One flaw the Nigerian political class has committed over and over again is the lack of hindsight to fish out the leader the country deserves. Every day, we express the regret of not having a Nnamdi Azikwe or an Obafemi Awolowo, or a Maitama Sule as President when we had all the opportunities. Aside from the trio, the country has, in the last 60 years, consistently thrown away the opportunity of settling for visionary individuals with measured intellectual capacity as Presidential material.
However, the problem is not that Nigerians cannot identify a good material when they see one. We know the truth but unfortunately, we have stubbornly resisted being set free. But can we blame the commoners for the errors of the past? No. The truth is that, over the years, a group of powerful individuals, mostly military lords have remained at the forefront of anointing an individual for the exalted position of the President.
Ahead of the 2023 Presidential contest, the excuse that some powerful men and women have met and agreed on an anointed candidate may not be tenable as Nigerians are now more politically savvy and conscious of the type of leader they want. After 22 years of fresh democratic experience, one incontrovertible fact that has steadily reverberated is that many things are not working in the polity. Hence, there is a need for collective effort towards getting a leader that can help us out of this current political quagmire.
Expectedly, the jostle for the presidency is hot now but the beauty of it all is that Nigerians may not necessarily look afar of this time around to settle for the best. Though the current Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, hasn’t declared interest or given any sign that he would be vying for the presidency, the signs abound that he might be the ‘David’ we are earnestly looking for.
Yes, David, that young shepherd from the family of Jesse, who was not initially considered when Samuel was to anoint another king of Israel. He was far away in the farm while other children of Jesse were lined up to be considered for the kingship position.
According to the Bible, “He was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him amid his brothers, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.
I was putting my thought on Osinbajo's candidacy together when a friend pointed my attention to our Oga, Femi Akintunde-Johnson’s Facebook post. Like many progressive minds who feel the way some of us feel, Mr. Akintunde-Johnson stylishly makes a wake-up call on Nigerians to think of Osinbajo. “In all of this hoopla…why isn’t the relatively, sanguine and sophisticated incumbent vice president not seriously considered as a strong contender for 2023 presidency?
Shouldn’t incumbency experience and unquestioned credentials matter? By the way, just in case it’s not clear, I’m referring to Prof. Yemi Osinbajo…seriously,” the senior journalist reverberated.
However, the calls on Nigerians to look in the way of the Vice President are not limited to a section of the country or particular demography. In fact, the first set of people that triggered the conversation was Northern Emirs and many elites from that zone, who to date use every opportunity to tell the world that Nigerians are blessed for having Osinbajo. From Daura to Lafia, Kano to Sokoto, the story remains the same; royal endorsement. Also, in the South-South and South-East, the Vice-President has in recent times, become a new bride because of his proactive manners in nipping in the bud, many crises that could have become national tragedies.
But perhaps the most instructive of such outings in recent time was the Vice President's visit to Sokoto and the speech he delivered at the Sokoto State University which summarily appraised the state of the nation, vis-a-vis the challenges and opportunities we are living with. Without mincing words, the Vice President charged ethnic and religious leaders to educate their followers to live together in peace and unity. He admitted that managing diversity can be politically and administratively tasking but was quick to add that diversity itself is economic strength and harnessing it properly is hugely rewarding.
It was also symbolical that the Vice-President was warmly received to the state by the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar; Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, and other dignitaries. Though a People’s Democratic Party governor, Tambuwa didn’t hide his feelings towards the Vice President. At least, it was shown on the faces of both the governor and the Sultan that in Osinbajo, they saw a man they were so pleased with.
Giving a remark at the end of the lecture, the Vice-President said, “When a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation such as ours is buffeted by economic adversity, it is natural for fault lines and cleavages to come to the fore. There will be those who argue that survival and security can only be found in the narrow circles of our tribe or creed. Indeed, it is inevitable that at such difficult times, we hear these merchants of discord seeking to divide us in order to promote their selfish political interests. “This is not a phenomenon unique to Nigeria. The rise of xenophobia, nationalism, and other forms of chauvinism on the global scene indicates that the challenge of managing diversity is not a Nigerian or an African problem. Racial, ethnic, and sectarian tensions are common to diverse societies; they are intensified during extreme economic conditions such as a recession or a depression,” the Vice President had stated.
Since the day the lecture was delivered, not a few Nigerians, have attested to it as one of the most well-researched works on the current challenge the country is contending with. At a point, individuals and organizations, who felt Osinbajo understood both the problem and the solution started promoting it as an advertorial on various news platforms. Some opinion molders recommended it for Nigerian leaders who are keen on real and positive change.
Unassuming but focused, humble and brilliant, the Vice President appears to be well-positioned to take this country out of the wood. Having being in the government for years, he knows where the shoe pinches. As a university teacher, Osinbajo is intellectually endowed to provide a purposeful leadership for Nigeria. Since age and other considerations are at his advantage, it will be suicidal to again gamble with the opportunity to anoint the Vice President and allow him to lead us from 2023.