Deliver Yemi Osinbajo: Open Letter to APC Presidential Primary Delegates

VP Yemi Osinbajo

 

V.P. Yemi Osinbajo

 

Professor Olusola Adeyeye, a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a strong supporter of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo has written an open letter to All Progressives Congress (APC) delegates, stating why they should choose him in the primary election.

Adeyeye based his arguments on three very important issues because, at this point, as he put it, nothing much needs to be said. The first is about leadership and direction, the second is the reaction of the main opposition party and their supporters to APC’s approach and the third is, not surprisingly, a few words about the man he is trying to sell to the delegates- Osinbajo. Adeyeye urged the delegates to consider what he had to say on this matter wholeheartedly before they make their epochal decision on the floor of the Convention.

He added: “A disciplined, focused party will follow its leadership to achieve the objective of that leadership as long as the objective is in the interest of Nigerians and members of the party. We have many leaders in the party but, as we all know, the leader of leaders, the one leader of the party that everyone must look up to and defer to is the President.”

What are the other points he raised? Read all in his submission below:

 

DELIVER YEMI!

(AN OPEN LETTER TO ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS DELEGATES FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY)

By Olusola Adeyeye

I do not like delegates elections, even though I admit they are necessary in a democracy because not every election will require that all the people vote. The people elect representatives precisely to help with some electoral decisions.

So, why don’t I like them? I don’t like the way we have bastardized them in Nigeria to the extent that what should not be is accepted as the norm. We, the elites, have subjugated Nigeria and Nigerians with our immoral politics. Every four years, rather than celebrate a renewal of our democratic culture, we celebrate elite capture of political terrains.

I know when I talk like this some people get exasperated with me and call me “goody two-shoes.” Of course, I’m not; but I have since passed the stage of caring if telling the truth as I see it will make people hate me or like me. Even if you’re hating, I will like to take solace in the fact that I know I’m telling the truth.

Today, you are the men and women in the theatre. You are not there to clap and cheer the performance, you are the performers. And this is not the type of performance you want to put in everything and in the end expect the audience to garland you with praises. No, you are the performers in the Colosseum waiting to be gored and devoured by the beasts that they’d soon unleash on you. You are the gladiators who must kill the beasts and come out alive or be eaten alive yourselves. It’s the sad nature of politics in Nigeria. But someone must do this job and it’s fallen on you. I certainly don’t envy you.

However, there is something bigger than your fears on the line in this election. It’s the presidential party primary for our great party, the All Progressive Congress (APC). You know all the candidates. The news at home and abroad now is that you are swimming in millions of dollars doled out to you by those who want to buy your conscience. They want your vote and they care less what you think about their fitness or capacity to lead our nation. They say you are even too desperate to worry about that. All you want is the money while the nation waits.

Now, the above view has been solidified in the public space by the show of shame that was the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential primary. The news abroad is that they had a dollar rain, and that the PDP presidential party ticket was sold to the highest bidder. These are the people we ousted from government in 2015 based on a strong anti-corruption message. Unfortunately, we have undermined ourselves with the scandalously high price we made people pay for the party nomination forms. What message are we sending to Nigerians if we are making people pay the equivalent of the salary they will putatively earn in their four years as president for just a form? Do we need anyone to tell us that we are by this indirectly encouraging corruption?

Of course, I know the argument in support of the high amount paid for the presidential nomination form. The party needs money to prosecute the general election, and this is the only way they can raise that money. Seemingly good excuse, but it’s still not a fair excuse considering the economic and social condition of the country. It’s a bad message. That is why you, as delegates are our last line of defence.

You are the ones who must save our face, you are the ones to restore our honour and you can do that by showing that you are not cut from the same immoral cloth as the PDP delegates who sold their party ticket to the highest bidder. In fact, I do not think what most people think of you and your motive right now is true. I think most of you are courageous patriots who have taken this job to make history happen. You are not statutory delegates. You are regular party men and women chosen by your people to help elect our flag-bearer in the forthcoming presidential election. Nothing can be more democratic than that.

But, please, do not ignore the fact that we have run the national government for seven years and the results have been a mixed bag. Suffice to say, Nigerians have not fully enjoyed the promises we made to them in 2015 when we took over the reins of the national government. We have our excuses, but none matters now. What is important is that each of you must focus on your personal vision of the future and wish for our country in terms of leadership. Yes, each of you must ask yourself what you truly want. Is making quick money momentarily your objective? Who amongst the people asking for your vote in this election is the one you will recommend to take Nigeria forward when President Muhammadu Buhari’s term comes to an end next year? I have my choice and that man is the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. That is the man I want to honestly sell to you in this message.

In this open letter to you delegates, I’m going to limit myself to three very important issues because at this point, nothing much needs to be said. The first is about leadership and direction, the second is the reaction of the main opposition party and their supporters to our approach and the third is, not surprisingly, a few words about the man I am trying to sell to you, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. I urge you to consider what I say on this matter wholeheartedly before you make your epochal decision on the floor of the Convention.

When I talk about leadership and direction, I mean exactly that. We are members of a political party with our leadership mandated and expected to show us direction. A disciplined, focused party will follow its leadership to achieve the objective of that leadership as long as the objective is in the interest of Nigerians and members of the party. We have many leaders in the party but, as we all know, the leader of leaders, the one leader of the party that everyone must look up to and defer to is the President.

The above is what order means in a disciplined party. It is not that people cannot have divergent opinions from their leaders, whoever they are; it is simply that the leaders must be given the opportunity to lead and if their idea of leadership is reasonable and in the interest of Nigerians and the members of the party generally; that is if their ideas are for the greatest good of the greatest number, irrespective of our own personal interest, we must follow them. That is what leadership and responsible followership is about.

Our foremost leader, President Muhammadu Buhari in his wisdom has surveyed the political landscape and determined that the many people throwing their hats in the ring to contest for the position of the presidential flag-bearer of the party is though democratically good, it is strategically suicidal. The main opposition party has chosen a formidable person in the form of Atiku Abubakar, the former Vice President as their flag-bearer. It behoves us to choose, without sentiments, someone who can beat him in the general election. The president knows that amongst the many talented people who have shown interest in being the party’s presidential flag-bearer, there is one man who can beat Atiku Abubakar. He has made an impassioned plea to our leaders, the Governors of our party, 22 of them, to give him the privilege of choosing one of the aspirants obviously as the consensus candidate to go face the opposition in the general election. He is convinced his choice will do us all proud.

But what have we got? While our leaders are still digesting the words of the president and some working along the lines of his humble request, some members of the opposition and their supporters are up in arms, claiming Armageddon is upon us because our president has supposedly made a request that is tantamount to the death of democracy. One very strong voice against the president is that of Joseph Daudu (SAN) who wrote an open letter to the president where he bristled with righteous indignation against the president for daring to ask his party governors to give him the privilege of choosing his successor.

In the piece titled: “You have no right to pick successor,” Daudu claimed the constitutional functions of the president do not include searching for a successor to his office for Nigerians. Daudu declared: “It is the sole prerogative of Nigerians to search for a presidential leader who will govern them for 4 years come 2023 and to the extent that you are just one solitary Nigerian you cannot usurp that remaining right and exercise it for us.”

He said the APC party members are “morbidly scared” of the president and that the people around him “dare not” tell him the truth. But, of course, he is not one of those morbidly afraid people who cannot tell the president the truth. So, he declared: “…I will not and cannot continue to acquiesce with all the devaluating measures you and your government have inflicted on us in this past 7 years especially when it comes to the only lawful constitutional measure open to the citizenry to remove the yoke of the dangerously bad governance that your administration has inflicted on us, which is the people’s right, privilege and prerogative to lawfully change every 4 years the people who govern them including the office of the President.”

He further declared: “Unless we are no longer running a constitutional democracy, Mr. President, you should not be discussing such matters in the open. It amounts between your cabal and Nigerians a ‘see finish’ total disrespect of their rights. This is a breach of section 1-1-(2) of the CFRN 1999 (as amended) as the measure you are suggesting is patently unconstitutional and akin to a coup d’ etat. Mr. President, kindly disentangle yourself from this subterfuge.”

First, Mr Daudu need not burst an artery over this. He is not a member of the All Progressive Congress (APC), he is not one of our governors and this matter really does not concern him. To the extent it concerns him as a Nigerian, he needs to understand that “successor” and “flag-bearer” can be used interchangeably or together just as the president has done without hurting democracy in any way.

The president appealed to the governors of his party as part of the consultation necessary to get a consensus presidential candidate to fly his party’s flag in the forthcoming election. The successor he spoke about is not his successor as president, but his successor as the All Progressive Party (APC) presidential flag-bearer in the forthcoming election since he was the last presidential flag-bearer who is not seeking re-election being on the verge of completing his second term. Or is the person who will eventually take the APC presidential flag not qualified to be called a successor to Buhari as APC flag-bearer?  What is unconstitutional in the president following the provisions of section 84(9) of the Electoral Act 2022 which allows for a party to adopt a consensus candidate? Why is Mr Daudu running ahead of himself? If the president in working for a consensus candidate breaches the provision of section 84(9) of the Electoral Act 2022 which requires that a political party that adopts a consensus candidate must secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the position, indicating their voluntary withdrawal from the race and their endorsement of the consensus candidate, then he might have a case. But what case does he have when the president is just beginning to engage the process through consultation with party leaders?

How does a democratic process of consultation to choose a presidential flag-bearer who the president said “would fly the flag of our party for election into the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023” qualify as a coup d’etat, as claimed by Mr. Daudu? How does the choice of a consensus candidate affect the ordinary Nigerian who will vote in the general election when the president or the APC is not going to impose their presidential flag-bearer on Nigerians? How is this a problem when the flag-bearer will have to be on the ballot like the presidential aspirants of other parties? Or does Joseph Daudu (SAN) and all those who support his view have another definition of democracy than the one we all know?

Now, there is an important development. As I sat to begin writing this message to you the delegates of our great party, the All Progressive Congress, news filtered in that the Northern APC Governors and leaders are totally supporting President Muhammadu Buhari’s call to choose a consensus candidate. But, they further said something that strongly reaffirms my faith in our nation. They not only have all signed this statement urging President Buhari to go ahead with his plan to get a consensus candidate, but they are also asking him to limit his search for a successor to the South. In other words, they have unilaterally in good faith zoned the presidency to the South! They have asked all Northern aspirants to withdraw and Governor Abubakar Badaru has already done so as disclosed in the statement.

The statement said: “The APC has a duty to ensure that the 2023 elections offer a nation-building moment, reaffirming that a democratic pathway to power exists for all who value cooperation and build national platforms. This moment calls for the most sober and inclusive approach to selecting our party’s candidate, and we call on all APC leaders to fulfil their responsibility in this regard.”

Isn’t this a lesson in statesmanship? Haven’t they made your job as delegates easier?

Of course, the main effect of the above development is that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), our main opposition in the forthcoming general election, has been left with egg on their face. They have reduced their party to a regional party with their Chairman and presidential flag-bearer both coming from the North. Their tone-deaf antics to win the forthcoming election is now looking like a desperate gambit in the light of the action of the APC Northern leaders, even though the APC is yet to chose its presidential flag-bearer. All this bears out the president’s wisdom, something that you all as delegates must now ride on.

Now, I have come to what I consider to be the most important reason for writing you, which is to talk about Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who I wish to humbly to sell to you as the candidate you should be rooting for to take our party and our nation forward after President Buhari.

First, Osinbajo joining the race for the presidency is simply a logical decision. He has repeatedly talked about how he has been prepared for this task by the seven years he has understudied President Buhari. A few days ago, he said: “We have just ahead of us a New Nigeria and by the Grace of God, we will get there.” It is a simple, but yet cryptic comment. Those of us who know him, who know his passion for Nigeria, know what he means. It is important the rest of Nigeria and the world get to experience this “New Nigeria.” Osinbajo represents a future Nigeria where citizenship will trump ethnicity, even as we will all remain proud Urhobo, Yoruba, Igbo, Ezon, Efik, Esan, Ukwuani, Bini, Ibibio, Kuteb, Bachama, Hausa, Birom, Fulani and so on. Under the leadership of Osinbajo, we will not go back to the Egypt of the failed imagination of ethnic bigots.

I will not pre-emptively declare here that Osinbajo is the choice of President Buhari and the likely person that will emerge as the consensus candidate. I will not do so despite copious evidence in public space to support such a view. However, we all must be aware that of all the candidates screened only one refuses to accept the idea of a consensus candidate, except if that consensus candidate is him. He certainly has a right to so declare, but we must acknowledge what that means in the light of section 84(9) of the Electoral Act 2022. The provision of that law requires that a political party that adopts a consensus candidate must secure the written consent of all cleared aspirants for the position, indicating their voluntary withdrawal from the race and their endorsement of the consensus candidate. So, if this fellow sticks to his guns, you will have to go for the vote and we, as democrats, will have to accept the outcome, whatever the outcome. I just pray that if it comes to that, we all should make our party and our leadership proud by ensuring that this person is soundly defeated. We must make clear that we are a party that believes in our leaders and that a tree cannot make a forest.

Of course, for President Buhari, Osinbajo succeeding him as party flag-bearer and hopefully as president would be the culmination of his legacy as a great Nigerian leader. Now, I know there are those who would take the cudgel to me for daring to think Buhari could be considered a great leader. None of us should be oblivious to the unfolding of history before our very eyes. Despite stringent economic circumstances, long neglected national infrastructures in aviation, railways and road transportation have received diligent attention.

Think about it: We are now in the 23rd year of the Fourth Republic and by the time President Buhari will hand over, we will be in the 24th year. In all this while, through many electoral cycles, no vice president has ever succeeded a president directly through election or via a definite succession plan. Goodluck Jonathan only succeeded Umaru Yar’Adua upon the demise of the latter, not because he was chosen. His takeover of national affairs first as acting president and later as president was fortuitous, not planned. If Osinbajo succeeds Buhari, it would be the first time in our history that a president is bequeathing us an understudy he has trained and that he trusts well enough to lead our nation to greater heights. And, yes, no doubt, Osinbajo will lead us to greater heights. Anyone in doubt only has to look at his record in the periods he was acting president.

Osinbajo has big dreams for this country, and I know he can put the right team together to dream even bigger and make these great dreams a reality. Those who know him will say he’s a man of few words (except when he’s in a courtroom), but he can and will inspire a new generation of Nigerians to take back this country and make their Nigerian dream come true, no matter their faith, ethnic origin, place of residence or social status.

Osinbajo thinks of the law purely as an instrument of justice and good order. It was the reason he, as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Lagos State, created opportunity for ordinary people to have access to justice by creating the Office of the Public Defender and the Citizens Mediation Centre in Lagos. It is the reason he showed his support for the #EndSARS movement, even as it all ended up tragically with the death of many young people. If Osinbajo becomes president, Nigerians will witness what true freedom is under a democracy because for him, it is a mission.

From the vantage position of his office, the vice president has seen what needs to be done to get the economy going. His vision is to tie economic development to the physical and intellectual energy of young people. He is looking at what is happening elsewhere and worrying that we are letting young people, our biggest and best assets, go to waste gratuitously. Thanks to information technology, it is cheaper today to reposition Nigeria as a modern, knowledge-driven economy. He believes ASUU strikes are embarrassing. He believes it shouldn’t be happening at all because it is a throwback to a time when the nation was still blind. Majority of the Nigerian population are 19 years old and below, these are the future, our future. He believes these are the people we should be investing all our resources in. Our nation needs to consciously unlock its many potentials in every sector and allow the talent of our people to thrive.

We heard him in Gombe when he was talking about how we should leverage on youth and technology to move forward economically as a nation. He talked about 7 companies founded between 2015 and now that are presently valued at over I billion dollars each. These are companies founded by young Nigerians not even up to 40 yet. This is possible through the creation of a technology and creativity advisory group that helped formulate new banking policies that include a categorization of licences for financial services that made it possible to have cheap and affordable licences in seven different categories giving them good financial options to run their businesses. This allowed for new tech enabled payment systems which these companies use to process payments without being full scale banks. That is all part of the administration’s attempt to make it easier to do business in Nigeria.

The vice president’s ambition is beyond the high level of the nation’s economy or politics. He is more interested in making Nigeria’s wealth accessible to ordinary citizens. That is why he is looking to deal with the case of unemployment in a strategic way. His government will engage in massive employment generating ventures through public work and also through incentives for entrepreneurs and employers to encourage them to employ more Nigerians in their legitimate businesses. There is still a lot of work to do in various sectors and there really is no excuse to have 33 percent unemployment rate in Nigeria. He believes we have to engage people of working age fully. Not only that, people must have livable wages, whatever they are doing.

But he also understands that we first have to create the work and the conditions suitable for work. In the meantime, unemployed Nigerians must not die before they get work. It’s in that regard he said he will intervene by turning the administration’s National Social Investment Programme into a full welfare programme. People are yet to understand the impact of such a proposal, but it’s huge.

In the history of Nigeria, only three leaders have made social welfare the centerpiece of their policy proposals – Chief Obafemi Awolowo as leader of the Action Group (AG) and the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Chief Gani Fawehinmi as leader of the National Conscience Party (NCP) and President Muhammadu Buhari as leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Only one of them has had the opportunity to implement the programme nationally by being voted in as President of Nigeria. That leader is Muhammadu Buhari.

The president has set the vision and the vice president has said he’s going to reengineer it as a full benefit programme for Nigerians.

Osinbajo believes Nigeria is not a poor country, but a poorly managed country at many critical levels. Nigeria bleeds from every pore through massive mismanagement and corruption. While a government he leads will put policies in place to cut waste and bring down the cost of governance, even as they deliver quality services, Nigerians through the full benefit programme must be allowed to suckle their nation’s breast. That would be a key national security strategy against terrorism, kidnapping and large-scale crimes because a lot of that emanates from frustration. He is determined to build on what President Muhammadu Buhari has done. In fact, he too wants to build on his legacy as ‘Baba Oloja.’

Finally, Osinbajo has a pet peeve. He is not a fan of jingoistic ethnic and negative identity politics. He abhors this fiercely because he thinks this is the basis of negative godfatherism and prebendalism in Nigerian politics – two factors he thinks undermine development greatly because of their institutional incubation of corruption. He is all for mentorship at every level of our national life, but not godfatherism as we presently know it. He believes it sucks life out of people and out of the country.

Osinbajo will build a movement – an ideological and intellectual movement – because the problem with politics in Nigeria is that it is not ideologically based. Any political culture not ideologically based will be personality-based and that means one, you might not get the right personality that can spark positive political change and two, if and when you get one, his or her reforms may not be sustainable. Worst of all, there can be no economic progress because the coordinated ideas will not be there to drive it.

The core of a properly ideologically delineated political system is that people have clear choices and alternatives based on real ideas, rather than just loyalty to people who may not even have their interest at heart. An ideologically defined political system will have people competing with ideas rather than with themselves. At the heart of that will be the ordinary people who will provide the clues for what the right ideas are.

If given the opportunity to serve as president, Osinbajo will boldly build a Nigeria that works for all. That is his mantra – ‘A Nigeria That Works For All.’ This is not just a sound-bite. Yemi Osinbajo is not a politician in the traditional mold of politicians we know in Nigeria. I was listening to an old tape of Myles Munroe, the late Bahamian evangelist and professor. He was talking about the difference between a politician and a leader. He said a politician thinks only about the next election and a leader thinks the next generation. That immediately reminded me of Yemi Osinbajo. Each time we share private moments and get to discuss Nigeria, he is always talking about the future of young people and the challenges Nigerian young people are going to face in the future in a fast-changing world and what we need to do to bring them up to speed. To be honest, most times, I think him too much of an idealist, but time and again, he’s showed me that what I think is too idealistic is practically possible.

Osinbajo believes the ordinary Nigerian anywhere has no problem with another Nigerian from elsewhere. But politics has been used to expand the fault-lines to the detriment of the ordinary people and for the benefit of the political elite. He says we must put an end to all that. He says good, open and honest governance will put an end to all that.

Osinbajo is contesting for the presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through our great party, the All Progressives Congress because he wants to enter a sacred social contract with Nigerians to position us properly in the 21st century.

Please, make sure to be part of history. No matter the circumstances at the Convention, please, deliver Yemi as the presidential flag-bearer of our great party and make Nigerians believe again.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

God bless the All Progressives Congress!

Thank you.

 

*Professor Olusola Adeyeye was a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and is a strong supporter of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.