Why All These Obsessions With Osinbajo? by Etim Etim 

Two weeks after Prof. Yemi Osinbajo left office as Vice President, I have noticed an undue attention on him. Since these unwarranted attacks have the same theme, I am pretty convinced that they are sponsored from the same source with bile, pettiness and envy as the motives.

Unless you are a man of great evil inclinations, you’ll never find any genuine reason to vilify someone like Osinbajo. For eight years, he did his job very well to the admiration of many Nigerians and several foreign dignitaries; within the limits of what the Constitution permits a VP, and the extent to which the principal delegates. The man has never been accused of corruption, abuse of office, sexual irresponsibility or any unethical behaviour, for which many a politician is notorious.

He stood by President Buhari solidly; with remarkable counsel even if not known to many and not in the public domain, it is clearly the case. He offered his best to the nation and left honourably in a blaze of glory. He now deserves his rest in the company of his beautiful and equally amiable wife. But some resentful and bitter elements are not contented to let him.

The first venomous piece was written by Bob Majiri Oghene Etemiku and was entitled ‘‘Buhari’s blood runs through Osinbajo’s white agbada’’. Published in The Guardian of May 24, the article was livid in rage that the then Emir of Kano, His Royal Majesty Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, had stated that Nigeria had lost a good opportunity in not choosing Osinbajo as its President. Sanusi made the remarks on Labour Day at the launch of a book written by 25 writers and journalists in honour of the former Vice President. I am honoured to be one of the 25 authors of the book.

Sanusi’s remark is a truism many still hold dear till today. If it has turned out to be a painful axiom to some, we have no apologies. Vitalis Obidiaghaa (another of the 25 writers) has already written a befitting rebuttal to Etemiku’s diatribe which The Guardian published on June 8.

Recently, I saw another piece of convoluted tirade with the title ‘‘Will Osinbajo rue missed opportunities?’’, written by Bolanle Bolawole, a former editor of The Punch newspaper who later served as the Chairman of the paper’s Editorial Board. At the end of the long drivel, Bolawole advertises a lecture he would be giving at the University of Ibadan on the task before President Bola Tinubu. That’s when I realized his motive. In his wisdom, he thought that the best way to presage his fawning lecture on President Tinubu is to be nasty to the man who contested for the job with him. This has become the basic tactic of some of today’s fortune seekers who parade themselves as opinion writers. Just hack down the perceived opponents of the king, and your invitation to the palace would be ready! And we have seen this kind of tactic pay out in many ways in our clime.

As usual with his ilk, Bolawole is questioning why Osinbajo dared to contest in the APC primary. This is a staple query of all anti-Osinbajo elements in Yoruba land. For them, it is the easiest way to denigrate the former VP and reach out to the new sheriff in town. But I won’t dignify the writer with even the most mundane reference to the Constitutional right of all adult Nigerians to pursue their political ambition.

Bolawole then asks what Prof. Osinbajo got from the Buhari administration for the South West; what role did the former VP play in resolving ASUU strikes; Did Osinbajo confront former Attorney General Abubarkar Malami, and what advice did he give to the President on resolving Boko Haram attacks.

The only query Bolawole did not raise in his article is why the former VP did not prevent the sun from setting! Suffice it to say that no Vice President ever comes out to berate his boss for not taking his advice. But I know for sure that the former VP offered in all circumstances the best advice, counsel and suggestions on how best the nation could be governed. And in all cases he queried, the immediate past VP is known by insiders to have risen up with the right advice to the President and rebuke where necessary to certain ministers. But these matters not being public does not mean they didn’t happen, and I expect more details from people like Laolu Akande now that the VP is out of office.

And yes the then VP is also bound by the overall decisions of the government, irrespective of what his views are.

It would amount to a disingenuous ingratitude for anybody to ask what the Buhari administration did for the South West. The Lagos-Abeokuta-Ibadan rail service; the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway; the concrete refurbishment of Mile Two-Gbagada expressway in Lagos are major federal investments. Without the administration’s FX subsidy and other supports, the Dangote Refinery in Lagos would have been a stillbirth. The honour to MKO Abiola; the recognition of June 12 and Tinubu’s election are all due to Buhari. The total overhaul of the National Theatre is also a very important federal intervention. I challenge Bolawole to tell us what the South-South region, the nation’s treasure base got in the period under review.

In Ikenne LGA, no one you ask would mince words to detail the impact of the VP. And a simple Google search will reveal state of the art hospitals in Iperu and Ikenne towns, solar powered lights on the roads and hundreds more model classrooms in several of the schools among tonnes of other infrastructural and Human Capital Development impacts.

As the new President is settling down, many pundits are working hard to attract his attention. I get that. But I should caution that there is so much for the new President to do; so, all these obsessions with Osinbajo are actually a distraction. It is therefore counterproductive for the new administration and the height of meanness to keep dredging up old tales against the former VP.

May be people like Bolawole who is an operative in the intellectual public sphere in our country should get a copy of the book “Osinbajo STRIDES” so he can properly acquaint himself with the impact the VP has made, not just in the Villa, but since the ‘80s when he was Special Adviser to the then Attorney-General Prince Bola Ajibola. Afterwards, he can then return to make informed commentary on Prof. Osinbajo. What he wrote in that article is certainly filled with baseless insinuations and claims which Bolawole would have tongue-lashed a reporter for in his days as newspaper editor.

Etim,  a journalist and public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja

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