Searching for a suitable vepee candidate from the North




A consensus is steadily building among the progressive members of the political class who are fair, just, equitable and who continue to believe in one united and strong Nigeriain favour of Vice president YemiOsinbajo becoming the presidential candidate of the ruling APC in 2023 and he eventually becoming the president of the country itself. This is especially so among the APC of which this writer is a partisan and a knowledgeable insider.

This development is hardly surprising. Osinbajo simply has no problem as Nigerians would put it in their usual jocularity. The man has nearly all what it takes to make a very good president for Nigeria. He is humble, almost self-effacing, a team player, a loyal follower of his principal and above all, very intelligent and self-controlled.

Beyond this, he is not loud at all which is very unlike most politicians in Nigeria and elsewhere in the tempestuous democratic world. He is simply just the type of man that can heal the high political temperature in the country right now in which a stranger to Nigeria may feel that the country will break up the next day.

Even in the fold of the man popularly known as the National Leader of the APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, from whence he came to national limelight who used to think that it will be both a betrayal and an embarrassment if Osinbajo puts himself forward or some other group pushes him forward for the coveted seat, there is a softening of position in favour of Osinbajo. Many top notchers within that camp are beginning to agree with the rest of other Nigerians that Osinbajo is more suitable than his god-father, Tinubu and that if APC picks Osinbajo rather than Tinubu, the party would have still kept faith with both Tinubu and the South West geo-political zone that helped the party to victories in 2015 and 2019, after all Osinbajo belongs to both.

If, as seems likely, Osinbajo emerges as the APC candidate for the 2023 presidential election, who then from the North, is going to partner him as running mate? There are a surfeit of choices. Current Kaduna Governor Nasir el-Rufai, current Communications and Digital Economy minister, Mallam Isa Pantami, current Borno Governor BabaganaZulum and FCT Minister Muhammed Bello.

Each of the above named candidates has one thing or two that can make them good complement to the personality and mentality of Osinbajo for a good working relationship that will conduce to the good governance and development of Nigeria but as our people usually say in their proverb even when you have two things, one of them will surely be better than the other! And in this analysis, the operational word is suitability. Who of the four and many others out there yet to come into reckoning will be the most suitable to partner Osinbajo and provide that working synergy that will take Nigeria to the next level?

Governor is known nationally as a performer and one may be tempted to root out for him but he has a very big ‘but’ against him. And that is his personality. He is a tempestuous and an ambitious person who may not have that much desired good working relationship with his principal. His speeches and actions may sound and look like he is out to undermine his boss. No one should try to play down this important factor because no matter how much grey matter both Osinbajo and el-Rufai collectively pack, if ego and subtle or open scheming come in to ruin the partnership, Nigerians may not get to see the benefit of the duo’s efforts.

Next comes Pantami who has the integrity, personality and mentality to complement a man like Osinbajo but because of the history of intolerance and bigotry that was recently uncovered about him, he will not be a saleable material if he is on the ticket with Osinbajo or anyone else from the South who emerges as presidential candidate. What is more, the recent questions raised about the professorship awarded him by the Federal University of Technology,Owerri makes him a liability not an asset to any party that fields him for a notable elective position in the country.

For a state like Borno that has been wrecked by over 11 years of Boko Haram insurgency and which has been blessed by an action-oriented man like BabaganaZulum to release such a man to take the position of Veepee which is like a spare tyre which is only useful when the main tyre bursts, is not going to be easy. Many will say Zulum should be left where he is now to his time to contest for the presidency after Osinbajo and somebody else would have exhausted their terms. After all, age is still on his side.

And that brings us to the last and by no means the least of the possible Veepee contestants FCT Minister Muhammad Musa Bello(Babangida). Humble, hard -working, intelligent and quiet Bello seems to me like someone tailor-made to work as a deputy to a man like Osinbajo or anyone else. He has the non-threatening personality that el-Rufai seems to have in great abundance. He is not the belligerent fire- spitting cleric who believes that everyone else who is otherwise should be converted to his own religion before there will be peace that Isa Pantami represents.

Another important factor in favour of Muhammad (Babangida)Bello is that he is a loyal and beloved aide of Mr. President, MuhammaduBuhari. His selection to be on the ticket with Osinbajo will inevitably force the hand of the President to be more committed to the success of both men who are loyal to him.  this analysis makes clear, the APC will maintain its winning streak come 2023 if party men and women are carefully schooled and influenced to first vote Osinbajo as the party’s primaries and Osinbaj and the rest of other stakeholders are persuaded to pick Bello as his able deputy for both to be old to Nigerians as the best hands that will steady the Nigerian ship in stormy waters.

Mallam Nataro is an aspirant for the Kebbi state governorship in 2023.