BY KEN UGBECHIE …
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is an eloquent professor of law. He’s brilliant and inspires hope when he speaks. Hope of a tincture of intellectualism in Nigerian Presidency the type never before seen after the brutal eclipse of seminal Dr. Alex Ekwueme and his mentally dense but humane boss Shehu Shagari by the military goons.
That’s good. Osinbajo complements the obvious intellectual limitations of his boss, Muhammadu Buhari. Their ticket mirrors the Shagari-Ekwueme era. Osinbajo is also a priest of the Pentecostal order, a pastor. But I will not dwell on this. And no man is worthy to judge him on his pastoral questing or on the propriety of mixing the ecclesiastical pulpit with the putridly partisan podium of Nigerian politics. Only Osinbajo, his God and his conscience should bother about this strange mixture of the pulpit and the partisan podium.
I am worried about Osinbajo and what he is turning out to represent. I am worried about his sudden transition from a cerebral vice president of Nigeria to an ethnic bigot and zealot. Politics is full of bad manners. This I know. And I just wonder, was Osinbajo pretending all this while to be a nationalist or did he pick the bad manners of ethnic jingoism from his boss, Buhari, the undisputed champion of ethnic predilection?
And here, I am talking about Osinbajo, an erudite professor of law; a master of elocution, a quintessence of sound cognitive reasoning; the man who has been preaching on the need to birth a new tribe of Nigerians. A tribe that would promote merit over mediocre, elevate nationalism over primordial tribal bigotry. Osinbajo at different fora had roused young Nigerians to shun ethnicity, laziness, corruption, vainglory including the newfangled and deadly pathway to sudden wealth called Yahoo-Yahoo (Yahoo+). He had inspired the youth to create their own path, pave their own way and birth a new social order far from the current order where ethno-religious sentiments and those damaging habits including ‘grand corruption’ have kept the nation tethered to the stump of underdevelopment.
And I love him for that.
But the same Osinbajo has in recent weeks, even months, started to moult his old skin in a dubious manner that makes him a suspect. He is preaching ethnic hate. He is hyping the same medieval mannerisms that he once charged the youths to shun. In lieu of nationalism, Osinbajo tells the Yoruba to vote Buhari just so power would return to the Yoruba in 2023. Excuse me! Your Excellency, is this really you? Who wrote this highly divisive and potentially inflammatory script for you? So, Mr. Vice President you have reduced Nigerian leadership to a Yoruba/Fulani thing; you have gone back to dig up the old dirty habits of Nigerian politics that you once told the youths to banish from their brains. Chai!
Recently, Osinbajo was at the Ibadan palace of the Alaafin of Oyo, Lamidi Adeyemi III, where he dropped this bombshell: “The 2019 general elections is our own. We are not looking at 2019 but 2023. If we get it in 2019, Yoruba will get it in 2023. Because if we don’t get it in 2019, we may not get it in 2023 and it may take a very long time to get it. We need to look at tomorrow and not because of today. What we are doing now is for tomorrow and not for today.” Really?
Osinbajo’s statement limps on both feet. It is as reckless as it is mundane. So, Osinbajo’s so-called ‘New Tribe’ which he wants the youths to engender bears tribal marks? It is the same old ethnic conclave that has kept Nigeria backward. This is hypocrisy propped up on impudence. Osinbajo is a tribal warlord; an ethnic jingoist. He is not a nationalist. Nothing here qualifies him as one. He is a bloody pretender on the stage of nationalism. We should not make excuse for him. I can understand when Babatunde Fashola, a man whose Lagos mystique has been demystified in Abuja, plays ethnic card. But not Osinbajo who has been preaching to younger Nigerians to evolve a new tribe of Nigeria where ethnicity, indolence, corruption and other unhealthy baggage do not fester. The same has turned a hero and champion of ethnic worship.
Not even the Alaafin was as banal as Osinbajo in his response.
It’s a pity that Osinbajo has descended to the cesspool of ethnicity at a time the nation is viciously divided along several cleavages and fault lines. It is even more pitiable that the man who should be helping to patch up the cracks is the one creating craters from mere cracks.
Politics is a bitch, an inebriating broth that turns otherwise good guys to bad guys.
But Osinbajo should be reminded that Nigeria is beyond the Fulani and Yoruba. What happens to other parts and people? Need I remind Mr. Osinbajo and his fellow travelers in the ignominious pathway of extreme ethnicity that 70 percent of the money they share in Abuja and to every part of Nigeria comes from oil and gas earning despite our so-called efforts at diversifying the economy. Oil is exploited chiefly from the South-south, part of South East and Ondo State in the South West. So, these other people do not matter to Osinbajo.
Equity, justice and fairness mean nothing to a professor of law in the public court of Nigeria. The Igbo of the East and parts of South-south, the minorities of the South-south and other minorities scattered in the North count for zilch to power monger Osinbajo. What a transformation from priestly purity to rabid ethnic beaver. I have always admired Osinbajo but his lust for ethnic dominance reduces him to a political tout.
Nigeria lost much revenue from oil in the past recent years because of violent agitations from militants in the creeks of the Niger Delta who felt the region was grossly marginalized in the distribution of the same wealth extracted at great environmental cost to the region. It is statements like Osinbajo’s that inflame the system and set one people against the nation. When those in positions of authority use their influence to further balkanize the nation along ethnic lines for their selfish gains and appeasements of tribal potentates, there is cause for worry.
Osinbajo and his cousins in power who are currently treading the path of ethnicity should learn from history. All over the world, ethnic bigotry has crashed the foundations of nations.
Osinbajo sure knows about the ethnic conflict that dismembered the old Yugoslavia in which about 140,000 people lost their lives and many more displaced. He knows about the deadly war between the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda and many more of such ethnicity-induced savagery in other climes. He should spare us such in Nigeria by retreating from his ethnic voyage to perdition. Nigeria has bled so much to the orgy of ethno-religious convulsions. She cannot endure another ethnic conflagration, the type being precipitated by the likes of Osinbajo and other ethnic merchants.
Though our tribes and tongues may differ, we must never cease to promote brotherhood and nationhood rather than submit to Osinbajo’s recipe of Fulani-Yoruba politically hegemony and dominance. Enough said, Prof!