There is no doubt that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has warmed himself into the hearts of most Nigerians given his disposition to issues since he assumed the country’s number two position in 2015 despite the fact that the powers of a Nigerian vice president depends on the duties delegated by the president. Unlike some former vicepresidents, Osinbajo has enjoyed a near-perfect working relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari.
He had on several occasions been saddled with running of affairs of state as acting president in the absence of his principal and there is no doubt that he performed to the admiration of many.
Though there were arguments for and against his sincerity of purpose at some point, there was no doubt that Osinbajo displayed disposition to dialogue as a veritable tool for crisis resolution.
This, perhaps, informed why many Nigerians believe that he is the right man to succeed Buhari and the consequent calls for him to join the 2023 presidential race.
The first of such calls was six months after the 2019 presidential election that saw the re-election of the president and his vice, but Osinbajo refrained from making comments on the issue. He, however, broke his silence, yesterday, when he publicly declared his intention to step in his principal’s shoes.
The vice president, whose declaring speech was titled: “Why I am running for president,” pledged to take Nigeria to greater heights, having been with President Buhari through some of the most difficult times in Nigeria’s history.
He added that his experience as vice president places him in a vantage position to continue from where the All Progressives Congress (APC)- led administration will stop on its Next Level Agenda. However, the questions against the declaration are: Now that Osinbajo has braved the odds to declare for the 2023 presidency, does he have the political structure for such venture?
Is the Professor of Law, who once served Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Lagos State, ready to square up against his benefactor and National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who is also in the race for the APC presidential ticket? Whereas the vice president would be banking on the support of Buhari’s camp given his loyalty to the president and the backing of the youth, the contest for APC’s presidential ticket is a party affair.
Against this backdrop, the roles party structures at the various levels and financial strength cannot be dismissed. While many believe that there is no way Osinbajo would have thrown his hat into the ring if he had not received blessings from Buhari, there is no doubt that politics of 2023 has taken the shine off the revelry between them since inception of the second term of their administration.
Many had wondered how Osinbajo got his politics wrong that warranted the treatment meted on him but some discerning political minds came up with several conspiracy theories. Foremost among the notions was the 2023 presidency battle.
Though some analysts criticized the vice president then for playing the ethnic card to secure the votes of his zone for his party, others reasoned that there was more to the comment. It was advanced that Osinbajo indirectly gave a hint of his ambition.
This, perhaps, informed why some members of the presidency cabal, who want the North to retain power beyond 2023, came out to ensure that the vice president was clipped in order to dim his chances of succeeding Buhari. For instance, some of Osinbajo’s loyalists, at the composition of the present federal cabinet, claimed that they were ignored by President Buhari.
The claim was not out of place as many had expected that the vice president would at least have a say in who gets the ministerial slot for his home state – Ogun.
The slot was rather handed to the camp of the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. It was also perceived that Osinbajo was stripped-off of executive powers by the President, when at the inauguration of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on August 21, 2020, he directed his ministers to channel all official communications meant for him through his then Chief of Staff, late Abba Kyari.
While denial has always been part of politics, the picture of intrigues inside the presidential villa became clear, when Buhari approved the constitution of the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) to replace the Economic Management Team (EMT) headed by Osinbajo.
Again, the coming on board of EAC was viewed in some quarters as part of the grand plot against Osinbajo, but the presidency and the vicepresident played downplayed such belief but the fears of most analysts was confirmed a few days later, when the vice president received a memo that directed him to seek presidential approvals for agencies under his supervision.
While there is no doubt that political developments in the coming months will determine the 2023 presidential fate of the man who became the country’s vice president against all odds, Osinbajo would have by now, understood that dogs eat dogs politics as the game is all about interest though played under the cloak of principle most times.