I read with deep interest an article published in Premium Times by my predecessor in the Senate as the representative of Osun Central Senatorial District, Senator Professor Sola Adeyeye.
I believe the description of him at the foot of the article as “the senator for Osun Central in the National Assembly” is clearly erroneous as since June 2019, I have been representing Osun Central Senatorial District in the Senate Chamber of the National Assembly.
Nonetheless, I find it curious that a news organ will not know that the Spokesperson of the Senate is the Senator representing Osun Central Senatorial District.
The central thesis of Senator Adeyeye is that Professor Yemi Osinbajo is the preferred aspirant of President Muhammadu Buhari on the account of what he considered to be the loyalty of Professor Yemi Osinbajo to the President and alleged inadequacies of other aspirants particularly Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
In pursuing this thesis for which he is apparently expressing the eventual triumph of Professor Osinbajo, he predicated his thesis on the following contentions: that a person can only attain the office of the president if he is supported by those he referred to as the establishment: that religion has almost lost relevance ultimately in the Nigeria political context; that the president was referring to Professor Osinbajo when he answered the question on who is the favourite among the aspirants in a live television interview; that President Buhari will anoint Professor Osinbajo as appreciation of the later’s loyalty; that most Buhari men are against Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; and of course making defamatory and denigrating remarks against Asiwaju Tinubu.
The Theory of Establishment as the only route to the Presidency appears to be the typification of Nigerian democracy by the writer. Senator Adeyeye asserted and I think rather firmly that “if the establishment does not want you, you can never win the presidency”.
I am at a loss to see the factual and empirical basis for this assertion in view of the recent political history of Nigeria that saw the presidency of President Buhari dislodging an incumbent President and a political party that has controlled the Presidency for about 16 years before the 2015 electoral loss.
Which establishment want President Buhari and the APC in 2015. I see here a clear attempt to use a banal assertion to becloud the spirited efforts of the coalition that ripened to the APC and the struggle of our leaders like President Buhari, Chief Bisi Akande, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu among others that ensure the presidency for the APC against all odds. Perhaps, Segun Adeniyi’s book with the title “Against the Run of Play” comes to mind.
Another banal assertion by the Distinguished Senator is that “religion as a factor in Nigerian political outcomes is overrated, especially at the national level.” Beyond this mere assertion, I am yet to see the empirical study that support the assertion. His further assertion that “when it matters, realpolitik always trumps religion” leaves the gaping questions of “when realpolitik matter?” and “who determines when realpolitik matters?”
I see in the assertion an overly dangerous assumption that mass of the people and their opinions can be easily discounted in a democratic polity. To dismiss with a stroke of pen the possible effects of religion in a largely traditional society like ours in democratic choices is far from being profound.
Is the Senator oblivious of the fact that Professor Yemi Osinbajo became Vice President in 2105 largely due to the orchestrated campaign again a Muslim/Muslim ticket because President Buhari was perceived to be an Islamic extremist and hence the party needed a Pastor from the South West to ensure the candidacy is sellable to the southerners?
My sense in reading the article is that people are outrightly discounted in our democratic enterprise, what matters from his theory is the predisposition of what he termed the “establishment”. Therefore, the mission for the Distinguished Senator is simple, market the aspiration of Professor Osinbajo and make disparaging and even outright defamatory assertions against other aspirants, particularly Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to curry the favour, nay the endorsement of “the establishment” for his aspirant. I indeed find very interesting that the Senator readily asserted with apparent finality “that Nigeria is not a land of political revolution.” These are indeed very interesting times!
According to Professor Adeyeye, “If the North thought Osinbajo a problem on religious grounds, he wouldn’t have been accepted as the vice president to a Buhari as president”. So, we are being told that it is the “North” that accepted Osinbajo as the Vice-President? Are we being taken on a journey of amnesia on how Professor Osinbajo became the Vice President by mere assertion and deliberate distortion?
So, it is the “Northern establishment” that suo motu “notice(d) the genius behind the string of legal victories – Professor Yẹmí Osìnbàjò” and his emergence is not part of the negotiated political arrangements with our party Leaders in the South West after the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC)?