By Etim Etim
With just a little over a month to the national convention of APC, the true character of the presidential aspirants and their messages are emerging. While Bola Tinubu is harping on his entitlement to the presidency as a ‘’lifelong dream’’, and is incessantly mouthing the issue of betrayal, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is carefully building his brand as the candidate with a deep experience and exposure who would be ready for the job from day one. On-the-job experience is the main thrust of his campaign, and he is presenting this as his unique selling point that differentiates him from the pack. In his declaration speech, the VP noted that ‘’in this period of seven years, I have served this government in several capacities, and have at the direction of Mr President, represented our country in sensitive high level international engagements’’. Speaking to APC delegates in Ibadan last week, he emphasized the same theme, noting that the experience he has garnered in the last seven years has become a divine opportunity to serve the country.
Said he: ‘’God is deliberate in everything he does, and by giving me all these opportunities to understand governance…at the highest level of our country, all of it was not just so that I can sit down and write a memoir. No. It was to come in handy one day, and I believe the time has come’’. At the Palace of the Deji of Akure in the Ondo State Capital yesterday, Prof Osinbajo stressed that being Vice President, and at some point, Acting President, he had acquired invaluable experience which, invariably, is akin to a training to be president. He said: ‘’I have served for the past seven years as Vice President of Nigeria, and I have also acted within that period when the President was away… In that capacity, I am probably the only person trained to be President, because if you’ve been a Vice President and also acting President, then you’ve been trained, and I must say with utmost humility that that is exactly how I feel’’.
Undoubtedly, cognate experience counts in all levels of governance and leadership, and this is why HR managers always train their eyes to pick the guy with the most suitable experience for the job. In a business school class about two decades ago, the American facilitator announced to my class: ‘’You were hired for your experience and the contacts you brought to the job; and you can only continue to keep your job if continue to put them at the disposal of your employers’’. The old adage says ‘’experience will never go out of fashion’’. By showing off his credentials as the most experienced and deeply involved VP in the country, Prof Osinbajo is assuring the nation that when he becomes President, his learning curve would be very short, and he would have very little or no need for handover notes. In our subregion, the VP is already well known to the ECOWAS leaders as he has represented the country many times at their meetings. In the domestic front, the VP has been involved in all the major decisions, policies and actions of the government. For instance, his role in the resolution of the #EndSARS crisis in October 2020 eventually led that led to the setting up of the judicial panels across the country is well documented.
As the Vice Chairman of the National Security Council, the VP is at home with all the security problems plaguing our nation, including the difficulty in procuring weapons for our military. He is familiar with the security chiefs, the middle level officers and even the challenges our troops and law enforcement agencies face. I know for a fact that the President has recently asked the VP to lead a committee and liaise with the service chiefs to work on the complete overhaul of the nation’s security architecture. With the little time left to the end of this administration, it is logical that the report and recommendations of this body would be implemented by the new commander-in-chief. Prof Osinbajo would most likely implement the recommendations of the report than any of these other aspirants.
This is the kind of hands-on experience that the VP would be taking to office if (or when) he’s elected President, whether in terms of our national focus on food production and attainment of self sufficiency in some staple food crops, tackling insecurity, building infrastructure, tackling unemployment and poverty or attending to the huge demands of foreign policy issues in the sub region, Africa and across the Atlantic. These experiences will also help Osinbajo to avoid some mistakes made by this administration. Yes. President Buhari has, in my fair assessment, made some mistakes. He is human. As I said in my last article, every government the world over has its own share of achievements and shortcomings. It is the duty of the successor to learn from the past and avoid repeating them.
I should however point out thatexperience is more effective if it is reinforced by the good character of the man at the top. Qualities like good communication skills, vision, competence, ethical and moral character, empathy, compassion, energy and drive, decision making skills, accountability and ability to delegate all work together with experience to produce a good leader. They constitute the contents of his heart and the nature of his character. Those who know Prof Osinbajo very well have attested to his character and noble motivations. President Buhari has publicly attested to ‘’his wisdom and loyalty’’. Statesmen like Gen. Babangida, emirs and other traditional rulers; religious and political leaders across the country have also praised him for possessing the requisite qualities, in addition to ability to bring people together and keep the country united. I hope Nigerians will make a wise decision and choose the VP as the next President.