High Chief Edem Duke is a former minister of tourism and contested for the office of governor of Cross River State in 2019 under the banner of the APC. He was among the top politicians present at Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, where about 180 support groups gathered to declare support for Prof Yemi Osinbajo to contest the 2023 presidential election.
His speech at the event was remarkable and thought-provoking.
TNN presents excerpts of the speech for the records
I want to appreciate the invitation of the New Tribe to this gathering and to say that I applaud the vision, the initiative and the organizational activities that the local organizing committee has put in place.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is important for me to understand the direction of the New Tribe, and to assist in integrating that narrative and that vision with the greater objective of the All Progressives Party, as well as Nigerians across political, religious, ethnic and whatever other divides.
Therefore, my understanding is that the New Tribe believes that Professor Yemi Osibanjo should be encouraged to complement, to add value, to broaden and to enrich the landscape of political aspirants that so far have declared their interest to run for the presidency.
As a party, we must understand that it will be right and privilege of all party men, once they meet the qualifications to participate and aspire to any office in the land; I want to understand that that is generally given.
We must also understand that there are so many very important, very diligent party men who so far have expressed their interest, their aspiration to run for the office of the president on the platform of the APC. All of them are eminently qualified. All of them have paid their dues in different times. Therefore, the narrative, the objective of the New Tribe is that the desire for another person to join, to enrich that collection of distinguished Nigerians who want to be president, when he has joined and has enriched, that horizon will be broader, it will provide a platform for the best of them all to be selected to fly the flag of the APC. That is my understanding.
And we must also understand the fact that each and every of these other aspirants have very passionate followers, very committed followers, very courageous followers. Therefore, in the narrative of the Ne Tribe, there must be camaraderie, there must be persuasion, because the followers of all other aspirants in the final analysis will be needed in order to deliver whoever emerges the flag bearer of the APC, which by the prayers that I hear in this hall, will be Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
What we also need to do is that when we meet with the supporters of those other aspirants who are very, very illustrious and highly aggressive, we must plead with them to sprinkle their enthusiasm and passion with adequate colouration of reality so that your persuasion becomes more superior and because the generality of the membership of the New Tribe is made up of the greater voting population of Nigeria, naturally, your aspiring candidate will emerge the flag bearer.
It is important that we do not begin to throw arrows and shoot guns in different directions and claim that no other person, born of woman, carrying the membership card of the APC is qualified except our dear brother. It is important because those building blocks must be put in place in other for the owners of the party to reach a conclusion which will ultimately be that which we desire.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, having said that, I have not sat with Professor Yemi Osibanjo, at least not in the last 20 years. Therefore, I speak with the understanding of the yearnings of the young people in this country and I know that Professor Yemi Osibanjo is a man whose academic competence pose political sophistry, pose humility, pose diligence, somebody who is passionate about Nigeria, a man who can represent Nigeria sitting with any other president in the world with little or no prompting. I know and I believe that this is the gentleman who can represent us anywhere. If they are speaking English there, he will speak a sophisticated one, if they are speaking French there, he will speak a very knowledgeable one. Put him side by side with Obama, the only thing Obama will use to beat him is his skill in the playing of basket ball, other than that, this is a gentleman who can engage any political leader across the over 50 countries in Africa and the entire world.
This is a man who is technologically savvy, he can deal with technology, he can decipher, he is also able to engage with the young people. There is no gap, therefore, it is better for him to also carry the burden of the youth. This is a man whose religious persuasion has taught him to respect the holistical beliefs of all and sundry. He can operate in the horizon, he can operate in the platoon and this I think recommends him amply for the emergence and participation in the presidential race on the platform of the APC.
And if it is the desire of the APC that he flies that flag either by consensus or by any other democratic process, the APC will be playing its smart politics because I believe that the governors in Nigeria, whether they are in APC or in PDP, they are at home with Yemi Osibanjo. He is humble enough to understand, he can read where they are going to from where they start, he does not premeditate or preconceive anything whatsoever about any other human being or any other political leader, he is that kind of man.
I have heard and I want to thank the Barrister who spoke here earlier. Yemi’s emergence in the political horizon of Nigeria was when he served as the commissioner for justice, Attorney General for Lagos State. Now he’s serving another formidable master as a Vice President. Where I come from, when an altar boy behaves well, knows his job, he can become a priest.
Therefore, we, you as a New Tribe, must also convince the big players on the terrain that they have a follower who believes in them, who can carry their aspirations, who can respect them in retirement, who can also ensure that the youths reap the full benefit of all that they aspire for in Nigeria.
Ladies and gentlemen, I didn’t come here to lecture you, it was just a precious discretion by the members of the New Tribe for me to stand here, I respect your very important and prominent members who are here. I feel it’s a privilege for you to even give me a minute to say a few words and I want to say that it is my belief that tomorrow holds a better prospect for Nigeria.
Leadership that we aspire for, by prominence and by your persuasion will become ours. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, Yemi Osibanjo as a vice president in Nigeria today is as good as any president on the African continent of Africa.
As a vice president of Nigeria, he is as good as any ruling president in any country in Africa today, and finally, we always say, where is the structure, does he have the structure, how is he going to manifest? Some people claim that they have a structure for the South-South, others say they have the structure for the North-East, some claim to have the structure for the South-West, those structures, if in democracy, are revenue points. The structure for the flag bearer of the APC is the party.