Battle Osinbajo couldn’t win

In a period of two months he must have visited Victoria Garden City (VGC) more than 15 times. Town hall meeting here, parlour meeting there and street walk there. He met with professionals and engaged resident associations just as he dialogued with people of faith. At the end of the elections they will still not let him deliver his unit.

I have received many calls and text messages asking what happened? It is not far-fetched. It is a combination of ethnicity, elite mentality and living in the midst of people who the policies of the administration do not favour.

As we held those meetings, I saw it coming and remarked to colleagues that coming to VGC and appealing to the voters there may be a waste of time. I could see it in their utterances, in their body language. The bile was palpable and in some cases you could perceive hostility. Osinbajo, as we have known, is a never say die person. He dug at it with the severity of a tunnel digger, believing there will be light at the end.

At the last meeting he had, which was on the Wednesday before the initial February 19 election day, I slipped away and went to have a rest in the hotel so as to be strong for the following day task.

Only an Osinbajo will depart Uyo for Lagos at 9.00 pm after a hard day campaign in Plateau and Akwa Ibom states and take an arduous ride through the Lekki traffic to VGC from the airport sometimes for one and half hours and still go and address a motley crowd of 30 residents.

Those engagements were for me a spectacle. I am easily irritated. Many of his aides were disgusted like me. Not Osinbajo who will take his time fielding all manners of questions and sometimes subtle and not so subtle insults.

There were cases of some fellows who had nothing to say than “Osinbajo you have come now and you didn’t bring kola how do you want us to vote for you again”, Kola in the local parlance meaning money or bribe. And this is a supposed elite location. Some said since he was elected, they expected him to have donated a mini-stadium in VGC. Some wanted him to have solved there problem of flooding. A fellow said he and Buhari stand blamed for the loss of his would have been first child who died when his pregnant wife walked into an electrified floodwater in his house.

One expressed disgust at his men parking in front of his gate. Another accused him of lying that the Second Niger Bridge project has taken off. Every effort to convince him was ignored and he kept interjecting until Osinbajo moved on to other topics.

He took all of this with calmness and gave time, hours at a time, explaining government policies: why the administration is fighting corruption and why Nigeria must not depend on imports from other nations, as well as the infrastructural projects going on across Nigeria.

All of this was like pouring water on the back of a calabash. To be honest, there were a handful who were civil and patriotic. Some others were sympathetic and could reason with the logic of his presentation and the sincerity of his purpose.

I could hear the voices of some who shared his dream of a greater Nigeria. A Nigeria where the leaders pursued the good of the majority as opposed to the minority. Some suggested great ideas and offered criticisms that could help sharpen policy. Some offered to join the Osinbajo train.

Some too were taken in by his humility and understanding of the problem. A particular person right there and then sought to have an account number to which he could pay a donation and a few others must have too. Some were generous offering us snacks and drinks.

Most were however new money, importers of all manners of things, beneficiaries of the abuse the Buhari administration was dedicated to stamping out. Some others were driven mainly by ethnic hatred.

This, however, is understandable. Even in America many still make their political choices based on colour of the skin. The majority of the British who voted for Brexit did so because of aversion for the Eastern Europeans who come to their country to seek a better life not minding the harm such a decision will do to the economy of their country. Good or bad every voter has the right to the choice he makes. No one can deprive him or her of that. That is the essence of democracy.

It was easy therefore to see that this was a battle this ajantala will not win. I knew they were not going to vote for him.

Yes, Osinbajo lost the vote in his neighbourhood of VGC. VGC is not his constituency. Certainly not. He could easily have gone to vote in Ikenne, his ancestral home where he is deeply loved and revered. He could have queued to vote in the Somolu area of Lagos where he was born and raised and where his aged mother lived and adored by neighbours. He could still have chosen to cast his vote in Akoka , on the premises of University of Lagos where he taught and thought  for many years and his unit could have embraced him and give him a landslide victory but Osinbajo is one who never runs away from a problem. He will dig his teeth in it until he is able to bite through.

Knowing him, he will not quit VGC until he is able to make the new money residents see reason. Left to me he ought to move his base to that glorious abode of late Obafemi Awolowo, a place of history, a community that is synonymous with progressive politics and intellectual pursuit.

By the way I am told that the small town has produced up to 13 Senior Advocates of Nigeria, more than most states of Nigeria has produced.

After all, one of the first SANs was our leader Pa Obafemi Awolowo who must have been smiling down on his grandson-in-law as he displayed the brilliance and tenacity only an Awoist can pull off. Only this time, he lost the battle and won the war! Congratulations Mr Vice President.

Senator Ojudu is Special Adviser, Political Matters to Mr President.

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