I stayed up to watch the Osinbajo interview on @Channelstv last night 04/01/2015.
The professor was brilliant, articulate and fluent. At some point, it looked like he had taken over the interview from the interviewer. By most standards, that was a good outing for the APC. The Professor Pastor succeeded in rescuing the APC from the media disaster that was GMB’s (its flag bearer and presidential candidate) outing on the same channel a few weeks back when GMB conveyed the impression of a man who was lost and out of his depths even in the shallowest of waters. GMB had projected an image of a disturbing shallowness during much of that interview. It was a sad performance, painful to watch for both audiences at home and for the interviewer. At the end of the interview, most watchers concluded that the man who had demonstrated such ineptitude on such a simple interview was not fit to lead Nigeria. Some even wondered how such a person ever made it through the ranks in the army. Osinbajo has wiped that disgrace from the face of his boss and from the face of the APC. But his success also further accentuates the perception that his principal is starkly deficient.
The Osinbajo interview holds another interest for me though. And it is that Osinbajo, without wanting to, almost ended up endorsing Jonathan’s transformation agenda in the energy sector. Take out the deliberate evasiveness, acquired no doubt, over years of legal practice. Cut through the eloquence and oratory, polished no doubt, by years of preaching and teaching, and ask yourself what Osinbajo said about power sector reform that is really new? I hope I am being fair but what I heard him saying amounts to this – “We will do the same as GEJ and team are doing but we will also privatize transmission”. What are we to make of such a plan when we know that TCN is already privatized via a management agreement. We must do well to remind ourselves at this point that privatization is a continuum that encompasses management agreement, concession and sale of assets, a fact that which Professor Osinbajo’s suggestion’s of an APC led privatization of transmission as an innovation fails to bring out. The planned innovation is already on-going! He also says that an APC administration would streamline gas supply to power the turbines and bring more IPPs on stream. How different is this from what is going on currently? Is APC’s change not PDP transformation dressed up as a synonym? To be credible change must be real and not a convenient buzz word.
On dealing with insurgency, Osinbajo nearly allowed his eloquence to dribble him into trouble when he almost suggested that the entire country was not behind the efforts to defeat BH. Almost trapped, Osinbajo beat a hasty retreat and sought refuge in a sound byte “leading from the the front” and in the platitude of preaching a “bipartisan approach”, conveniently forgetting that his principal had earlier rebuffed efforts by GEJ in this same direction. Who does not remember that GMB refused to serve on a task team set up by Jonathan to address and resolve the insurgency?
Finally, that Osinbajo cleverly avoided answering the question of near identity of persons and characters in APC and PDP (given the dominant recruitment and resourcing strategy of defection in the two parties) says a lot about him. It says something about an emergent personality trait that can only come from acquiring the third P of politician. Only a politician too can choose to gloss over severe human rights abuses in GMB’s first coming and seek to justify these by claims that the administration was hailed and welcomed by all on arrival. A pastor would have shown some remorse over the gross human rights abuses that were associated with Buhari/Idiagbon regime and apologized to Nigerians on behalf of his principal for these. But not this eloquent professor of law and pastor turned politician.
So, as we admire his impressive outing, let us welcome Osinbajo, Pastor, Professor and Politician and pray that the occupational hazards from his latest P do not drown out or crowd out the fine attributes from the first two Ps.