Despite that President Muhammadu Buhari and his Vice, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo are yet to be inaugurated for their second term in office, the race for the Presidency in 2023 may have commenced in earnest. While some northern politicians are still dreaming of retaining the presidency in the North after eight years of the Buhari administration, the ‘battle’ to have the number one office in the South might even be more intense, going by feelers coming out of the Southwest
In fact, a piece of the mood in the zone, gleaned through notable statesman and party chieftain, former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba indicates that sentiments will not decide where the next president comes from. There have been suggestions that since the Southeast is yet to produce a president for the country in a long while, allowing the Southeast to have an easy ride come 2023 should not elicit much contention. But that might not be the case.
Asked in an interview with The Guardian whether the Southwest has any justification to clamour for the Presidency in 2023, the elder statesman retorted: “What is wrong with that? The presidency goes to the North and returns to the South and Yoruba nation is part of the South. Why should we shy away from it? The North had it; the South had it during Obasanjo. So, what is wrong with it? It went to the North, when the late Umaru Yar’ Adua had it and it returned to the South, then President Goodluck Jonathan had it and it went back to the North to return to the South in 2023. Let us all come and slug it out.”
Pressed on the need to be a bit more considerate to the Southaast, he added: “It is not about the Yoruba. The Presidency is coming back to the South in 2023 and we are part of the Southern region of the country.”
On the assumption that the current crop of Afenifere leaders have failed to sustain or replicate the kind of legacies that the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo bequeathed to them, regarding the development and progress of Yoruba land, Osoba said, “your question makes me very uncomfortable and also terribly sad. I cannot believe that I would be alive to see the situation in which Afenifere is today looking back at what the organisation had achieved in the Southwest in those days. The major cause of the group’s predicament today is distrust, lack of confidence and lack of accommodating leadership. These are some of the factors that led Afenifere to where it is today.
“I am sad because those of us who had direct tutelage under Chief Awolowo are gradually passing on. I am sure that Chief Ayo Adebanjo in his quiet moment and on serious reflections, will admit that those of us, particularly him and me, with the few others that were very regular with Papa Awolowo can be counted on our fingers now.”
On what can be done to regain lost grounds, he expressed the belief that the Yoruba nation will survive. “We shall survive. I am already 80, but I agree that I am part of the problem. The truth is that my generation has not bequeathed the Awolowo philosophy to the younger ones. I am as guilty as the leaders because at my age, I am also an elder. But the Yoruba nation will survive because I see that the younger ones are vibrant and determined.”