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2023: A quest for purposeful leadership and devious notion of betrayal

2023: A quest for purposeful leadership and devious notion of betrayal
May 12
09:33 2022

BY JOHHN TOCHUKWU OLISA

The journey toward the 2023 Nigeria presidential election is another characteristic and highly tempestuous one. The heat has increased since Monday, 11 April 2022 when Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, officially declared his intention to contest for the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The declaration has finally put to rest all assumptions and speculations about his intention to run for Nigeria’s topmost executive position. In like manner, it has also raised serious dust in the camp of his supposed benefactor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a fellow presidential aspirant. This very singular action by the vice president seems to have stung the hearts of Tinubu’s supporters to fury. They contend that the vice president’s declaration to run for president is tantamount to betraying Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. They claim that Asiwaju is the one who brought the vice president to the political limelight, hence, he ought not to contest against him insisting that doing so, and running for the same position will amount to biting the finger that once fed him. This, to say the least, is preposterous and I beg to differ.

The word ‘betray’ is defined by Cambridge Dictionary to mean “to not be loyal to your country or person by doing something harmful such as helping their enemies’. For betrayal to be said to have occurred, there must have been a relationship between the betrayer and the betrayed. There must also be duties and obligations both parties have towards each other, which have been breached.

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For betrayal to be said to have occurred, there must have been written or unwritten expectations between both parties to do certain things or refrain from doing certain things. Where such is absent, betrayal cannot be said to have occurred. At no point in time, from any available records has Asiwaju agreed with Professor Yemi Osinbajo to have either of them refrain from contesting for the office of President, neither has the vice president ever expressly nor impliedly agreed with Asiwaju to be refrain from contesting. So, the question then is, where does the issue of betrayal come from? By the way, the constitution has no recognition of such a word as “betrayal” in the context of presidential aspirations.

It can be recalled that in 1978, late Chief Bola Ige, then under the aegis of UPN, contested for the governorship ticket of Oyo state against reverend Alayande, one of his former school teachers. Chief Ige won the 1979 elections and was never tagged as a betrayer. Recall also the story of Aminu Tambuwal, a one-time personal assistant to Senator Abdallah Wali. They both contested for the governorship seat of Sokoto state, and Tambuwal won and is still the current governor. Tambuwal was never branded as a betrayer.

Still speaking on the word ‘betrayal’, it means not to be loyal to your country. Betrayal of one’s country is exhibited in different ways. One way is by exposing one’s country to danger by treacherously giving information to an enemy. Another way betrayal is exhibited is by being disloyal to one’s country. Disloyalty manifests itself in many ways, the primary of which is refusing to use one’s gifts, talents, and capabilities to serve the interests of one’s country.

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To this end, there are several questions begging for answers and these are; firstly, for a man who significantly as Attorney General of Lagos state, between 1999- 2007 and these include upgrading courtroom infrastructure, reducing case backlogs and delays, restoring public confidence in effectively getting justice through the Lagos state commercial courts, laying the foundation for the state as the most advanced state in terms of legal reforms, in spite of all these, will it not amount to an act of betrayal for such a competent man with evident results to refrain from contesting for the office of president?

Second, for someone as the vice president who as attorney general of Lagos state secured a landmark victory against the federal government at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, which has expanded discussions on matters of local government creation, and inspired other states like Oyo and Osun to create additional local government areas to enrich government at the grassroots, and which has also laid the foundation for Executive Order 10 which gave autonomy to state legislature, judiciary, and local government administration, will it not amount to unpardonable betrayal for such great reformer to refrain from using his capabilities to reform the Nigerian Justice system, if he becomes president?

Third, for someone who as vice-president, under the aegis of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), achieved the following great feats: Provision of free/reduced fees for registration of new businesses with over 300,000 new businesses registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission, as well as launching shared facilities by MSMEs, by which MSMEs, without the financial capacity to own their own equipment gained the opportunity to go into the fully equipped cluster-style facility to pay a token to use such equipment; will it not amount to betrayal for such outstanding performer to decline from contesting for President, and thereby not being able to do more of what he has started?

Interesting enough, for someone who as acting president, signed the Presidential Executive Order on Ease of Doing Business (aimed at improving business in the country and attracting Foreign Direct Investment to Nigeria, which order has increased the ranking of Nigeria on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Rankings, and has led global companies like Microsoft and Google to open offices in the country, will it not be an act of betrayal for such a man who has the capacity to attract more Foreign Direct Investment to Nigeria, to decide not to contest for President?

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Lastly, for a man who while as acting president was loyal to his boss, President Buhari, especially when he was ill and recuperating, and still consulted him on practically everything before acting, not betraying him or abusing power, will it be right to classify such man as a betrayer?

The story of the servant’s talents and wise master is playing out today in Nigeria. Professor Yemi Osinbajo, by deciding to contest for the office of president, has chosen to act as the wise servant with five talents. He has chosen to use his gifts, talents, and capabilities to lay the foundation of the Nigeria of our collective dreams. He has decided not to be like the servant with one talent; he has decided not to bury his talents; he has decided not to refrain from contesting for the Nigerian Presidency; he has decided not to betray the trust of millions of Nigerians by shying away from serving Nigerians as President. Professor Osinbajo has decided to give his all for the advancement of Nigeria, and for this, he must be greatly applauded.

John Tochukwu Olisa writes from Abuja.

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