Vice President Yemi Osinbajo recently visited the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in a show of solidarity as the February 25, 2023 presidential poll draws nearer, Adedayo Akinwale writes
In what appears to be a political realignment of forces, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo last week visited the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu at his Abuja residence.
This will be the first visit Osinbajo was paying Tinubu since the party’s presidential primary was concluded in June, 2022.
Osinbajo contested for the APC presidential ticket in spite of pressure on him to step down for Tinubu. Since the conclusion of the party primary, the vice president has not made any comment in support of Tinubu fuelling speculations of the frosty relationship between the duo, who were of the same political family in Lagos.
However, last week’s visit was coming less than 60 days to the February 25 presidential poll, in a clear show of solidarity by the Vice President to his erstwhile political benefactor who is contesting for the presidency of the country, his lifelong ambition.
The planned but impromptu visit was coming six months after the party’s Presidential primary that produced Tinubu as the party’s candidate.
At about 7 pm last Wednesday, the Vice President in the company of a few of his personal aides visited Tinubu, in what many party members saw as a sign of a good development having maintained distance after losing the primary.
Investigation revealed that the meeting between the duo which was held behind closed doors lasted for almost an hour.
Prior to the meeting, it was a rude shock that Osinbajo, a pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God had maintained a graveyard silence following the decision of Tinubu to pick a fellow Muslim from the North East and a former Governor of Borno state, Senator Kashim Shettima, as his running mate.
His refusal to comment on the issue till the whole hullabaloo died down was interpreted by political watchers as a deliberate attempt by Osinbajo who was torn between two walls. While he doesn’t want to betray his faith, he doesn’t want to be seen as kicking against the choice of Tinubu to float a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
When the presidential campaign council list of the ruling party was finally released, it was a rude shock that Osinbajo’s name and that of some prominent Christian leaders within the party were missing due to their stand against the same faith ticket.
With their names missing on the campaign council list, tongues were set wagging, a development that forced the spokesperson of the campaign council, Festus Keyamo, to issue a statement justifying the omission.
He had explained that the exclusion of Osinbajo from the council was deliberate and was directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Keyamo added that apart from Osinbajo, the President also ordered the exclusion of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.
He dismissed apprehension over Osinbajo’s exclusion from the campaign council as needless because there was no cause for concern.
The Minister of state for Labour had said: “Our attention has been drawn to some stories making the rounds that there may be something amiss within the family of the All Progressives Congress as the name of our own revered and respected Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo is not included in the list of the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council.
“Nothing can be farther from the facts. For the avoidance of doubt, President Muhammad is the Chairman of the Campaign Council. As a result, Mr. President has specifically directed that the Vice-President and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha should be left out of the Campaign Council to concentrate on the governance of the country and administration of Government.”
Keyamo pointed out that as a responsible party and government, all the key functionaries of government cannot abandon their positions for electioneering campaigns, saying the APC has the mandate of the Nigerian people to administer the country on their behalf at least till May, 29, 2023, and this it intends to do with all sense of responsibility.
He said the ruling party would not tow the path of those who governed the country in an irresponsible manner before, adding that the APC was not in total disarray like those who wish to ‘rescue’ the country, but cannot simply manage their own internal affairs.
For what it’s worth, the President, for the umpteenth time, assured of his readiness to campaign for Tinubu and all party candidates with full energy and conviction in the 2023 elections.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement said this was to dispel expressed concerns in certain quarters that the President has not featured in campaigns since the national launch in Jos, Plateau State capital.
Buhari pointed out that while he remains committed to party politics, the functions and duties of the President will equally be upheld at all times.
The President noted that the APC campaigns have so far been the most aggressive in recent history. He expressed strong optimism that the party will win all the elections fairly and squarely.
But while Buhari appears to be too busy with state matters which has kept him away from the party’s campaign, he had always created time for his foreign engagement, a situation that made the statement issued by the presidency less convincing.
Be that as it may, Osinbajo’s recent visit to Tinubu has been viewed as a good omen and a sign that the ruling party was putting its house in order ahead of next year’s election.
A source who does not want to be named said: “The Vice President came in at about 7 pm and entered into a closed-door meeting with Asiwaju. The meeting lasted for about an hour.”
Another source also disclosed that the Vice President expressed his loyalty and support for the Tinubu/Shetimma presidential project.
He said: “The crux of their meeting was simple. The Vice President came to express his loyalty and support for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Kashim Shetimma’s presidential ticket.”
The source said the Vice President told Tinubu the various administrative activities that have kept him away from the campaign but assured that he was with them in spirit.
While some Nigerians believe that APC has not done enough to retain power, the ruling party has continued to solidify its base and also reconcile aggrieved members, while the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) grapple with internal crisis.