Tinubu vs Osinbajo, an intriguing South West political derby (II) - By: Iliyasu Gadu | Dailytrust

Tinubu vs Osinbajo, an intriguing South West political derby (II)

Tinubu and Osinbajo
Tinubu and Osinbajo

As Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Vice President Osinbanjo prepare to go head-to-head in the contest to decide who takes the presidential nomination of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the question that looms large is can Tinubu retain his political supremacy in the South West or has the VP garnered enough political stock to dethrone him from his perch?

Although the presidential primaries of the APC will not be restricted to delegates from the South West alone, attention will be riveted on how it plays out there by most political observers. In this regard, nobody expects that the ensuing battle to win the soul of South West politics between Tinubu and Osinbajo will be a tale of roses and lavender.

Tinubu’s people have let out that by declaring to contest the position, the VP is engaging in the most unpardonable act of betrayal to his benefactor. They allege that the VP owes his rise to his present position to Tinubu who first plucked him from relative obscurity as law teacher at the University of Lagos to become the Attorney-General of Lagos under the tenure of Tinubu as governor of Lagos State. And they further claim that it was Tinubu who recommended the VP for appointment as running mate to then APC candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, in 2015.

The VP has sought to counter these arguments by alluding to the fact that he never lobbied to be appointed to the two positions and that the first was merited and was indeed a fig leaf task which he performed for the Lagos State government under Tinubu in its fight with the President Obasanjo-led federal government over finances due to the state.        

As for becoming the running mate of Candidate Buhari for which Tinubu has taken credit, the VP countered that again he never sought it and he was minding his business somewhere in Abuja far removed from the jostling going on for the position when the present interior minister, Rauf Aregbesola, and Senator Kunle Amosun popped up with the information that he was the chosen to run with Candidate Buhari in 2015.

As far as the narrative on betrayal goes between Tinubu and the VP, there seems to be only one story which conveniently casts Tinubu as the victim.

But have we stopped to think that Tinubu himself might just be as guilty of the same thing his minions are accusing the VP of?

Was Tinubu himself not a protégé of Dapo Sarunmi and Prince Ademola Adeniji Adele (known as AAA), the two prime movers of the primrose political group of Lagos in the late 1980s to the 1990s? Lest we forget, it was that group that first provided Tinubu with the spring that launched him into the political fame he enjoys today. Did Tinubu by this not come under the attention of the Afenifere group who took him under its wing as a rising political star and projected him to further political limelight? I knew all these during my days as a reporter in Lagos following the pulse beat of Lagos politics of that era.

Many do not know that as his political standing rose exponentially, the relationship between Tinubu and these benefactors of his began to go pear shaped. At his passing, Prince Adeniji Adele was not on the radar of Tinubu and his political machine. As for Sarunmi, who many consider as the second most influential political personality in Lagos after the late governor of Lagos, Lateef Kayode Jakande, it cannot be said that Tinubu gives him a thought. And if one approaches the raspy voiced nonagenarian Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the leader of the Afenifere, for his views about Tinubu, what one will hear will not be fit to print.

But talks of betrayal aside, many believe that despite his close proximity to the seat of power as VP for the past seven years, Osinbajo has not garnered enough political momentum to upstage Tinubu in the contest to decide who wins the APC presidential nomination between the two. Although the VP can count on a large following among the young and the upwardly mobile professional class of south westerners, let us not forget this contest is not about the popular vote in a general election. It is a party election to be decided by party delegates and this is where Tinubu has the upper hand against the VP. Tinubu can count on the solid and massive support of the APC south western delegates across board even though some of them may have to cover their noses while voting for him.  

What is going for Tinubu in these circumstances is that between the two, he is by far the more grounded politician than the VP. Nigerian politicians as a cardinal but unspoken rule flock to the one with whom they share some kind of political affinity even if they do often disagree mutually. Many may consider Tinubu and his ways abhorrent, but when it comes to the crunch, especially against a relative political neophyte like the VP, do not expect him to go far.

Like or loathe him, Tinubu holds the political aces in terms of political pedigree, political instincts and savviness, political network, political IOUs, cash reserves and willingness to spend it generously in pursuit of his political cause. He speaks the language the political delegates understand and by instincts they will gravitate towards him despite themselves.

Contrastingly, the VPs mileage in all of these, such as it is, measures poorly. If this were to be a contest in persuasive public speaking and the ability to crunch the numbers and parade a resume of cutting edge academic qualifications and achievements, the VP might carry the day. But as the APC primaries will not be determined by these factors, VP Osinbajo will certainly bite the dust against Tinubu in the south west political derby.


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