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What it takes to win delegates

By Mallam Isyaku Kazaure
25 May 2022   |   2:49 am
With panache, charm and suaveness, the All Progressives Congress (APC) frontline aspirant and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo

Osinbajo

With panache, charm and suaveness, the All Progressives Congress (APC) frontline aspirant and Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has intensified his efforts at convincing the delegates across the country on the strength of his candidacy and vision for the country, as he vies to replace his principal, President Buhari, in 2023.

From the formal announcement of his campaign and now to the engagement of party stakeholders, Prof. Osinbajo has distinguished himself as a class apart through compelling actions that have resonated with his audience and Nigerians in general.

Armed with an iPad, the Vice President has introduced a refreshing seriousness and dynamism to the engagement of delegates across the states. Many delegates have attested to the persuasive strength of his interactive style and charisma, affirming too that he has displayed the highest level of preparation for the high office and genuine commitment to obtaining feedback in respectful dialogues.

He does not perch on high tables, to be feted by delegates. Rather, he steps off the podium to meet with the delegates, addresses each one by name – to their pleasant surprise, and responds to their concerns about the party and the country with a depth that advertises his intelligence and the unmatched ability for quick, on-the-spot thinking – the sort of quality Nigeria requires to steady her boat in the months ahead.

Every engagement with delegates ends with a free-access photo session, in which all present are offered an intriguing opportunity to freeze in time and keep memorabilia of their exchange with the country’s second citizen whose down to earth humanness, quick wits, and clarity of vision earned him their support and perhaps, votes. It would also mark a point of reminder to future President Yemi Osinbajo that, indeed, he met them and made promises – promises that must be kept. It is this willingness to be vulnerable to the people that marks one of the abiding uniqueness that Osinbajo has elevated in national politics.

Noteworthy is that the engagements are devoid of partisan bitterness or discrimination. Even three young men adorning campaign materials of Bola Tinubu, the former Lagos Governor with the same ambition as Prof. Osinbajo, were given equal access, in Osun over the weekend provoking a blast of accolades to the VP on social media, when his opponents had hoped to use that to embarrass him politically.

Prof. Osinbajo respects the delegate’s freedom of choice, while also believing in the power of persuasion. It is a profound demonstration of his commitment to the notion that real power does not belong to henchmen and strong men in politics, but really to the people. It is also a testament to his devotion to party unity, during and after the internal contest, and the ethos of democracy. This has struck a chord with most delegates, including those in other camps who may now be reassessing their choice.

The Vice President has caused a stir in their hearts and has connected with Nigerians who are ready for a new movement, a shift from Nigeria’s problematic ‘godfather’ approach to politics and governance. Candidates should be made or marred by the strength of their vision and preparedness for office. This is the Osinbajo way, and he is pleading his case directly to the people, counting on their conviction and earned support for success. It is the way of true democracy, the sort that births progress and prosperity.

During his engagements with delegates, issues ranging from power, security, social empowerment, agriculture, and women’s participation in politics and governance are extensively discussed, with delegates receiving answers that deepen their understanding of the country and illuminate Prof. Osinbajo’s outstanding credentials.

A powerful instance was in Nassarawa State where a female delegate tasked the Vice President with his commitment to the 35 per cent affirmative action policy, a policy formulated by the National Gender Policy in 2006 to ensure a minimum 35 per cent inclusion of women in all governance processes.

As is obvious, this policy has been hardly honored and it forms an important advocacy point for gender equality proponents who, rightly, insist on the importance of equitable representation of women in politics and governance.

To answer, Prof. Osinbajo told the delegate, and others present, that 41 per cent of his present staff are women, a notable improvement on the stipulated 35 per cent. It was a response that laid to rest any doubt on his allegiance to women and their advancement in all areas of life, including politics and governance.

Without argument, the female delegates in the hall immediately knew who had their votes. No amount of money was going to change their minds. And this is just one of many questions that the VP has addressed from state to state, comfortably swaying delegates his way.

His engagement has shredded the caricature of delegates as money-driven chancers, lacking principles and gumption. He believes that they are human beings, too, with an active conscience who both care about the fate of the party at the polls and the future of the country.

Critics may put this down to idealism – but ideas change people and the world. Every change begins with a courageous leader who insists on a fresh path, the path to collective greatness. His message to the country is simple: that belief in a person armed with the right ideas and competence is in many ways worth more than money or politics for the sake of it.

And increasingly, more and more Nigerians, including APC delegates are beginning to see a mirror of themselves in Prof Osinbajo. His interests – a peaceful, prosperous, and united country where everyone is supported to fulfil their God-given potentials – align with theirs.

As the Primaries approach, there’s no doubt that Professor Yemi Osinbajo has endeared himself and his style of politics to the delegates and these delegates have become convinced of the need to step into this new era of brilliant, innovative policy positions. It is the reason they will commit their votes to the Vice President and their decision will create a ripple effect across the country.

Osinbajo’s warmth, personal charm, and erudition have presented an appealing path to the APC delegates and Nigerians. His way is winning and Nigeria will be better for it.

Mallam Isyaku Kazaure is former National Secretary of Arewa Political Forum