Dr Olukayode Ajulo, constitutional lawyer and civil rights activist is the founder and Principal Partner at Kayode Ajulo and Co Castle of Law. The former National Secretary of the Labour Party speaks on issues surrounding the 2023 presidency and why he believes Vice President Yemi Osinbajo should succeed President Muhammadu Buhari. Excerpts:
The race towards 2023 is gathering momentum, what are your perspectives?
There is no denying the fact that the race towards the 2023 general election is gathering momentum and you would agree that the aspirants, dreamers and well-wishers are getting set on their tracks for the race! What is more, in this part of the divide, politicians always wait till the last lap, and this is the last lap, as we will be having a new President next year.
Politicians will tell you that they don’t want to start early because of the way the Nigerian system is built, because if they start early, it means they will spend more. This is the dress rehearsal for 2023.
After a careful analysis of the leading potential Presidential Candidates in the coming election, it is an undeniable fact that Prof Yemi Osinbajo has no doubt established a strong base upon which we can consolidate for the future and his political ideology has stood the test of time. Prof Yemi Osinbajo has more intellectual endowment, superior pedigree and moral heft than other potential contestants.
Most of those you see, their garments are already tainted. If they don’t have corruption cases on their neck, they are fraught with health-related disabilities. A perfunctory and careful synopsis on some of these would be aspirants and dreamers, one would be left in the befuddling quagmire of choosing the right candidate who is the fitting round peg in the round hole.
From whatever angle this issue is tilted, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is far ahead of other Aspirants in this race towards 2023.
Quite paradoxically, despite the fact that Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is yet to officially declare his intention, largely due to the enormous national assignment committed into his hands, yet, the support has been massive from professional groups, ethnic groups, artisans, businessmen and so on, rooting and calling him to declare his intention. I am sure that at the appropriate time, he will yield to the demand of the people, he will declare his intention.
It will also be interesting to note that though the Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has not formally declared his intention, yet from the recent events, one does not need a soothsayer to know that the cynosure of all eyes are on him.
What are the factors that will determine Nigeria’s next president?
Come to think of it, if you are to fly to Lagos today and they bring a pilot who last flew ten or twenty years ago, rickety and old without current experience to fly you to Lagos, I know you don’t need a prophet before you jump off the plane. However, if they bring you a co-pilot who has been flying all around the world with the requisite modern technical know-how and expertise, you will definitely jump on board.
Nigerians need a president who is not distant from the agitation and everyday experience of the common people. A grassroot leader who can resonate well with the social vices beleaguering the country and has the capacity to ameliorate same.
Whatever standard, whatever indices you employ, you will find out that at the end of the day that your choice is Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. That is the reason why somebody like me and millions of Nigerians spread across the country and beyond are saying it has to be Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
Prof. Yemi Osinbajo’s youthful vivacity, unwavering faith in the youth, his enlightened trust in their capability for carving an organic nation out of a disparate country, for me is the high point of the quality that will determine who becomes the next president of the country. The future is now!
Don’t you think the Vice President’s silence is a minus?
Let me state pronto that the words of the legendary Leonardo da Vinci which has stood the test of time like the rock of Gibraltar that “nothing strengthens authority so much as silence” is quite pungent.
It is beyond conjectures that Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is saddled with a lot of responsibility as the Vice President of the largest country in Africa with over 200 million populace.
Aside presiding over matters of national interest, he has travelled to every part of the country and many parts of the world. He is the most engaging public servant in Nigeria. One can readily remember how he escaped death by the whiskers when his chopper was involved in a ghastly accident more than once in the line of duty and he survived!
To state the obvious, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is a man who believes his work should speak for him. He has a principal that he has remained faithful to, and I am sure that aside the Right of First refusal which the Vice President is entitled to, the greatest legacy President Muhammadu Buhari would like to bequeath to Nigerians is to reward the faithfulness, hard work, selfless service and loyalty of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo by supporting his becoming the next President.
I am eagerly looking towards the President being the chief promoter, campaigner of his loyal Deputy, and that is the way it should be as President Barrack Obama did to President Joe Biden. That is my wish, my dream in this coming election.
Don’t you think Asiwaju Bola Tinubu might have an edge if President Buhari considers political expediency in view of the support he gave during the President’s election in 2015 and 2019?
Make no mistake about it, I have great respect and reverence for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who had not only made an indelible mark in the Nigerian political space but also for the people of Lagos State. However, if one must be sincere and not bend the truth by the elbow, Asiwaju’s era has become an incredible hallmark in the history of this Country as I see him more as an elder statesman that we should all go to for tutelage and direction.
I can vividly remember that I was just a man in the University when Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu became the Governor of Lagos State today my daughters are in Universities, how do I explain things to them.
Without doubt, asking Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to become the next president under the guise of rewarding his support to the President during the presidential election is like calling on the likes of Abedi Pele, and his Nigerian contemporary, Rasheedi Yeniki to play in the world cup with likes of Ronaldo, Messi, and Mohammed Sala. This is definitely a disaster going somewhere to happen.
For whether we like it or not, the obvious glares into our very eyes like the morning sun that the world is changing and so must the modus operandi of governance change.
Let me reiterate again, the Presidency is not for sale and same is not to reward the action or inaction of any person. What Nigerians need at the moment without mincing words is a democratically elected government thoroughly equipped with modern political awareness and inclusiveness and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is the right fit for the position.
What do you consider the greatest legacy this president can bequeath to Nigerians?
To move the country forward, I believe the greatest legacy President Mohammadu Buhari can bequeath to Nigerians is a Standard of Operation for good governance.
The President has done so much. In the area of infrastructure, give it to President Buhari. In the area of security, irrespective of the noise about Boko Haram, at least we are still united as a country, we still remain Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In the area of corruption, has showed us that there are no sacred cows. He has fought corruption without political coloration. All his promises, he has fulfilled them in spite of daunting challenges.
That is why I was surprised when somebody accused me of mocking the President over his health, I said I never mocked the President. It is quite obvious that I have assiduously defended Mr. President’s tenure and have also acted as a Counsel to defend his mandate at the last presidential election tribunals; Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.
Is it any wonder that during the last TV interview the President granted, Mr President gave an honest evaluation of his health status and age? He noted that once his tenure ends, he will go home to rest. We don’t need to deceive ourselves. People sometimes mention Joe Biden, forgetting that Biden is American, Meanwhile, this is Nigeria. By the time you check the life span of an average American, you see the difference. God has been so nice, so kind to President Muhamadu Buhari, he has survived bomb blast, survived coups and he has enjoyed long life. His name will be written in gold, even diamond. However, we need to move forward. We need somebody that can further build on the existing foundation. Imagine Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on world stage. Imagine him in the world arena, flowing with Presidents of other nations, I know what the pride of being a Nigerian at such moments mean.
Imagine the intellectual capacity of the Vice President, imagine his sincerity, imagine his integrity, in a country where news about sleaze, corruption is all over the world.
And let me add this for the enlightenment of the people who have questioned the competence of Vice President under the present administration and want the Vice President to operate beyond his constitutional marks, Prof. Osinbajo’s roles as the Vice President have been cut clear by the Constitution, his brief is to take charge in the absence of his Principal as there can’t be two drivers on the wheel at the same time. Give it to him, the few times he spent on the driver’s seat are resounding and instructive of the hope we seek.
Zoning is an issue in Nigeria, where do you stand?
Let’s be real, Zoning is not an albatross in Nigeria. It was so unfortunate listening to one of the Presidential aspirants speak on the issue. This is a serial Presidential aspirant, saying zoning is not in the Nigerian Constitution, and I weep for the system that propped up such an individual. How can you aspire to be the President of Nigeria without having an informed knowledge of the intent and letters of our Constitution? Too bad!