Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) is undoubtedly an outstanding academic, a leading light in the legal profession, a tested public servant and more instructive a minister in God’s Vineyard. In spite of the highly impressive profile however, it is becoming crystal clear that the political terrain is not suited for the kind of leadership Nigerians expected of him. At a most inauspicious moment in history when the country not only totters but straddles at the precipice, providence has thrust a strategic responsibility upon the acting vice president. But the challenge is no longer about how much Nigerians expect from the vice president, but how much authority the man could possible asserts considering the milieu at the corridors of power.
To be sure, there is no doubt that the man at the saddle would wrestle, kick and even growl if the need arises; notwithstanding his diminutive stature. Nevertheless, there is no assurance he could effectively withstand the howling hawks already hauling stones at the seat of power. For a man who came into office, from a populist background, as vice president but now hypothetically at the helm of affairs by virtual of the incapacitation of his principal; the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C), all the theories and niceties often weave around utopia of governance may have finally given way to new realities.
No one can be too sure the acting president would brace up to the new realities even when the exigencies of the moment so appropriately caution. In the circumstance, the best anyone could do is to entreat and hope that supplication would justify the end; willy-nilly. Unfortunately however, neither do Nigerians nor Professor Osinbajo bargain for the needless political impasse that has become so apparent regardless of the denials being orchestrated by vociferous wing of the ruling class. In any case, the least Nigerians expected at this time were some nebulous power hierarchies throwing up pawns of power; muscling for relevance at the presidency. To put it bluntly therefore, a powerless acting president is hardly the physician to offer the much-needed therapy for the terminal illness that confronts the country. The task of national reengineering of the moment entails not just a legitimate but assertive captain to painstaking undertake appropriate diagnosis and prognosis to salvage the sinking boat.
Whatever the case, the acting president would appear to be learning some new lessons in politics as well as relevant in the rudiments of intricately consuming power game beyond the motor-park frenzy of an opposition candidate. It certainly couldn’t have been a convenient option for acting president Osinbajo to be on the defensive with regards to Ibrahim Magu’s headship of Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). The acting president must have been taken aback by the refrain of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to the effect that statement by the acting chief helmsman was personal opinion that should not be taken as official position of the presidency. But indeed, the AGF or any of the aides of the C-in-C should not be blamed for telling Nigerians in clear terms that the Presidency rather than the Senate was responsible for the seamless drama which Magu’s confirmation has elicited. It is evident the acting president was an outsider in the deep-seated scheming which saw to the rejection of Magu twice at the senate.
Alas, there is one patriotic option open to Professor Osinbajo rather than joining the bandwagon of ultra-democrats who continue to impress it on Nigerians that Magu could continue as EFCC Chairman in violation of a constitutional process. The vice president should have asserted his authority by re-forwarding Magu’s nomination to the senate for confirmation having ensured withdrawal of hitherto indicting security dossiers and that no further damning report against emanate from the hawks at the presidency. But if the acting presidency could not fathom such simple antidote to the presidential intrigues, how can he possibly undertake the critical assignment at this perilous time in nation-hood beyond embarking on time-serving palliative shuttles aimed at massaging the egos of few prominent stakeholders.
Nigeria is at a critical juncture of her troubled political history. The union is palpably threatened to the point of no return; except something urgently is done to forge a new momentum of reintegration. To reverse the ugly trend of disintegration, the political leadership needs to appreciate that time is indeed running out beyond mere palliative. The urgency of the political therapy which the prevailing situation demands, no doubt, requires uncommon leadership; bold and altruistic. The critical challenge of the moment is to navigate an enduring future that is satisfactory and convincing enough to reassure aggrieved stakeholders in the Nigeria project.
The task of the moment demands the zeal of a political avant-garde; so to say. However, it is most unlikely the Acting Vice President fit the bill of a revolutionary which the tests of the time require, considering the emerging posturing at the seat of power. In acting capacity, the best Professor Osinbajo would most probably achieve is to struggle for space to maintain the ensnaring status quo even when the position of the ball conflicts with his conviction; and if not conscience.