.
His ways to Gethsemane is going to be very rough. He now has to explain why he betrayed his godfather and why he wants the votes of the disillusioned citizens whose hopes for a united Nigeria has been dashed by the combination of bad politics and crass leadership incompetence.
EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA and was a National Commissioner at the Nigerian National Human rights commission.