Sometime in 2014, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo launched an aptly entitled book, ’They Call Me Mama.’ The book, which told the story of Mrs. Osinbajo’s decade of working with street boys in Lagos, gave the public an insight into the persistence, forthrightness and benevolence of the woman that would later become Nigeria’s ‘Second Lady.’
Like many of her subsequent public engagements, the book was a product of Mrs. Osinbajo’s deliberate connection to disadvantaged Nigerians. However, when the book was written, the young boys and men that called Mrs. Osinbajo “Mama”, had no idea that she would be called upon in a greater capacity to be an even greater ‘Mama’ to millions more.
Quiet and unassuming, not many outside Lagos knew who Dolapo Osinbajo was until she emerged as Nigeria’s Second Lady — following the emergence of her husband, Professor Yemi Osinbajo as the Vice President in 2015. Since then, Mrs. Osinbajo, who radiates candour and unbridled self-discipline, has carried herself with so much poise and brilliance — leading many to believe that the spirit and the teachings of her late grandfather, the sage and leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, still resonates in her.
An epitome of decency, Mrs. Osinbajo has inspired countless Nigerian youth to ask how a woman of power and influence, can exude so much warmth and humility in every engagement with the public. Her charm consistently demystifies the whole razzmatazz around the power that her husband’s office commands — a key trait that has endeared her to everyday Nigerians.
Indeed, Mrs. Osinbajo portrays and embellishes the rich Yoruba culture, especially those bordering on good manners and decency. She’s no doubt one individual who embodies the age-long saying that ‘character is everything’. This is why, by observing Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo at her public engagements and on her social media handles, you begin to appreciate a leader that understands the transient nature of everything — especially something as ephemeral as political power.
Anytime one sees Mrs. Oludolapo Osinbajo, what comes to mind is the Biblical saying that: ”When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.” I have been a witness to the excitement that pervades the air anytime the Vice President’s wife steps out to attend public functions. Undoubtedly, people find it easy to give all due regard to a woman who, despite the allure of power, has continued to live her life with so much simplicity. This is because she regards everyone with so much respect and treats no one with contempt.
It is often said that when you see a bird dancing alone on the bush path — it’s drummers are somewhere in the bush. So when we in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) hailed the ingenious and dexterous manner with which Professor Yemi Osinbajo carried out his public assignments before becoming the Vice President, we no doubt ignore to praise the woman who contributed to his success. After all, it is often said that beside every powerful man is a woman of strong will and inestimable character to keep him grounded at all times.
When the history of this era is written or told in stories, it is clear that Mrs. Osinbajo, the wife of the erudite ‘Star Boy’ Professor, will be remembered fondly. This is because as the partner of a frontline political office holder, she has shown Nigerians — especially future generations of political spouses — that respect, decency and humility can exist alongside power. She has demonstrated by her consistent actions that it is ‘God who gives power’, consequently, when you are blessed and fortunate to find yourself in a position of authority, it is necessary to always endeavour to approach everyone with the mindset that influence is a transient occurrence — that must always be treated as such.
We thank Mrs. Osinbajo for the lessons learned by observing the content of her character, and for showing the next generation that people’s actions are everything, in a world that is governed by too many words.
Alwan Hassan is a public policy professional and social commentator who serves as the CEO of Greycube Dynamics and Alsad Integrated Resources. Alwan is a politician and works in developing and sustaining strategic partnerships between governments and internal and external non-governmental organisations.