LAGOS – As the 2023 presidential election begins to gather momentum, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has been urged not to reject the ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) if stakeholders in the party picks him as their preferred candidate.
Speaking exclusively with Daily Independent, Senator Rufai Hanga, pioneer national chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), said from the looks of things in the APC, President Muhammadu Buhari may not honour the pact he had with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former Lagos State governor and APC national leader, that he will support him to become the party’s presidential flagbearer in the 2023 elections.
Osinbajo, a former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice during Tinubu’s eight years as Lagos State governor, was nominated by Tinubu as running mate to Buhari, then APC presidential candidate in December 2014.
Tinubu, who had earlier been penciled down by Buhari as his running mate was dropped after party leaders rejected the idea of the APC fielding a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
With intense clamour from several groups on Tinubu and Osinbajo to contest in 2023, analysts have predicted that the vice president may bow out of the race in deference to his former principal, so as not to be labelled as a “betrayer”.
However, Hanga, who recently dumped the APC, said Osinbajo should accept the ticket if offered to him by the party, adding that there is no way doing so will amount to a betrayal if the party rejects Tinubu.
He said Osinbajo turning down the offer to become APC’s flagbearer after the party leadership has rejected Tinubu will amount to the Tinubu group losing out completely in the party.
He said, “I think if Osinbajo contests in 2023, it is not a betrayal to his former boss, Asiwaju. I believe Osinbajo is a complete gentleman. He is one of the most respected politicians in this country. I respect him too. I assure you that if he goes for the presidency, I may support him.
“I want to guarantee you that Osinbajo will not go for the presidency until it is clear that Asiwaju is not contesting. If he sees clearly that the people in APC will not allow Asiwaju to contest, I am sure he will accept to run because he will not want the two of them to lose out.
“If APC says to Osinbajo ‘come let us give you our presidential ticket, we don’t want Asiwaju’, he will agree. To me, that is the most responsible thing to do. That to me is not betrayal and I am sure even Asiwaju will not be angry if he does that because it is the same thing.
“If APC rejects Asiwaju tomorrow and they said they wanted Osinbajo, I will advise him to accept it because it will still benefit Asiwaju.
“All Osinbajo needs do is to look for a person with strong followership in the North as running mate. They will definitely win. If Osinbajo is given the ticket now and he picks somebody like Kwankwaso, I swear to God, they will surely win.
“In the North, there is nobody like Kwankwaso now in terms of popularity. Kwankwaso today is what Buhari was in the North”.
On the pact which he claimed existed between the president and Tinubu, Hanga said associates of Buhari thought he had integrity when they were campaigning for him but saw his true colour after attaining power.
“I hope he will honour the agreement but I doubt if he will do so. Yes, people say he is a man of integrity. We also said that too, that he has integrity. That was why we sold and marketed him to Nigerians. But after he got to power, we saw a different thing altogether.
“We believed that he was a man of integrity; we believed that he is pious but after getting what he wants, we discovered a different thing altogether. So, I hope he will honour the pact he had with Asiwaju but I doubt if he would.
“Right now, there are people who are trying to manipulate him and he doesn’t have the strong will to do things. Some people say he has no capacity and I want to believe them that truly, he has no capacity.
“Somebody with capacity will question so many things going on around him. Buhari hears but he doesn’t listen. I can’t guarantee he will honour his agreement with Asiwaju on 2023 presidency”.