By Shola Ilesanmi
From time immemorial, politics in both developed, developing and even the yet to be developed nations has never been immuned from the pull-him-down-syndrome as even in the face of incontrovertible excellence, some people would just take pleasure in creating acrimony, bitterness and confusion just like we have in other spheres of human endeavours.
While the patriotic ones are busy and committed to ensuring any opportunity to be part of governance is an avenue to be the change much hoped and advocated, detractors are always on the hedge looking for opportunities to undermine hard earned success.
It is even much more worrisome in a country like Nigeria where a few divisive, parochial, unpatriotic elements continually feast on the naivety of many gullible Nigerians to propagate politics of pull-him-down at all cost flying the kites of religion, ethnicity, and tribe.
The question then becomes when are we going to at least have some sense of humanity with respect to a mindset that seeks to put national interest above primordial, selfish and unpatriotic sentiments.
There is no gainsaying that the Buhari/Osinbajo team is perhaps the best the country has had since the return to democracy based on not just the credibility and capacity of the duo to deliver, but given the circumstance and marriage of exigency which brought them together in late 2014 and eventual termination of the PDP dream to rule Nigeria for a whooping 60years!
Interestingly, both Buhari and Osinbajo have in the last two years carried themselves with candour and statesmanship, qualities very lacking in a typical Nigerian politician, little wonder all conspicuous, surreptitious, cabalistic and clandestine efforts at throwing spanner in the wheel of the cordial and robust relationship between the duo have always hit the rocks. Both of them perfectly understand the Nigerian terrain as one where opportunists are always sniffing around for broken hedges.
Based on this understanding, it would have been needless to reply the paradoxical Ismaila Farouk from Zamfara, for doling out the latest in the series of hatchet jobs to unsuspecting members of the public, the alleged ‘unsaintly’ atrocities of the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and his plans to contest for presidency in 2019. The reason is simple! Should he decide to contest, the ambition of his pay masters is already dead-on-arrival, a forgoten history and campaign manifestoes a guest in the closest thrash-can. However, talking about Osinbajo’s eligibility for the 2019 election in this article will only be a distraction and is therefore pencilled for another time to enable us address some of the issues raised by the only saint in Zamfara state.
It is a pity that Farouk in his so called ‘forensic analysis’ and unholy bid to hoodwink Nigerians muddled up facts and figures including insinuating that Osinbajo is surrounded by not only Christians, but church members, family peeps thus negating the federal character principle.
Unfortunately, it is a well known fact that Osinbajo despite being a pastor is not a religious bigot which is why one of his age long allies and Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS) is a staunch Muslim while many other top aides, are from the northern and eastern parts of the country.
Among them are Special Adviser, Mariam Uwais, SSA Legal, Balkisu Saidu, Director of Protocol, Abdulahi Gwary, SA for National Economic Council, Donald Wokoma, SSA Economic Affairs, Edobor Iyamu, S.A. Political, Gambo Manzo just to mention a few.
It is also on record that his entire security apparatus was inherited from the former VP, majority of whom are Northerners and practicing Moslems. Osinbajo it was gathered vehemently resisted pressure and refused to change them including his stewards and cooks who are Northerners.
On the other hand, the competence of his aides being crucified for hailing from the southwest one would have expected will be a pride to the region; from Adeola Rahman Ipaye, the erudite lawyer, Laolu Akande ( for the records is from Oyo and not Ogun as being peddled around)a versatile journalist and one of the very few Nigerians privileged to have interviewed several heads of the United Nations, US and other world leaders, to Dr Adeyemi Dipeolu, a former Director at UN Economic Commission of Africa, based in Addis Ababa.
On the issue of Okechukwu Enelemah, the fact that he and Osinbajo’s path crossed as pastors in the same denomination is not enough justification to say he nominated him, trust Nigerians, if he had blocked his appointment, following his nomination by the President, the co-travellers of Farouk would have cried fowl saying southerners don’t like to help one another. Besides are we saying his pedigree as brilliant doctor and Harvard trained financial expert is not enough credentials to have him on board the Federal Executive Council when less qualified people had been made ministers in the past.
Insinuating that Osinbajo pushed for Enelemah’s appointment at the detriment of Wale Edun is nothing but an inordinate attempt to stoke ember of discord between the Acting President and his benefactor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who he (Osinbajo) recently acknowledged appointed him even without meeting him. To agree without conceding, if Osinbajo had preferred the Igbo man over his Yoruba kinsman, does that not portray him as someone who is not an ethnic bigot?
It is very saddening that Farouk chose to be the complainant and the judge in this case by passing a verdict of gross incompetence on Olusegun Awolowo because he is the Acting President’s brother in law and was not removed during a reorganization of Ministry of Trade and Investment headed by Enelemah.
Also, a list of the newly constituted National Pension Commission Board comprising Ali Usman as Chairman, Funso Doherty, Director-General, Manase Benga, Zaki Magawata, Ben Oviosun, Nyerere Ayim as Executive Commissioners, puts to lie claims that one geopolitical zone, especially the southwest where the Acting President hails from has an edge over other zones just as facts revealed that allegations of cornering the nation’s sovereign wealth fund through appointment of cronies, and undue advantage by SimmonsCoopers where he was a senior partner before his appointment, in several MDAs is nothing but uncharitable, baseless alarm and figment of imagination of an indolent mind.
In this age of open government and new media frenzy, documentary evidences to convince Nigerians that Osinbajo uses moles to negotiate oil deals would have guagantually nailed him instead of raising false alarm against a man whose integrity earned him the VP slot. Osinbajo those around attest to his knack for integrity at any cost!
For the records, Lanre Osibona, is the SSA to the President on ICT and never in charge of the Acting President’s itinerary, not to talk of exchanging appointment deals with juicy contracts or fronting for him to raise money to build an imaginary financial war chest for 2019. In addtion, allegations of taking over the job of any minister is nonetheless very ridiculous, cheap and a slap on the competence and capability of the Acting President’s.
It is also funny and unrealistic to concur that the so-called battle between the Acting President and the cabals in the presidency is because he travels to Lagos with over 40 aides on each trip at tax payers’ expense when exigencies of office, especially since he assumed the role of President in acting capacity does not give room for such luxurious or needless travels.
It might equally be needful to ask when last Farouk attended any of Osinbajo’s service to justify his verdict on him of not being the saint he professes and whether truly he now worships baal, the god of money, power, injustice.
By the way, between those who claimed to be saints and have blatantly ruined the country economy and a sincere mind to serve, irrespective of all daunting challenges who is actually ‘the saint’?
Asiwaju Tinubu undoubtedly has intrinsic trust and confidence in Osinbajo and chose him over many who had lobbied him day and night for the Vice President slot. He sure knows he is indeed an undisputed ‘Omoluabi’ one who possesses all the virtues of a statesman, not over-ambitious and with a clear cut understanding that time and chance play pivotal roles in whatever a man would become in life.
Osinbajo’s unshaken belief in a united Nigeria is captured in his speech at the 50 years Colloquium for Biafra. Hear him “Instead of trying to flee into the lazy comfort of homogeneity every time we are faced with frustrations of living together as country men and women, the more beneficial way for us individually and collectively is actually to apply the efforts and patience and to understand one another and to progressively aspire to create one nation bound in freedom, in peace and unity”
Is Osinbajo, consolidating for 2019? YES, He his for President Mohammadu Buhari, and millions of Nigerians within and outside the country solidly behind him based on the conviction that so much still needed to be done in sustaining the gains and successes recorded in the last few years under the present government.
Osinbajo is moving round especially in the Niger delta to re-emphasize President Buhari’s commitment to lasting peace in troubled parts of the country since this is the pivot upon which there can be meaningful and sustainable development.
Is this trip being used to build the imaginary war chest for 2019? No! Has it helped stabilized the region? Yes and with prospects of lasting peace.
It would be recalled that activities of militants grounded oil production by nearly half of government’s projected figures for 2016 which had a crippling effect on the budget, over which government had pegged oil production at over two million barrels per day. Sadly enough, Between January and June 2016, there were over 1, 447 incidents of vandalisation of oil infrastructure which drastically brought oil earnings down to less 1.4 million barrels per day and was partly responsible for the failure of the budget.
The visit by Osinbajo, then VP to the Niger Delta on a peace mission was to prevent a repeat of any damage to the 2017 budget occasioned by the attacks on oil installations as well as remind the people that they remain top most priority on the Buhari’s administration economic recovery and growth plan.
It is also on record that such trips in consonance with relevant officials and ministries of government had since helped to shore up oil production to the projected average of 2.2 million barrels per day to the benefits of all Nigerians. Then what ‘statesman or saintly’ efforts can be more than this?
One is also happy that Farouk acknowledged Buhari’s implicit confidence in the capacity of Osinbajo to drive governance to profound success even against contrite scheming of so called cabals in government. Has Osinbajo justified this confidence by Buhari? Yes! Has governance slowed down in Buhari’s absence? Capital NO!
The resultant effect has been a country on course even while the president recuperates in UK and one can only pray he gets well soon to enable him return to the country to continue the change agenda that has truly shown that Nigeria is no home for looters of our collective treasure while we leave the 2019 game till the appropriate time.
Finally to the sponsors of Ismail Farouk, the hatchet job commissioned against the personality of the Acting President merely confirms you are undoubtedly intimidated by how he (Osinbajo) has been a good team player, reliable partner, and trusted ally for Buhari just as his credentials and acceptability should he decide to run for presidency in 2019 is already your chronic migraine that has defiled medical, political and even spiritual solutions. Kindly note that the Nigerian presidency is not the hegemony of any tribe, ethnic or geopolitical zone. Man only needs understanding of time and chance, times and seasons and that nobody gets anything except it is given from heaven.
Shola Ilesanmi, is an Akure based journalist.