By Wisdom Mgbebuihe
As the 2023 presidential elections approaches especially as political parties have just this month to choose their presidential candidates, it is imperative that all men of goodwill and who love our nation to speak out and point the way for the nation to go especially as it has to do with Nigeria’s next leader. Although Nigeria has made some progress on the path to being a developed nation, much more needs to be done and everything concerning the progress of any nation lies squarely on its leadership.
For the 2023 elections quite a number of persons have thrown their hats into the ring. Political gladiators and pretenders have since joined the fray such that there are over 40 or so persons across political parties who want to be voted into the high office. To my mind several of the characters who are buying nomination forms from the various political parties ought to be looking for bed spaces in Kirikiri or Kuje prisons.
What with unexplained wealth and the vast sums of money they are usually seen to throw around. Some even use bullion vans to do this! Quite a number are actually brief case billionaires with no factory producing a pin. They have simply made good at the expense of our society because they have held political positions. In fact quite a number have corruption cases with allegations of looting billions of Naira hanging over their heads. So these ones have challenges as to their integrity.
Others simply lack the competence in my view for the high office of the president. They are not problem solvers or hardworking and resolute persons. They are also not unifiers or cautious and calm persons. Many of them also lag behind in the worthwhile experience required for the office.
On this note, it becomes a necessity for us as a people to literally ‘shine our eyes’! We cannot afford to take an arm chair position on the matter at hand lest Nigeria falls into the hand of a real pathological thief who will barefacedly loot without qualms and still carry himself on as a ‘leader’ or some sort of ‘statesman’ or to some inexperienced, ingenuous or naïve fellow.
If anything, we need a competent leader with experience at this time. Leadership according to Homer means “to be both speaker of words and a doer of deeds.” And competence is a good blend of skills and knowledge. We therefore need a person who is both a speaker of words and a doer of deeds with a good blend of skills and knowledge.
In my candid view taking a look at all the aspirants that have thrown their hats into the ring, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is a true definition of a competent person with leadership experience to lead Nigeria to the future we so crave for.
I believe the words of Oba Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin recently who said, “We don’t have to over flog (Osinbajo’s) credentials; they speak for themselves anywhere. I always admire (his) eloquence.” The revered monarch further added that, “There is no gainsaying that (other aspirants are) all probably shivering because of (his) credentials; coupled with (his) calmness, (his) humility and great respect for culture and being a true man of God, who has the fear of God in his heart.”
A nation in search of national transformation at this critical time in our journey must ride on the wings of competence and leadership experience.
For a start, Osinbajo is a professor of law and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria with an excellent educational background. From early school years on to his undergraduate studies at the University of Lagos, he has been decorated with over six prizes for excellence. He is a Barrister and Solicitor of Nigeria’s Supreme Court after and holds a Master of Laws degree obtained from the prestigious London School of Economics & Political Science. An accomplished scholar, teacher, lawyer and administrator, the vice president remains one of the nation’s leading experts on the Law of Evidence, National and Regional Corporate Commercial Laws and Public Law.
His service to this nation began with his appointment as a Legal Officer with Bendel Development and Planning Authority (BDPA) during the one-year youth service programme from 1979 –1980. He has also been a lecturer at the University of Lagos, where he rose to the rank of Professor of Law in 1994. He has worked as an Adviser (Legal Advice and Litigation), to a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Bola Ajibola, KBE.
Osinbajo represents the model of a professional playing an exceptional role in politics and nation-building. This was evident when he served as a Member of Cabinet of the Lagos State Government as Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice between 1999 and 2007. While in public office as Attorney General, Lagos, he is credited with undertaking far-reaching significant judicial reform in Lagos State, addressing critical areas as judges’ recruitment, remuneration, training and discipline with zero-tolerance for corruption. In addition, he addressed access to justice for the poor by establishing appropriate institutions in the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) and the Citizens Mediation Centre (CMC).
The professional and intellectual prowess of Osinbajo has earned him a place on international assignments as Staff Member, United Nations Operations in Somalia, Justice Division, UNOSOM II. Member, United Nations Secretary General’s Committee of Experts on Conduct and Discipline of UN, Peacekeeping Personnel around the globe, Member, 2006. He is also a member of associations such as the International Bar Association and the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and has served on the Nigerian Body of Benchers and the Council for Legal Education of Nigeria. He was also an independent director of CitiBank Nigeria and an ethics adviser to the board of the Africa Development Bank (ADB). He has authored several books.
Politically, he is involved and versed. Right after the formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Prof. Yemi Osinbajo was tasked with other notable Nigerians in the party with the development of a manifesto for the new political party. An assignment he took on with the team and delivered adequately which culminated in the presentation of the “Roadmap to a New Nigeria”, a document published by APC as its manifesto in 2013.
On 17 December 2014, the then presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Muhammadu Buhari chose Osinbajo as his running mate and vice-presidential candidate for the 2015 general elections. With their victory at the polls, they were on the 29th of May 2015 sworn in for the first term. The mandate was renewed with their re-election in the 2019 Presidential Elections for a second term in office since May 29, 2019.
It is evident to any honest observers that in his service as vice president and sometimes as acting president these past seven years that he has demonstrated decency, excellence as well as competence and this is quite commendable. He was so good that he got characterized as the ‘Star boy’ of the Buhari administration. One can also not deny that he obviously has garnered valuable and worthwhile experiences that place him in a good stead to take the nation to greater heights.
One was not therefore surprised that in a recent nationwide survey carried out by the Intellectual Forum on Politics and Governance (IFP&G) Osinbajo is reportedly the preferred candidate of Nigerians to succeed Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s next president in 2023. That is actually the view in most street corners as one speaks to people from my own observation.
Prof Yemi Osinbajo is not only competent and capable; he also has a more solid and better experience on the situation of things facing Nigeria now as compared to other aspirants. He is thus better positioned to drive solutions to better our lot as a nation in record time post 2023.
Consequently, it would be in our national interest and for the common good of our nation for his party’s (the APC) delegates to choose him as their presidential candidate for the 2023 elections at their party’s presidential primaries and for Nigerians to elect him into office as president come May 29, 2023.
Mr Mgbebuihe, a Consultant and Teens Development Specialist at Project R.E.S.T (Raising Excellent Standard among Teenagers) writes from Owerri.