Osinbajo: Not the Quintessential 'Spare Tyre'

THISDAY Newspaper- Ojo M. Maduekwe

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had problems with his deputy, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar because he classified Atiku as being too ambitious. Atiku was gunning for his boss’s job, an action which in politics was antithetical to the perceived characteristics of a typical vice-president.

A quintessential vice-president is loyal, a word many of the masses interprets to mean a stooge. Of all the three vice-presidents that Nigeria has had since the new democratic experience, Atiku was the only one who had a mind of his own, a disposition that nonetheless cost him.

President Goodluck Jonathan, under the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was nowhere near Atiku. His deputy, Namadi Sambo could remind him of his days as Yar’Adua’s deputy. Incoming vice-president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has been accused too that like many before him, he might be another stooge.

Those accusing Osinbajo said his was not going to be to his principal, General Muhammadu Buhari, but to the leader of his party, former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu. Also, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) accused him of taking an oath to resign six months into office.

Osinbajo has denied this accusation. In a press statement issued by the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential campaign organisation, Osinbajo said the office of the vice-president under an APC government will not be subjected to function as a “spare tyre”.
In one interview, when asked about the claim that he was Tinubu’s stooge, he said, “I cannot dignify that with a comment”. Going further, he said, “What anyone should do is look at my track record.”

Citing some politicians who were brought to political limelight by Tinubu, Osinbajo asked: “In any event, when you look at Tinubu, who is it that he has in any form supported that turned out to be his stooge?”

On Buhari, he once said: “I have worked with him and I have seen him at work. I don’t think that he would waste my contributions. I think he will happily receive contributions and give me roles to play that will ensure that his administration benefits maximally. What’s the point of having me on the ticket if he is not going to use what I will bring to the table?”

Not that he may be another Atiku and contest the presidency with Buhari but probably, Osinbajo could be different from Jonathan and Sambo. The APC incoming government has placed under his control, the National Economic Council (NEC). This way, while Buhari manages the administrative reforms of the government, Osinbajo would take care of the economy. It will take more than a stooge to get the kind of work required of him done.

As a pastor and professor, many believe that his qualities will speak for him. Not a few people have spoken well of him. But a pastor in politics raises great suspicion from many who find blending the two professions an impossible task. To this people, not only will Osinbajo compromise in office when the chips are down, he will be a stooge.

Some of his fellow party members have come out to defend him. The former governor of Kwara State, Senator Bukola Saraki referred to him as “a Professor of Law; a well-ranked academic; a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN; and a committed Pastor of unquestionable integrity.”

This was expected from another member of his party. If truly one was to consider his track record, Saraki may be right, but then, being a man of integrity is a requirement for pastors. The real test will present itself in the coming months, when Nigerians will see if he can weather through the turbulent and treacherous political climate of deceit.
Another example will be the leeway his principal, Buhari, will attach to the kind of functions to be delegated to him. This will reveal whether Osinbajo is a stooge, or truly a man of himself.


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