Four Things Prof. Yemi Osinbajo Means to Nigeria, By Nathaniel Adoji
- Hope for Nigerians (through the Social Investments Programmes): Vice President Yemi Osinbajo oversees what is regarded as the largest social investments programme in sub-Saharan Africa. The National Social Investment Programmes (N-SIP) comprises of the N-Power Programme, currently employing 500,000 graduates; the GEEP loans (Market Moni, FarmerMoni andTrader Moni), providing credit to over 3 million Nigerian traders, artisans and businessmen; the Home Grown School Feeding Programme, feeding over 9.5 million children in public schools in 31 states nationwide; and the Conditional Cash Transfer programme, putting disposable funds in the hands of over 300,000 of the poorest families in Nigeria.
The Social Investment Programmes are the most successful social investment programmes ever implemented in Nigeria. Designed, promoted and managed by Vice President Osinbajo, they have lifted millions of Nigerians out of poverty. Indeed, the N-SIPs are giving hope to millions of Nigerians nationwide and helping them to improve their lives.
It is not surprising that only a week ago, President Muhammadu Buhari commended him for the success of the programmes – like the World Bank and many more. The commendations are evidence of hard-work, transformational policies and dedication. They are deserved as well.
- Improving the Economy: As a recession seemed inevitable in 2016 – giving the absence of any savings by previous administrations, falling of the price of oil in the international market, the destruction of Nigeria’s oil assets by militants, and the monotonic nature of Nigeria’s economy – Nigeria needed a team to steer the ship out of the storm. And Prof. Osinbajo provided the lead of this team.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is the head of Nigeria’s Economic Management Team. His leadership was able to bring the country out of its worst recession to hit it in decades. Since the country’s exit from the recession, he has overseen the economy grow from negative, and headed to a double digit, even beyond the predictions of the IMF and the World Bank. The journey with his captainship has been a steady and sure rise: diversification has been successfully pursued, with increased inputs now being seen from the non-oil sectors in our GDP and revenue; the country’s foreign reserves have doubled in just four years; the minimum wage increase is set for implementation despite Nigeria’s low earnings from oil; these and more show a focused, dogged, resilient and witty economic management team – led by Professor Osinbajo.
The Niger Delta New Vision, which is the blueprint of the Buhari administration to develop the Niger Delta, is being spearheaded by the Vice President on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari. His leadership and forthrightness to ensure development was clear for all to see during his tour of the region and meetings with Niger Delta elders. Osinbajo’s leadership acumen has not only helped rebuild the trust of many who had been skeptical of the Federal Government’s New Vision, it has also contributed in no small measure to the peace and stability in the region. This has greatly helped to improve oil revenue that had suffered greatly from past restiveness, and so the country’s economy.
Also, the Vice President is chair of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), which was inaugurated in July 2016, as the administration’s flagship initiative to reform the business environment, attract investment and diversify the economy to reduce the nation’s reliance on oil. Since its setup, PEBEC has spearheaded reforms that have improved the nation’s economic environment through its Ease of Doing Business reforms. This ensured Nigeria moved up 24 places on the World bank’s Ease of Doing business index and earned the country commendation as one of the top 10 reforming economies in the world. Also, the Vice President has helped launch the administration’s Energizing Economies project which provides solar power to markets and economic clusters for small businesses and petty traders and so, drives economic growth.
- Leadership: Seen as youthful, agile, contemporary and versatile, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo stands out as the significant link between Nigeria’s young population to the President Buhari administration. And he doesn’t stop at that. He is a mentor to hundreds of young Nigerians through his platform, Act Now Group. His aides are comprised mostly of a tech-savvy generation of young upwardly mobile youths. Osinbajo gladly welcomes opportunities to mentor young people to become excellent in their respective fields and contribute their quota to nation-building. He walks the talks and is a bridge-builder, for both the young and old generations.
As Nigeria’s number two citizen he has taken positions that prove his deft appreciation of leadership: he took the role of mending the fence of feuding members of his party APC. As Acting President, he took hefty but pertinent decisions: he appointed a Chief Justice where there was a vacuum, he unflinchingly sacked a recalcitrant head of Nigeria’s security services, he signed Executive Orders to improve Nigeria’s business community. As a lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, he is a leader of thoughts who has left indelible marks of astute thoughts in Nigeria’s jurisprudential space. His prominent role as Head of Nigeria’s Economic Management Team needs no second mention.
Just recently, in demonstration of true leadership, the Vice President temporarily delayed his trip to the airport for an official assignment to engage with some Abuja residents protesting on the highway over alleged land grabbing by members of the Nigerian Army. He subsequently met with leaders of the community and also Nigerian Army to ensure the issues are resolved amicably. Osinbajo has displayed such exemplary leadership on many occasions.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo means leadership to Nigeria today – cutting across professions, ethnic groups and age demographics.
- Bringing people closer to government: From Oyo to Owerri, Maiduguri to Yenagoa, everywhere he goes, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has a way with people that instantly magnets them to his inborn charm and aura of personality. Whether in the wide corridors of power, in the narrow passages in marketplaces or wading through flooded areas around Nigeria, Professor Osinbajo is at home with both the high and mighty, as well as the low and ordinary Nigerians. Simply put, Osinbajo’s deep connection with people goes deeper than the surface. It is neither for the camera or for the klieg lights or for photo-ops, just the epitome of a man whose life and career has been built on the foundations of championing social causes well before his university days, and giving back to society through his talents, skills, and resources.
Recently, during the launch of the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme in Ekiti State, the Vice President was pictured sitting with one of the schoolgirls in her classroom while the pupils enjoyed their meal. Like a dotting father, Osinbajo leaned closer to listen to what the little girl was saying at the time. Later that day, he tweeted, “She spoke, I listened. She was the boss of me today ?.” It felt like a photo-op moment, but it was more than that. It succinctly captured a man devoid of airs, one who embodied the essence of true leadership driven by compassion and genuine concern for people’s welfare. Everywhere he goes, his connection with people is evident. Everywhere he goes, it is evident that people, Nigerians, simply love this man. Sometimes, the crowd is so overwhelming, that Osinbajo’s security and protocol struggle to contain them. True compassion cannot be masked in photo-ops. Osinbajo is the real deal. He brings a human face to governance like never seen before from one holding the Number 2 position in Africa’s most populous country.
At countless events, despite his busy itinerary and schedules, and retinue of security, Osinbajo takes out time to listen to a child, a young or old man or woman, who wouldn’t have had a whiff of opportunity to come close to him in any situation. He listens to everyone, regardless of status or social class. Whether it was that woman that was moved to pray for him in the market, or a group of three generations of a grateful family he visited during one of his family chats, or the excited mai suya who couldn’t believe his eyes that Nigeria’s Vice President actually stopped by his stall to engage him in a conversation and then purchase his wares, or those group of starry-eyed kids who surrounded him and listened with rapt attention, or those excited young men and women who just wanted to take selfies with this great man; Osinbajo’s deep connection with people shines through.
Osinbajo brings that quality of compassion into political leadership and governance, he goes to meet the people where they are, bringing government closer to ordinary people. He loves to be there, to feel the pulse of the people, with the people, so that he could help them to make their lives and situations better.