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Osinbajo’s Problematic Ambition – The Cable Are you aware?

Osinbajo’s Problematic Ambition – The Cable Are you aware?

After several months of speculations and seemingly unending denials by his spokesperson, Laolu Akande, Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo on Monday, April 11, finally declared his intention to contest for the office of the president in 2023. The months-long delay, according to very reliable sources was ostensibly due to his repeated failure to secure Buhari’s anointing as the preferred or consensus candidate despite several entreaties and lobbying. Unfortunately for him, the APC constitution does not make room for the nomination of a presidential candidate by consensus. It is either direct or indirect primary. With time running out and less than two months to the APC presidential primary, he took his destiny into his hands and declared notwithstanding. Therefore, similar to other persons who have declared interest in the office of the president come 2023, it is apposite to also interrogate the declaration of Osinbajo’s ambition. Given his position as a sitting vice president, his ambition will be interrogated from three perspectives, namely: hard facts, soft facts and leavings.

On hard facts, Osinbajo’s performance as head of the economic management team (EMT), chairman of the National Economic Council (NEC) and chairman of the board of the Debt Management Office (DMO) for the past seven years is a complete disaster. The scorecard reflects the complete failure of the man whom the 1999 constitution saddled with the responsibility of managing the Nigerian economy. The statistics are quite damning. For instance, the price of a 50kg bag of rice has increased by 200% from ₦10,000 in 2015 to ₦30,000 in 2022 while a 50kg bag of cement has increased by 150% from ₦1,800 to ₦4,500 over the same period. The price per litre of petrol, diesel and kerosene has increased by 90% from ₦87 to ₦165, by 330% from ₦151 to ₦650 and by 110% from ₦198 to ₦415 respectively between 2015 and 2022. The price of a 12.5kg cylinder of cooking gas has increased by 204% from ₦2,800 to ₦8,500 while a Lagos-to-Abuja flight ticket has increased by 317% from ₦12,000 to ₦50,000 over the aforementioned reference period.

The official exchange rate has depreciated by 116% from ₦192.4/$ in 2015 to ₦416.4/$ in 2022 (the parallel market is currently at ₦590/$) while inflation and unemployment rates increased by 6% from 9.3% to 15.7% and by 24% from 9.2% to 33.3% respectively between 2015 and 2022. Whereas the Nigerian economy grew by 2.65% in 2015, it contracted by -1.79% in 2022 (Nigeria’s economy nosedived into a recession twice between 2016 and 2021 under the stewardship of Osinbajo). Foreign debt has increased by 268% from $10.3bn in 2015 to $38bn in 2022 while domestic debt has increased by 123% from ₦10.1 trillion to ₦22.4 trillion over the same period thus resulting in a 214% increase in total public debt from ₦12.1 trillion in 2015 to ₦38 trillion in 2022 yet with seemingly nothing to show for it. The Excess crude account (ECA) balance declined by 98% from $2.1 billion in 2015 to a paltry $35.8 million in 2022. With this kind of performance which is F9 (total failure) by any standard in the world, why did Osinbajo declare an intention to run for president in 2023? If as the man directly in charge of the economic management of the country, you failed woefully in seven years, what can and will you do differently in 2023?

As proof of the statistics reeled out above and in pseudo-reinforcement of the same, Osinbajo’s declaration speech failed to mention a single achievement in seven years. Yes, not one single achievement was mentioned in the speech because there is no achievement to brandish. How can a man superintend over a country’s economic affairs for seven years and yet, cannot point to a single achievement? Shouldn’t what he has achieved in office be the basis for campaigning for office in 2023? To worsen matters, he said in the declaration speech that he would continue what Buhari has started. That is classic hate speech and it is extremely offensive to Nigerians! Buhari failed on security and anti-corruption while Osinbajo failed on the economy. What is there to continue or build on? In saner climes, Buhari and Osinbajo would and should be apologizing to Nigerians for their abysmal failure and not even contemplating running for president. Osinbajo becoming president in 2023 is akin to giving the ignominious duo a 3rd term in office. It must not happen! Nigeria needs a fresh start and a complete break-away from the past seven inglorious years. Besides the economy, Osinbajo lectured in UNILAG and was a member of ASUU. ASUU, his primary constituency, has been on strike for months. What has Osinbajo done as VP to resolve the issue? There is a world of difference between parading paper qualifications and execution. Oratory is cheap and the incompetence is benumbing.

On soft facts, Osinbajo has a moral burden hanging on his neck and this speaks to four issues, namely: ingratitude and betrayal, and loyalty and trust. On ingratitude and betrayal, the two positions Osinbajo has held in public office have been through Bola Tinubu’s imprimatur. Tinubu first appointed him as attorney general and commissioner for justice in Lagos (1999–2007) and sacrificed his ambition by. nominating Osinbajo as running mate/VP to Buhari in December 2014 (VP from 2015 – date). Having ridden on the back of Tinubu, if Tinubu declares intention for an office, should Osinbajo indicate interest in the same office too? It is the height of ingratitude, treachery and betrayal. It shows a man who has no principles and does not appreciate favours. He is simply an ungrateful being. The speaker of the house of representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and Babatunde Fashola, minister of works, two protégés of Tinubu are equally qualified to run for the office of the president. Given that Jagaban had indicated an interest in the same office in January, they shelved their ambitions for the greater good of the south-west region. What makes Osinbajo think he is the only one qualified in the south-west to run for president? He is a bad party man. A polling unit loser with zero political structure and completely detached from the grassroots.

On loyalty and trust, while Buhari was ill and attending to his health in London, Osinbajo made some dangerous political moves including sacking Buhari’s cousin, Lawal Daura, the director-general of the Department of State Services (DSS). Osinbajo made this move and took other major steps against the backdrop and his personal wish, prayer and expectation that Buhari will not return alive. Not only did he sack Daura, he equally removed some newly appointed public office holders by Buhari and replaced them with his cronies. Examples include Alhaji Waheed Olagunju (a Yoruba Muslim) who was appointed acting MD/CEO of Bank of Industry by Buhari in 2016 but was fired by Osinbajo and swiftly replaced with Kayode Pitan, an RCCG pastor who presided over the same parish where Osinbajo presided before his assumption of office as VP. Kayode’s appointment was with immediate effect. More on Osinbajo’s RCCG bigotry later.

Osinbajo also hurriedly reconstituted the board of National Pension Commission (PenCom) by sacking Dikko Aliyu Abdulrahman as DG of Pencom and speedily replacing him with Funsho Doherty. Buhari had previously appointed Abdulrahman as DG and Funsho Doherty as chairman, both of PenCom in April 2017 but within a month (May 2017), Osinbajo undid everything. Only a dare-devil would have done what Osinbajo did. His forecast of Buhari’s making it back alive was sub-zero. He was never to be trusted with power again and hence the reason why Buhari never handed over to him again to date no matter the number of days Buhari is away on medical vacation. To complicate matters for Osinbajo, the northern establishment view his declaration for the office of the president as an affront to his benefactor and second-level betrayal. They are of the view that if this man could betray his principal (Buhari) and betray his benefactor (Tinubu), there’s nothing he cannot do to achieve his ambition and nobody is indispensable or un-expendable to him. In the eye of the north, Osinbajo will sell his soul to the devil for a pot of porridge. Therefore, such a man cannot and must not be trusted with power.

Osinbajo is not loyal to anyone but his unbridled ambition. Put simply, Osinbajo has displayed disloyalty twice. He will never be trusted again. Unfortunately for him, loyalty is the currency of politics. Once you fail the loyalty test, you are down and out. To add insult to injury, this week, Osinbajo’s campaign team released a 32-page document titled “The Plan (Abridged)” which they say he will implement to address insecurity, infrastructure, manufacturing, governance reforms and so on. The question begging for an answer is: if this man had the plan to tackle insecurity, what has he been doing for seven years? He attends FEC meetings every week and the periodic security council meetings. What does he tell them there? If he has a plan to fix security, why didn’t he share it with his boss and the security council? Did he deliberately prep Buhari’s government to fail? This is another case of disloyalty and working at cross-purposes with his principal. Why did he turn down the memo for security installation on the railway lines at one of the September 2021 FEC meetings thereby contributing to and facilitating the infamous bombing of the Abuja-Kaduna train with several human casualties? Osinbajo has been undermining this government for years and in several ways— has blood on his hands.

On leavings, despite winning and dining with politicians, public sector and private sector officials, his extensive education and international exposure, Osinbajo has unfortunately and paradoxically, remained a narrow-minded and parochial person. Osinbajo sees a Nigerian first as either an RCCG member or not. Virtually all his appointees are members of RCCG, not just RCCG members, many are pastors starting with his spokesperson, Pastor Laolu Akande. His bromance with cosmopolitan Tinubu and the Lagos political and private sector establishments over several decades was expected to have rubbed off positively on him so that he is more broadminded, accommodating and religiously tolerant. Unfortunately for Osinabjo, the more he rolled with the elites, the further steeped in religious bigotry and Christian fundamentalism he became. Given his professorship, SANship, private sector and public sector experience, Osinbajo has shown that you can take a pig out of the gutter but you cannot take the gutter out of the pig. His professorship and years of lecturing in UNILAG are a complete waste of expensive education.

The story of Osinbajo filling the social intervention programme (SIP) offices with members of RCCG and ensuring that members of RCCG benefited enormously to the exclusion of Muslims and other non-RCCG Christians is the stuff of legend. The story of how huge funds were grossly mismanaged and embezzled by members of RCCG in the SIP office is one of the reasons why President Buhari removed the SIP office from the VP’s purview gave it to the newly created ministry of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development superintended by Sadiya Umar Farouq while over 30 officers (overwhelmingly RCCG members) in the SIP office were sacked by the presidency. Several of them were investigated and found to have bought properties in the United States with funds misappropriated from the SIP budget. The quiet easing out and the decision not to prosecute the culprits was to save the VP from public embarrassment.

If Osinbajo sees a Nigerian first as either an RCCG-member or not, why does he want to become the president of a multi-religious Nigeria with a Muslim-majority population? There are non-RCCG Christians, Muslims and atheists in the country. Adeboye is 80 years old and close to the departure lounge. Osinbajo should rather declare an intention to replace Adeboye when the octogenarian retires or passes on. That would be a better and more fitting declaration and calling than wanting to be president of 200 million Nigerians. A presidential ambition based on phantom spiritual prophecy is an anaesthetized presidential dream which can only be actualised with the change of guard at the GO-level at the RCCG camp on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, not at Aso Villa where a broadminded, religiously liberal, inclusive and accommodating bridge-builder and unifier is required.

In conclusion, given the above, Osinbajo should be apologising to Nigerians for the failure of the current administration. Nigerians are worse off in 2022 compared to 2015 when Buhari and Osinbajo assumed office. Nigeria must not be afflicted twice with a backdoor 3rd term for the current Buhari-Osinbajo administration which has failed on all socio-economic parameters, measures and indices. It is an insult to the sensibilities of Nigerians that Osinbajo even intends to contest for the office of the president in 2023. What an affront!

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