Home Opinion 2023 & The Same Faith Ticket: Leave Osinbajo Alone

2023 & The Same Faith Ticket: Leave Osinbajo Alone

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OPINION

ETIM ETIM responds to FFK’s
‘Yemi Osinbajo, Bola Tinubu and Queen Elizabeth’s funeral

I read a full-page article in Thisday of Saturday, October 8, 2022, with the above headline, written by Femi Fani-Kayode, with a little bemusement. I am a bit perplexed that FFK is still obsessed with the Vice President. When he was in PDP, Fani-Kayode spent most of his time insulting Prof Osinbajo, President Buhari and even Bola Ahmed Tinubu. After decamping to APC about a year ago, apparently expecting to be forgiven of the criminal charges preferred against him by the EFCC, I am wondering why he is still needling the Vice President. As a spokesperson for the Tinubu Campaign, Fani-Kayode will do well to build bridges for his candidate and help him win the election, which would obviously be the most competitive race since 1999. I do not know what recommended him for this position as a spokesman with all the baggage he has carries, but I know that there is no other country in the world in which a man of such a background would be a spokesperson of a Presidential candidate, even if the candidate himself is cast in a similar mould, as in this case. That is my ‘’surprisation’’ number one. But this is Nigeria. My second ‘’surprisation’’ is why is FFK still obsessed with the Vice President? Why is he still stalking the VP?

In the article, Fani-Kayode is urging Prof Osinbajo to join the campaign train and start stumping for Tinubu. The long introductory part of the piece about the VP’s attendance of the Queen’s funeral and the flatteries he heaped on Osinbajo were only to set the stage for the object of the article: Osinbajo should make a full-throated support for Tinubu, the man whom according to FFK, nominated the law professor for the VP job. I recall that soon after the APC convention in June, Osinbajo had openly congratulated Tinubu on his nomination and expressed his support to the candidate and the party. If it now seems that the VP has since turned lukewarm towards the Tinubu presidential project, it is because of the Muslim-Muslim ticket which Osinbajo has opposed openly on two notable occasions. It is therefore a matter of principles and conscience that Osinbajo is standing aloof from Tinubu. There is nothing personal about it.

The first time Prof Osinbajo had expressed disgust at Muslim-Muslim ticket was in 2014 before he was even considered for the VP position. By one well publicized account narrated by no lesser a person than former Ogun State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, soon after Buhari won the nomination in December 2014 (I attended that convention), Tinubu put forward himself to Buhari as a running mate even before the convention. Prof Osinbajo was one of the several chieftains of the party that opposed the idea because both he and Buhari are Muslims. Tinubu was so angered by Osinbajo’s objection that he swore never to support the prof. again and when his name eventually came up as a nominee to run with Buhari, Tinubu objected.

Now, fast forward to last June when Tinubu emerged as the APC standard bearer, Osinbajo warned against same faith ticket and gave his reasons in several interviews. Vanguard newspaper of July 12, 2022, reported: ‘’Osinbajo counselled APC chieftains and Tinubu to avoid an unbalanced ticket, arguing that such would simply be untenable and an unnecessary risk. The VP explained that the logic, fairness and justice of a balanced ticket is unassailable. The argument that merit should be considered above a Muslim-Christian balance presents a false choice. It is not one or the other. You can get all the merit you want in a balanced ticket’’.

Given the avalanche of opposition from a cross section of the Christian community to the Tinubu-Shettima ticket, Osinbajo was very prescient in his prognosis. The Christian Association of Nigeria, Catholic Bishops, the Evangelical Pastors , the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and the Church as a whole have openly scoffed at the Muslim-Muslim ticket. It is the reason the APC ticket is underperforming in polls after polls, especially in the South East, South-South and the Christian belt of Northern Nigeria. It is therefore preposterous for FFK to expect the Vice President to turn around, blunt his conscience and back Tinubu now, three months after he forewarned of the danger of nominating a Muslim running mate. It shouldn’t happen. Osinbajo is not chameleonic when it comes to principles, but Nigerians will recall that Fani-Kayode was an ardent critic of Muslim-Muslim ticket when he was in the PDP.

In a press conference he gave in 2015, a clip of which is now trending online, FFK had lashed out at the ambition of Tinubu to be a running mate to Buhari on the expectation that ‘’given the questionable health status of General Buhari, Tinubu who is desperate to be President for his selfish reasons will simply buy his time in the evil expectation that Gen. Buhari will not be able to go the whole hog…’’.

In those days, FFK was always talking about Muslim domination and constantly referring to APC as the Janjaweed party, an allusion to the Sudanese Arab militia group that operates in Sudan, particularly in the Dafur region and eastern Chad. The group was responsible for cold blooded murders of thousands of innocent citizens, especially Christians, during the Sudanese civil war. FFK repetitively called Buhari a Muslin/Fulani Jihadist and anti-Christ whose main objective was to fulfil the dream of Uthman Dan Fodio ‘’to dip the Koran in the Atlantic Ocean’’. Has FFK recanted these words? Or has he simply moved on as if we had all forgotten? I haven’t.

From what I know, Prof Osinbajo has no personal aversion or dislike for Tinubu and Shettima. In fact, when Shettima was governor of Borno State, Osinbajo chose Borno to build schools for children orphaned by Boko Haram attacks.

The VP loves Muslims as well as he loves Christians and people of other faiths, for the Bible instructs us to love one another, as Christ loved us. Prof Osinbajo is a man of deep spiritual and moral standing and this is what influences his kind of politics. He does not change positions based on the availability of bread, butter and ice cream as FFK does.

It is therefore reprehensible, giving the deep divisions in the country today, to insist on a same faith ticket, and it is unthinkable that the VP will switch position.

But let me ask: would the Muslims accept a Christian-Christian ticket? So, why would anyone try to blackmail the VP into accepting what is not fair, just and acceptable to all?

Lack of religious balance is not the only problem the Tinubu ticket has. The man himself is not only glaringly in poor health, he has no reputation for possessing honesty, integrity and transparency as his values. Even it is questionable if he still possesses any genuine public spirit.

Perhaps, these things don’t matter anymore in our polity. Nigerians don’t care much about how dishonest their leaders are, provided he is from their own ethnic or tribal region or religious enclave or political party. But some of us are independent minded enough to understand the nexus between corruption, underdevelopment and insecurity. The VP has the right to choose whom not to support. Me too. FFK should leave Prof Osinbajo alone.

Etim is a member of APC, journalist and author.

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