The eminent scholar emerged as the vice presidential flag bearer, not because he is an Ogun State indigene or for being a former Justice Commissioner in Lagos State. His choice as the running mate was on the strength of the convincing argument that the APC standard bearer needed a decent, loyal and hardworking Christian from the Southwest to meet the inevitable and non-negotiable criterion of the ethno-religious divide.
Yesterday, there was jubilation, not only in the Southwest region, but across the federation, following Osinbajo’s nomination as the running mate. But, in particular, the nomination has implications for the Southwest. Since 2007, the zone appears to have been marginalised. The nomination promptly restored a sense of belonging to the six states. Since the zone is now involved through the joint-ticket, its stakeholders will be more committed to the APC’s agenda for change in 2015. Also, across the 36 states, the elite are more likely to gravitate towards the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket. Both men are tested, trusted and courageous, in terms of devotion to public good.
At 73, the former military leader is on the soap box. With the 54 year-old Osinbajo beside him, the joint ticket is a blend of old age and youthfulness. Buhari, a committed Muslim from the North, and Osinbajo, a Christian cleric from the Southwest, are now strengthened in their determination to challenge Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the Southsouth, and his deputy, Namadi Sambo, an architect and Muslim from the Northwest, to a political duel. There is parity, as far as ethnic and religious factors, which politicians have successfully incorporated into contemporary politics, are concerned. The line of demarcation is the differential qualities of the characters on the APC and the PDP tickets. Observers believe that Nigerians are likely to take Buhari and Osinbajo seriously.
Buhari has stood for honour and discipline as a leader. He is simply incorruptible. Osinbajo has been committed to the strengthening of democracy through his judicial reforms when he held the forte as as Attorney-General and Justice Commissioner in Lagos between 1999 and 2007. He is an advocate of the protection of the temple of justice from the vulgarities of political life and societal vices.
Buhari/Osinbajo represents a rare Muslim/Christian ticket. Jonathan/Sambo is another Christian/Muslim ticket. The battle for Christian votes will be interesting. Apart from legal advocacy, the Church is also Osinbajo’s constituency. The charming and charismatic lawyer is not a nominal Christian. He has a mass appeal in the Christendom as an exemplary preacher of the Word. But, more importantly, the congregation has had cause to emulate him as a doer of the word. Like Buhari, Osinbajo is morally predictable and excellent.
From 1999, he has been a loyal, dependable and silent labourer in the camp of the progressives. His legal counsels, administrative acumen, uncanny capacity for research, understanding of the workings of government and sense of calmness and balance have been acknowledged by the academia, the bar, the bench, the government and the political class he has served with his best of ability for many decades.
Contrary to the belief in some quarters that Osinbajo came into limelight, following his appointment as the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, he has been around for a longer period. As a university teacher, he has taught promising Nigerians from the six geo-political zones, who still perceive him as a mentor and role model. As a university don at the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, and the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, he was a star professor. His intellectual stature reflects in his teaching endeavours, rigorous research and seminal contributions. The diminutive scholar is a six feet of intelligence. He always avoided controversy like a poison. When LASU was engulfed with protracted crises, which threatened a peaceful atmosphere for teaching and research, he refused to take sides in the divisive and highly destabilising crises. The law teacher retraced his steps to UNILAG. But, he also intensified his prayers for the crisis-ridden institution.
As a lawyer, Osinbajo was not in the mould of luminaries who indulged in trivialities. He is a thorough prosecution lawyer, who does not indulge in the politicisation of sensitive cases to make political gains out of litigation. He has often shunned financial inducement by unscrupulous elements to subvert the state in litigations involving the government and enemies of progress.
At his disposal are the power of ideas and imagination, weapons of incisive wit and organisational arsenal, and steady inclination for reforms. Brilliant, professionally assertive, focused and loyal to the people-oriented agenda, Osinbajo had hidden talents, which were unravelled by his involvement in politics and governance in the past. Many believe that he will add value to the administration, if elected as the vice president.
In fact, Buhari and Osinbajo share common traits and ideas about how a developing country should be run by visionary leaders. His thoroughness, modesty, aversion for graft, belief in the role of law in human development and passion for people’s welfare and national progress may make the Buhari/Osinbajo pair a perfect match. It is perhaps, a mark of humility that, despite his achievements as a scholar, legal luminary and priest, Osinbajo has kept a low profile. He has led a honourable life. Like Buhari, his public service career has been devoid of scandal.
The Buhari/Osinbajo ticket will also be captivating to the Yoruba political establishment because of the Awo factor.
Osinbajo is married to the daughter of the late Mrs. Ayodele Soyode, the lawyer-daughter of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
If Buhari and Osinbajo are elected, they will be partners in progress. There will be no acrimonious relationship between the president and his deputy. Since they have no skeletons in their cupboards and not in government to enrich themselves, Nigeria will be better for it.