Nigeria’s Vice President has formally declared his long-held intention to run for President in an underwhelming and self-sabotaging speech. His excellent poise and delivery would have been enough to sway gullible citizens but Nigerians have long learnt to look past a soothing voice and a calm demeanour. A severe case of once bitten, twice shy.
Yemi Osinbajo is not only a lawyer, but a professor, a pastor and Nigeria’s second citizen. Naturally, all the cards should be in his favour. However, his honourable titles have done nothing but prove that one bad egg indeed spoils the rest. By mere association with the current government, earning the people’s trust is something he would have to work hard for.
If he planned to do that in his declaration speech, then Osinbajo has shot himself in the foot.
His opening line, ‘In the past seven years, I have served as Vice President under a true Nigerian patriot, a servant of the nation in war and peace, and a man of integrity, President Muhammadu Buhari,’ has left many wondering if the VP is still acting with his hands tied. What about Buhari makes him a servant of the nation, his constant shock at disasters in the country or his frequent trips out of the country? If Osinbajo is to prove his loyalty, then he must show us who he serves. His boss or his people?
The Vice President does not halt his suicide mission of a speech there. He goes ahead to tell us his conversations with Nigerians from all walks of life have helped him understand their fears and hopes. This has made him ‘believe that the very reason why the Almighty God gave me these experiences, these insights, and these opportunities, is that they must be put to the use of our country and its great peoples.’ As a pastor, there is no doubt this mandate has come from God himself. Brilliant. However, the same Bible which guides him declares, ‘he who is not faithful in little cannot be faithful in much.’ So, I ask; in his 7 years as Vice President, how has he used these God-given experiences to shape the nation? Or at the very least, an attempt.
His sense of humour, which I did not know he had, comes to play in his promises. The first assurance is to complete what the current administration has started. Dear Osinbajo, I can assure you that as a Nigerian, you have not relieved our fears, you have only worsened them! His promises of radically transforming our security and intelligence architecture; completing the reform of our justice system; rapidly advancing our infrastructure development, especially power, roads, railways and broadband connectivity; is baffling, to say the least.
Just under this administration, the rates of banditry and kidnapping have astronomically risen. Justice has been denied to victims of the EndSARS protest. Twitter was banned for seven months! Yet, he says he plans to complete what the current administration has started. What a poor choice of words.
I’ll give the Vice President one thing – eloquence and charm. However, gone are the days when we were moved by outward appearances. Photos of sharing a cup of tea with a child in the village are not going to cut it either. Nigerians have learnt to clearly distinguish promises from the truth. If the Vice President plans to woo us into voting him as President then he ought to do two things – prove his loyalty and hire a better speechwriter.
Claire Mom is a Nigerian journalist. Email her at clairemom26@ayeomo