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Another sermon on Professor Yemi Osinbajo

By Abraham Ogbodo
30 December 2018   |   3:55 am
I am returning to Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. The last time he came on my radar, an army of the Redeemed Christian Church of God faithful led by Mr. Laolu Akande...

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

I am returning to Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. The last time he came on my radar, an army of the Redeemed Christian Church of God faithful led by Mr. Laolu Akande, his media aide demanded my pen, paper and even my job on a platter of gold. Notwithstanding, I am returning to him because I love him too much to keep mute while he behaves less than himself.

Let me warn that what I am about to say has nothing to do with Prof. Osinbajo’s performance at the Vice Presidential debate some two weeks ago. Many people have come out with their scores, largely awarding the day to Mr. Peter Obi, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Well, a debate is like a piece of art which could have as many interpretations as there are interpreters and critics to explain the surrealistic details. For me sha, Osinbajo did not fare badly at that debate. At least, while others including Peter Obi were rambling about what the exact functions of the Vice President are in the current scheme, he went straight for the relevant sections in the constitution to back his claims.

Effortlessly, Osinbajo crashed the age-long fallacy that the Vice President is a spare tyre only needed when there is a puncture and could remain dormant forever in its compartment in the car if the ride is smooth all the way. Arising from Osinbajo’s revelations, the Vice Presidency through which the state governors connect with the presidency and which drives the national economic team is after all a very serious business. But because public electricity on the day of the debate was coming and going like abiku, I did not capture all the fine moments.

And so, I wouldn’t know of the other things that Osinbajo said the VP performs in the Nigerian brand of Presidential system of government. Maybe while waiting for electricity to return to my house, he had added this thing called Tradermoni which entails his moving around markets in Nigeria to share N10,000 each to traders. I had called Bros Imoni Amarere who moderated the debate for clarity but his line did not go through. Maybe he has changed his line since he started conducting presidential debates. I need to make these clarifications so that the Redeemed Christian Church of God army of Osinbajo defenders waiting to unleash their venom will at least understand that I did try to be fair to their man.

I am not saying sharing N10, 000 among traders is bad if that is how President Buhari and his team wish to empower the people of Nigeria. It is another way of ensuring that the national cake goes round. But I do not think it requires a Vice President and a professor of law and SAN for that matter to handle. For me, the distribution is not any different from what organisers of market thrift cooperatives – osusu or daily contribution – do all over Nigeria. It takes a man or woman, educated enough to keep binary records of ins and outs, not a professor of law and Vice President, to operate efficiently.

Prof. Osinbajo’s direct and deep involvement in this osusu thing surprises everybody which is why so many questions and allegations are being raised. It is like an adult doing what infants should do. Call it the sin of adultery or infantry if you like! For instance, people are saying that Tradermoni is vote buying by another name. In this age of big news, it is even added that the money is exchanged for the permanent voter cards of the recipients so that the All Progressives Congress (APC) can upload votes into the ballot boxes ahead of the February polls.

Can you now see why I am worried for Osinbajo? He is being accused of electoral fraud. Can you imagine that? Last month, following a House of Reps probe of the utilisation of the Northeast IDP intervention funds and the subsequent indictment of the VP by the legislators, his handlers struggled to explain that he had nothing to do with the alleged mismanagement of N5.8 billion of the funds.

People are now talking anyhow to Prof. Osinbajo because he is doing anyhow. He is also talking anyhow. He was quoted as saying the only way the presidency would return to the Southwest in 2023 after President Buhari is for the Yoruba to vote massively for Buhari and the APC in the February election. He is making it seem as if the country has been apportioned permanently between the Northwest and the Southwest and the two regions can take turns to rotate between themselves the Presidency and Vice Presidency for as long as they wish.

In saying so, Osinbajo sounded as if he is working for the entire Southwest and it will be open bidding if things flow his way and the Southwest returns after only 16 years to take the presidency in 2023. But I can say on my honour that Prof. Osinbajo is working for himself. He hopes to be president after Buhari in 2023 and whatever he says and does now is calculated towards that ambition.

I pray for his success and also hope that the 2023 mission does not amount to challenging his ori to a wrestling match. For now, the Southwest geo-political zone within the APC’s scheme is divided between him and his mentor, Ashiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. They are not by any description equal partners and I have reliably gathered that the latter who is also the principal partner is not entirely disinterested in 2023. But first things first! What is hot on the table right now is buying the presidential slot for 2023 with Southwest votes for Buhari on February 16, 2019. The partners will devise some way to cross over safely when they get to that dangerous bridge.

Before then, Prof. Osinbajo should remember that this presidency thing will finish one day and he will be required to return to his three constituencies; namely the university, law practice and the church. This is also the time for him to work out what to say when questions are asked later. Definitely, his colleagues in the university will ask him to explain why he joined Buhari who is not a professor to almost permanently keep the campuses under lock and key. Or if they choose to be a bit charitable, they will ask him to explain why he stood idly by the side while the APC-controlled federal government, in a fit of philistinism, devalued the university system to base degree.

He shall leave the campus for the courts where he will be asked to reiterate his proclamation that at all times, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) does not require Senate confirmation to operate and why nothing was done to achieve executive compliance after the Supreme Court had ruled that some executive appointments including the chairmanship of the EFFC do indeed require legislative confirmation to remain effective. Thereafter, he shall face the church where all instances when the Vice President told lies just to get by will be replayed.

It will seem like judgment day when Osinbajo will wish for a second chance to relive his years in government and make amends. It will also seem like being in the grave where there is no repentance. Which is why, even at the risk of being mobbed by some fanatical supporters of the VP, I am sticking out my neck to advise him to act well so that he will not need to explain well when he is called by his constituencies to account.

There is just one more thing that I want to say about this money sharing scheme called Tradermoni. It just dawned on me that neither Osinbajo nor Buhari has the patent right over that idea. A certain Ayodele Fayose who was governor of Ekiti State till October 16 this year does. That he called his own money sharing programme “stomach infrastructure” does not change the facts of the matter. I am not aware of any express permission granted by the patent right owner, Fayose for Vice President Osinbajo to operate ‘stomach infrastructure’ rechristened ‘Tradermoni’ after baptism by the VP who is also a pastor and lawyer.

And as a lawyer, Prof. Osinbajo ought to have known that patent right infringement is highly actionable. What is even more annoying is that when Fayose was running his stomach infrastructure in Ekiti State, there was no evil that the APC establishment did not say about the programme. It was tagged a conduit to siphon public money to Fayose’s pockets and a product of unimaginative reasoning.

I thought they said people who live or hope to live in glass houses should avoid throwing stones. Why was APC with even a worse rogue mentality casting stones at Fayose? What has changed to make sharing of raw cash in market squares such an attractive socio-economic empowerment scheme that a whole Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) is more than prepared to breach an established law to adopt it? I am therefore also advising Prof. Osinbajo to get himself prepared for the litigations ahead. He and his party cannot steal another man’s idea to make huge political gains and walk away just like that without paying adequate compensation.

On 2023, incidentally, yet another operative in the APC’s scheme, Dr. Chris Ngige, former governor of Anambra State and minister of Labour and Productivity, is giving the same condition for the Presidency to get to the Southeast in 2023. He has enjoined Ndigbo to support Buhari’s re-election bid so that Aso Rock can become theirs after four years. And so, between Osinbajo and Ngige the price for the presidency in 2023 has been settled and it is as cheap as support for Buhari in 2019.

While Osinbajo may follow up with an intensification of Tradermoni in the Southwest, Ngige has nothing other than empty rhetoric to offer his region. But it must be noted that his aspiration is far more legitimate considering that the non-occupation of the Aso Rock Villa by an Ndigbo as chief tenant, since only God knows when, has become part of the big questions for determination as the search for nationhood continues on bumpy paths.