Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has ended all speculations, by formally declaring his intention to run for the President of Nigeria, come next year, 2023. In giving notice of this intention today, monday,11/04/2022, the Vice President said, “In the past seven years, I have served as Vice President under a true Nigerian patriot, a servant of the nation in war and peace, and a man of integrity, President Muhammadu Buhari. I am today, with utmost humility, formally declaring my intention to run for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the platform of our great party, the All Progressives Congress,”
The phrase, “a man of integrity, President Muhammadu Buhari,” aroused my enthusiasm, as a consequence of which, I was encouraged to write this article.
The dictionary gives integrity as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. People of integrity are expected to be honest, upright and righteous, with high moral rectitude. Integrity therefore, goes hand in hand with honour, or the quality of knowing and doing what is right. This is morality.
Vice President Osinbajo is a lawyer, a law professor and a Senior Advocate, whose major preoccupation should be in the direction of promoting the cause of justice. So he is very much aware of the legal implications of actions. This is legality.
But Vice President Osinbajo is also a Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, whose preoccupation is to provide spiritual leadership to members, including sermons and preaching, through the interpretation of the biblical scripture. So he is very much aware of the moral implications of actions.
I am not a lawyer, but I know the Nigerian constitution has given every person who is entitled to vote or be voted for at an election, the right to vote or be voted for in that election, including the election to the office of the President. This is legal, and as a Nigerian, and one with the requisite credentials, Osinbajo is legally right to contest.
But as a pastor, with knowledge and experience in the provision of spiritual leadership, God has placed him in a position to juxtapose legality against morality, I think. And this article intends to awaken his moral conscience, as it affects the virtue of loyalty.
This is so because he talked about integrity, the integrity of his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari. But before Buhari became his boss, he was bossed, or even built, by another boss, Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu, commonly referred to as Asiwaju, the Jagaba of Borgu.
Prior to Osinbajo’s declaration of today, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu had long made the same declaration, which he referred to as, his lifelong ambition. And he said, he had informed President Muhammadu Buhari of his ambition to contest the 2023 presidential election. If he had informed the President, and there is one Presidency, it goes without saying, that he had informed the Vice President. So there is a clash of interest here, between Tinubu and Osinbajo, and one that would highlight the clash between legality and morality.
It is imperative to have an overview on the political trajectory of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and in doing that, I would paraphrase an old article taken from the Guardian, which goes thus:
“The emergence and relevance of Osinbajo today in the national arena was powered by the political machinery of Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He is the enigmatic former governor of Lagos state who has built an empire in a scale and magnitude that many before him never achieved as governors of the state by the Lagoon. The empire has political and economic roots in Lagos but with several flourishing branches that have provided and are still providing financial fruits in many parts of the South-west, and other regions of the country. One of these branches is the person of Prof. Osinbajo. Osinbajo emerged in the political scene in 1999, when he was appointed as Lagos State Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice by Tinubu. Tinubu also, single handedly recommended and ensured the adoption of Osinbajo as the running mate of Buhari. So the relationship between Tinubu and Osinbajo should be that of a mentor and a mentee. A benefactor and a beneficiary. A leader and a follower. A relationship that was akin to apprenticeship built on the expectation that one man’s duel will be the cause of the other. No doubt that Prof Osinbajo was a top academic but what he learnt working with Asiwaju, cannot be found in any educational facility with the rich curriculum to have provided him those syllabi and the knowledge garnered in those years of close association, hand holding and mentoring.”
Truly, Vice President Osinbajo is free to contest against any adversary. But from the foregone, if integrity matters, if honour matters, if virtue matters, if humility matters, and if there is respect for correct behaviour, should that adversary be Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu, under whose wings he prospered? To contest against the lifelong ambition of your benefactor?
Like the Julius Caesar’s remark, when he was about to cross the Rubicon, the die is certainly cast. Osinbajo had made a decision with evident irreversible consequences. And that decision is to promote the infidelity of integrity.