Nigeria And Nigerians Will Come Out Of Covid-19 Pandemic Stronger – Osinbajo

“We will get through this much stronger economically and much stronger as a people because of our resilience. There are a lot of challenges but they offer significant opportunities for us to turn things around.”

Those were the words of assurance from Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to Nigerians during his interaction today at the 2020 edition of ‘The Platform’ themed “Nigeria’s battle against COVID-19”.
According to him. “I am very confident that Nigerians, with our resilience, our strength and our innovation, we will go through this in great shape.”

The Platform is an annual discussion programme of the Covenant Christian Centre that features discussions around the state of the Nigerian nation and its development. The May 2020 edition featured virtual participants without a life audience as a result of the global pandemic.  

The Vice President then laid out some of the Federal Government’s efforts to address the economic fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking specifically about how the country can transform the challenges caused by the pandemic into opportunities for economic diversification and job creation, the Vice President said prioritizing use of local resources and creating local jobs in the construction and allied industry, amongst other things, will be critical in sustaining the economy in the post COVID-19 era.
He said: “We have to prioritize the use of local resources in all public works. In road construction for instance, it is cheaper to build concrete roads using limestone than spending resources on the importation of bitumen. We have limestone in abundance hence we should be looking in that direction. The road from the Apapa port to the Lagos –Ibadan expressway is being built with cement and is of high quality.
“In the housing sector where we have a huge deficit, we need to focus on using local resources to build houses and in the process we will be creating opportunities for young engineers, architects and builders etc.”
In the area of agriculture, the Vice President said government’s initial policies have saved the country from the huge forex burden of food imports and related activities.
“We think that by ramping up agriculture, especially small holder agriculture and improving the value chain, especially in storage and processing facilities, more jobs will be created for many young people.
“We have found ourselves in a situation where we realize that the way to go is to support the creation of the jobs in agriculture and reduce food imports and ultimately address the issue of unemployment and food shortages.
“What we must do as much as we can is to change the narrative about Nigeria and provide more jobs.”
Still on mitigating the fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic such as inflation, the Vice President said government would focus on improving productivity and improving food stock across the country.
According to him, “if you can ramp up food production and the logistics of bringing food to the urban centres, inflation will be controlled to a large extent.”
He added that boosting agricultural production for export purposes and supporting the mining sector will bolster the country’s foreign exchange earnings and reserves.     
Other contributors to discussions at the virtual summit include the Governors Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State; Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna State; Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State and Godwin Obaseki of Edo State. The Director-General of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, Dr. Chike Ihekweazu also spoke at the interaction which included interviews, panel discussion and speeches. The event was moderated by Pastor Poju Oyemade, the Convener of The Platform.
Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
2nd May 2020

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Protecting Lives And Livelihood During And After The Pandemic: Nigeria Has A Viable Plan, By Richard Ogundiya

Many states in Nigeria have taken drastic measures including total lockdowns and border closures in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19. Most of the country’s workforce, precisely 80 per cent fall under the informal sector and are daily earners. For Nigeria’s urban and extreme poor, social distancing is an arduous and impossible task to achieve. However, the presidency and state governments have kickstarted several rescue palliatives targeted at vulnerable citizens and businesses, whilst providing health workers at the frontline of the pandemic with the support they need.

One day we will have to reopen the economy and lift the shutdowns no matter how long. We’ll need to hold out until the outbreak shows signs of receding, or perhaps the economic suffering will prove intolerable both to those in charge and to other Nigerians irrespective of class and status. COVID-19 will disrupt several sectors and give rise to a new era of human development.

The Economic Sustainability Committee inaugurated by President Buhari and chaired by his deputy, Professor Yemi Osinbajo is working to calculate the magnitude of the shock and sharpening their tools to save the economy from collapse. This focus includes job protection, income security, food supplies, and the general welfare of the most vulnerable people among us.

The committee which is also set up to save banks, prevent fiscal ruin, and safeguard future generations is made up of Ministers of Finance, Budget and Planning; Industry, Trade and Investment; Labor and Employment; Minister of State Petroleum Resources; CBN Governor, NNPC Group Managing Director and Permanent Secretary of the cabinet secretariat as the committee secretary.

The group is working on a full Sustainability Report detailing fiscal and monetary measures that will enhance Nigeria’s oil and non-oil revenues, develop a stimulus package and other clear-cut measures to create more jobs while keeping existing ones.

They have met regularly since the beginning of April, mostly via teleconferencing in adherence to physical distancing guidelines.

On Monday, 20th of April, the Vice President and other members met with representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to share and exchange recommendations that will plunge the country’s economy to new heights between now and 2023. The World Bank Group is acting quickly to step up support as countries respond to the crisis and manage a plethora of consequences including the risk of a global recession. The Bank Group expects to deploy up to $160 billion over the next 15 months to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery. 

It is great to see Osinbajo and his team work tirelessly to secure the future of Nigerians in a Post-Covid world through decisive, collective action and innovation. The committee says it is set to deliver the report to the President in the following week, it will contain robust and wide-ranging policies, strategies and visons necessary to sustain the economy and livelihood of Nigerians. 

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Nigerians In Diaspora Critical In Driving Marional Development – Osinbajo

Nigerians in the Diaspora can contribute more to the growth of the nation’s economy and other sectors through the sharing of ideas and investment opportunities with relevant agencies of government, according to the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Speaking during a meeting on Thursday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, with a delegation from the Nigeria Diaspora Group for Good Governance led by Dr. James Fadel, Prof. Osinbajo further stated that harnessing the contributions of Nigerians in the Diaspora was a major reason why the Buhari administration established the Diaspora Commission.

According to him, the establishment of the Diaspora Commission is an important milestone for government where all the activities of Nigerians in the Diaspora could be well coordinated for national development.

The Vice President added that the Federal Government, through the Diaspora Commission, with the support of the Ministry of Youth and Sports alongside other relevant MDAs, will create platforms similar to Focus Labs, to further engage Diaspora investors and experts on very specific initiatives so as to take the ideas from the Diaspora to the next level.

The Focus Labs, organised by the Budget & National Planning Ministry, provided an avenue where investors and government agencies held detailed meetings over a few weeks to sort out issues mitigating effective investments.

According to the VP, such initiatives would help take some of the many ideas from the Diaspora community forward, noting that both the government and the people from the Diaspora have to move the ideas forward towards implementation.

He said, “I think one thing we have to do with the Diaspora Commission is to bring up these investors and the relevant agencies of government into the same room to share ideas. Some of these investors may be having difficulties in getting funds.

“What we need to do is to set up a structure to enable us meet with these investors so that we can take it step by step on how this (Diaspora) group can contribute more to the development of the country.”

Continuing, the Vice President said the Federal Government has achieved significant milestones through its Social Investment Programmes, including the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme where almost 10 million school children are being fed a free, nutritious meal daily, and the N-Power Job scheme which has engaged over 500,000 young Nigerians nationwide.

In the agriculture sector and agricultural value chain, Prof. Osinbajo highlighted the growth of local rice production, noting that the country needs to consolidate on its gains in the agriculture sector for further development.

Speaking on technical education, the VP said the N-Power programme of the federal government is embraced by every state of the federation and what is needed now is the coordination of the activities in the states.

In his remarks, the leader of the delegation, James Fadel, said, “The Vice President has captured the admiration of Nigerians at home and abroad and we have come here to support you with the best, according to our capabilities as Nigerians in the Diaspora.”

Fadel added that the Diaspora group aims to invest in areas such as infrastructure, primary healthcare, skill acquisition in various sectors, so as to contribute to improving the living standard of Nigerians.

Also at the meeting were the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare, and Dr. Sule Yakubu Bassi, who represented the Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

Bassi expressed delight that Nigerians in the Diaspora are willing to make various contributions in the areas of education, primary healthcare, etc, adding that the Commission is linking up with other groups and aims to provide vocational training for Nigerians nationwide.

Also, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare, highlighted the needs for skills training for Nigerian youths.

‘Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity

Office of the Vice President.

6th December, 2019

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Vice President Osinbajo Pride Of Nigeria – NSCIA

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has been described as the pride of Nigeria by the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) on Friday.
Prof. Osinbajo who gave a keynote address at the opening ceremony of the General Assembly of NSCIA was praised for his commitment to the country.

Ishaq Oloyede, Secretary General of NSCIA said Prof. Osinbajo has successfully combined his religious commitments with public administration, something that is worth emulating.

“He is a model of a person combining religious commitment with public administration. He has done that creditably well. Mr. Vice President we want to thank you on behalf of the Muslim community of this country. You are a pride to this nation, we thank you and pray that God will continue to be with you,” he said.

Also speaking at the event, President-General of NSCIA and Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, applauded the Vice President for his leadership, which he said was given to him by God.

“We have the privilege of having the Vice President here who is a pastor, and I am pleased that he is here to listen to the comments we will make and to listen to him giving the keynote speech, which I believe he will say a lot having known him for some time.

“He has leadership given to him by the lord God Almighty, it is a trust and responsibility and he is here in his capacity as VP and we invited him to give the keynote speech as VP of Nigeria and he accepted to be here,” the Sultan of Sokoto said.

Prof Salisu Shehu, Deputy Secretary General of NSCIA praised the Vice President for gracing the event. “I believe as you have graciously accepted to be here to honour this event by coming personally, I believe that when resolutions are presented to you, we are sure that you’d give the necessary executive support to those resolutions.”

In his keynote address, Osinbajo commended the NSCIA for bridging the religious gap in Nigeria. “This Council is of particular importance to us as a nation because it not only promotes solidarity among Nigeria’s Muslims but also serves as an important intermediary between the government and the Muslim community and between Muslims and persons of other faiths.

“As the highest decision-making body of the Council, I offer to you this morning, both a commendation and a challenge.

“First, the commendation to you for the great leadership you have shown in galvanizing the Muslim community in Nigeria despite denominational differences. But also, for making the Council available for the promotion of interfaith peace, and religious tolerance in Nigeria.

“The challenge stems from the theme of this meeting which is “Islam and National Development.” Permit me to put the topic in context so that we do not miss the essence of the topic. So, I recast the theme to read as follows quote, “The Role of Islam in the Development of a Multi-religious and Multi-ethnic Nation.” This is the gravamen of the matter and I believe my brother, Isa Pantami (Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy who delivered the keynote address) did an excellent job.

“Decades ago in this same country, it would not have been a major topic. Leaders in the first republic did not consider religious intolerance as a major national issue, they were more concerned about the issues that touched everyone regardless of religion or ethnicity; they were concerned about providing food, shelter, education and decent livelihoods. But today, no true leader can ignore the threat that religious bigotry and intolerance poses for the development of our nation. That is just the way it is.

“But it is my respectful view that the burden of ensuring that faith promotes national development as opposed to impeding it is on leaders. This is the challenge I pose to you today.

“A few months ago, at an interfaith gathering, I told the story of an occurrence on the 20th of June 2018. Christians in their village Nshar Yelwa, Plateau State were attacked by a horde of persons who were said to be Muslims, who had attacked other villages and had killed several Berom farmers who were mainly Christians.

“As Imam Abdullahi was finishing mid-day prayers, he and his congregation heard gunshots and went outside to see members of the village’s Christian community running helter-skelter. Instinctively, the Imam ushered 262 Christians into the mosque and some into his home next to the mosque.

“The Imam then went outside to confront the gunmen. He refused to allow them to enter, pleading with them to spare the Christians inside the mosque and his home. When the assailants were adamant, he told them that they would have to kill him first if they were going to kill the Christians, he had given refuge. They eventually left without killing any of the Christians in the mosque or in his home. Imam Abdullahi’s selflessness and sacrifice saved the lives of hundreds of people of a faith different from his own.

“Imam Abdullahi not only refused to give up the Christians he had given refuge; he even offered his life in exchange for theirs. His moral courage is rooted in a profound recognition of our common humanity. His compassion, empathy and selflessness are an example to us as people of faith.”

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Railway Holds Master Key To Transforming Nigeria’s Economy – Osinbajo


It is my special pleasure this afternoon to perform the official ground-breaking ceremony of the Wagon Assembly Plant here in Kajola. The plant which is a private investment undertaken by Messrs CCECC. It is an important project for so many reasons. It is central in the production of rolling stock spare parts and maintenance equipment needed for the railway modernization programme being implemented by the administration of Muhammadu Buhari.

This ceremony is not just another event, it is a historic turning point, for us, the railway is not just an alternative and comfortable mode of travel, it holds the master key to transforming commerce in Nigeria and across the continent.

By linking our ports to rail lines and now, building the rolling stock locally, import and export business within and out of Africa’s largest market will be completely transformed. When completed, it is expected that the plant would produce some parts of the wagons for the Lagos – Ibadan and Abuja – Kaduna rail lines, but also for the central rail lines and to satisfy the needs of other rail operators within the West-African sub-region.

Secondly the citing of the plant here in Nigeria and the commitment to hiring Nigerians and Nigerian businesses affirms the Presidents directives in Executive Order 5 on prioritizing Nigerians and Nigerian businesses in the innovation, production and procurement of engineering projects and services.

The plant would offer an important platform for engineers, technicians, artisans and other professionals to gain the specialized skills required for the production and maintenance of rolling stock. This will invariably conduce to spin-off businesses in the region of operation in particular and across the country wherever rail networks are in existence. The plant is expected to generate about five thousand (5,000) direct and indirect jobs.

I have a message also for you from the President and this is to CCECC which is that we expect that you move on very quickly to the next phase of this project which is the assembly and construction of coaches and locomotives.

This for us will be a significant breakthrough and we look forward to hearing from you as quickly as possible when this will come into operation.

After completing the Abuja – Kaduna Railway project in July 2016, this administration commenced construction works on the Lagos – Ibadan Railway modernization project in March 2017, following which we initiated the rehabilitation and completion of the abandoned Itakpe – Ajaokuta – Warri rail line which was started over three decades ago.

Furthermore, last month, we signed an agreement with Messrs China Railway Construction Company International to construct the Itakpe – Ajaokuta rail line which will be extended from Itakpe to Abuja through Baro Inland Water Port in Niger State with a branch line to Lokoja in Kogi State. This rail line will link into the new Warri sea port being constructed under the agreement.

Also, we are optimizing the Lagos-Ibadan rail modernization project by extending it to the Apapa Port, the nation’s busiest port for the efficient movement of cargo from the port to various destinations. This will expedite import/export flows, decongest the ports, and depressurize our roads in the process.

Also, we are putting all mechanisms in place to achieve the swift completion of the Ibadan Inland Dry port which will off-take containers and cargoes from Apapa port through the Lagos – Ibadan rail line.

Let me take this opportunity to appreciate the support shown by the leadership of the host communities here in Kajola and around this environment, for this project and other relevant Federal and State government projects. The implementation of these projects is important. It is imperative that our host communities continue to support government’s efforts by effectively cooperating with the contractors in safeguarding and protecting these lasting investments so that we can ensure that all intended objectives and mutual benefits are attained.

Let me also commend the Federal Ministry of Transportation led by the very able and dynamic Hon. Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi or Chibuike Amaechi, (today he is Rotimi since we are in the South West) for the very hard work and commitment he has demonstrated from the inception of our rail modernization project. And also, to the Chinese government, particularly the investor, CCECC Nigeria Limited for this significant and strategic investment.

The vision you have shown and the initiative you have taken in the larger development journey of this great country will reap unparalleled rewards for you and great opportunity for our people.

In a few minutes, I will have the special privilege of performing the official ground-breaking ceremony for the establishment of this Wagon Assembly Plant here in Kajola Ogun State, and I hope that this will be only be the beginning of the development of the railway infrastructure, not only here in Ogun State, but across the country.

Thank you all and God bless.

Released by:

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
9th November 2019

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Nigeria Most Logical Destination For Investors To Reap Maximum Benefits In Africa, Says Osinbajo At Nigeria-Canada Investment Summit



I am extremely pleased to be here with you at the Nigeria-Canada Investment Summit 2019. I was here at the 2018 summit and I mentioned then, that the summits are important processes, not just events in deepening the socio-economic ties between Nigeria and Canada. There is no question that both our governments and business communities realize that there is enormous potential in our relationship.

Indeed since 2018, aside from summits in both countries, the sheer number of high-level contacts and visits of so many high-level officials, really endorse the fact that this is a very important relationship.

In 2018, the Governor-General of Canada, and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Canada, Her Excellency Julie Payette visited. There was also an earlier working visit of Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s Minister for International Development and La Francophone (now Minister for Agriculture and Agri-Food) and thereafter, Canada’s Minister in Charge of Immigration, Honourable Ahmed Hussein.

As we have heard, two Royal Canadian Navy ships berth to Lagos for very important joint training in security in the Gulf of Guinea. And as we have also heard, this was the first in the 108 years of the existence of the Royal Canadian Navy.

Our trade and commerce relationship have also been long-standing, and Nigeria has remained a major trading partner to Canada in Africa. We’ve also heard that bilateral trade is in the order of $984 billion. When that is put in context, we really have a long way to go. Canada’s imports include; mineral, fuels and oils, cocoa, rubber, lead and processed foods. Canada’s exports include; vehicles, equipment, manufacturing equipment, software and aircraft. We also have in place a double taxation agreement, which came into force I believe sometime in 1999 and we expect that our Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA) will be concluded and ratified by both countries as early as possible in 2020.

We expect that in the first quarter of 2020, we ought to have that agreement in place.  This summit is particularly important, we have much richer private and public sector participation than before. The focus is on mining, power, agriculture, housing, education and technology. These are sectors that Nigeria has identified as crucial to the success of our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. And we are determined to work collaboratively with investors to create the best possible environment for business in these sectors. We are determined, not just to ensure that we keep to the plans that we put in place, but that we encourage all our partners to work with us.

In mining, our Mining Industry Growth Roadmap lays out the scale of our ambitions in this sector and it goes beyond just extraction and exportation.

We intend to create a broad spectrum of value-added services by fully maximizing the abundant opportunities for mineral resource beneficiation, exploiting the possibilities in support services and support industries that will be nurtured around core mining activities. We are, of course, all excited about the prospects evident in the Spring Fountain and Bullion Mart collaboration and we look forward to that coming to fruition.

In the power sector, we believe that investment in renewable energy is bound to benefit from our focus, especially on off-grid and mini-grid options for delivering power to our huge population and commerce. Our Energizing Education Programme, which is installing private solar power facilities in several of our universities, and the Energizing market programme also, which is private solar power in markets and economic clusters all around the country; these have demonstrated that businesses are prepared to pay for regular power supply, and that this is a tremendous area of growth for renewable energy, for business and commerce in that respect. Given the very high radiation all around the country, the solar option makes perfect sense.

In agriculture and agri-business also, there are tremendous prospects. Our government believes that the next few years are crucial for our vision of food security and especially self-sufficiency in the production of different food and cash crops. But the whole agri-business value chain is open for investment. The sheer size of our market now, and in the immediate future, the export potentials point inexorably to the importance of investment in this sector.

Housing is also a crucial area of focus for us. With a housing deficit of about 17 million, the demand is obvious. Our Family Homes Fund is a special public-private sector fund dedicated to our mass low-cost housing scheme. Solving the off-taker constraints also calls for mortgage finance solutions. There is plenty of room for activity in the housing sector.

The next few years promise to be exciting for industry, trade and commerce in Nigeria, especially with the coming into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement. Nigeria remains the most logical destination for reaping maximum benefit from these agreements. Consequently, we have devoted considerable attention to improving the Nigerian business environment and we have by all accounts, recorded notable success.

Since 2016, we have risen by an aggregate of 39 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings.  Just two weeks ago, the World Bank also rated Nigeria as one of the 10 best reforming economies in the world. We are set for business, and we look forward to continued engagement with the Canadian government and business community in the coming months and years.

Let me commend the Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada His Excellency, Ambassador Ade Asekun, and his team, and Mr. Taiwo Odutola, MD/CEO of the Nigerian Investment Summit, for the incredible hard work that they have put into this summit and previous summits and engagements here and in Canada.

We welcome all the Canadian businesses, government representatives, and all our friends, partners from Canada to Abuja, and to this summit. In particular, we welcome the distinguished delegation from the City of Brampton, and we certainly look forward to meeting with them. 

I urge all our friends from Canada to be sure to take in the sights and sounds of Abuja while you are here and, of course, indulge in some of our well-known culinary delights. My recommendation last year was Suya, this year it is our world-famous jollof rice! I would like you to take part in it.

It is now my special privilege and pleasure to declare open the Nigeria – Canada Investment Summit 2019.

Thank you very much.

Released by:

Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity

Office of the Vice President

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Much Is Achieved When Public Resources Are Used For Public Good – Osinbajo



It is a special honour to be here today, to celebrate the pioneers of the first television in Africa.  Exactly 60 years ago today, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Premier of the Western Region, then flanked by Governor General, Sir John  Rankine, Chief Anthony Enahoro, the region’s Minister of Information, and Chief T.T Solaru, first Board Chair of Western Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation, formally entered the history books by commissioning the Western Nigeria Television, the first in Africa; and ahead of China in 1962, Canada in 1967, New Zealand in 1960, and several European countries, including the Netherlands in 1960, Ireland in 1961, Greece in 1966 and Malta in 1962.

It was not just first in Africa, but first in many parts of Asia and, as you can imagine, even in Europe without even talking about Eastern Europe.

The event was historic for three reasons. Firstly, it demonstrated the capacity of the Nigerian mind to conceive and achieve anything no matter how complex or difficult. Secondly, it demonstrates how visionary leadership can inspire and lead people from the lowest levels to the high points of human imagination.    

Thirdly, it exemplifies the use of public resources for the public good. WNTV was built to inform, to educate and entertain. As Papa Awolowo himself said on that day sixty years ago, television is a powerful influence for good.

It would ordinarily have been unimaginable that somehow in a part of the yet to be independent Nigeria, a man and his team would build a television station in three months, the first as we have seen, in many parts of the world. But for the man, it was not so surprising because Papa (Awolowo) had laid out a plan for the rapid development of the Western Region. It included physical infrastructure and human capacity development.

The plan included free and compulsory education. As of the date of the inauguration of WNTV, almost a million children were in school in the Western Region. Forty-one per cent (41%) of the Western Region’s budget was spent on education, the highest proportion anywhere in the free world, the highest proportion at that time anywhere in the world.

In the free world in particular, it was obvious that those who understood the value of education used it as a powerful proponent for the advancement of their people. Papa Awolowo clearly understood that so long ago.

Today, as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of WNTV, we also celebrate what is possible in our nation and states, what vision, hardwork and a commitment to the public good can do. 

As Ambassador Yemi Faronmbi said, the celebration of the phenomenal achievement in 1959 would be wasted unless we recognize that the achievement represents sturdy shoulders for us to stand on. Today we can do more and the vision of Awolowo was to build a people capable of excelling beyond even his own achievements.

Every generation has a historic responsibility to reach for the highest peaks that human capacity can achieve. Today we are at the most advanced moment in science, technology and innovation in human history.

The smartphones you have in your hands have more computing power than all the computing power that the Apollo spaceship that took men to the moon in 1969 had. All things are possible and we are able! Let us be inspired by Papa’s words, that our only limit is our imagination.

Congratulations to the Foundation for Ibadan Television and to all of us friends, families and admirers of the pioneers.

Thank you very much and God bless you!

Released by:

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President
31st October, 2019

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Osinbajo To Young Nigerian Graduates: Integrity Is Your Most Valuable Collateral

“I have come to realize that trust or trustworthiness is fundamental to the success of practically everything you will do in life. In other words, if you can build your reputation in such a manner that you can win the trust of others, your bosses, co-workers, clients, business partners, you will be tremendously successful. If you cannot be trusted or people can’t make up their minds whether to trust you or not, you are already on the back foot and you are unlikely to succeed. Trust is the currency of successful business and social interaction. It is more valuable than money because it actually attracts money.” – Vice President Yemi Osinbajo



I am honoured to have been invited to this 6th Convocation Ceremonies of this unique citadel of learning and research, the Baze University. And I am deeply grateful to the Chair of the board of trustees, and my immediate predecessor in office, Arch. Namadi Sambo, for the honour of his personal visit to me, along with other members of the board of trustees, to invite me to this event.
The story of the phenomenal growth of this university in just about a decade is worth repeating. Beginning with 14 programmes in 3 Faculties, to 40 programmes in 6 Faculties, including Basic Medical Sciences, and a Teaching hospital, which is now in view. From structures covering a modest 3,000 square meters and now occupying 49,000 square meters, from 60 staff members to about 620 today and from 17 Students to 1,500 today, Baze University has indeed recorded remarkable progress.

While physical and numerical growth have been in leaps and bounds, so has been academic achievement, prolific research and the students of BAZE excelling in the market place and scholarships all over the world.

But BAZE’s story is also the story of the tenacity, innovativeness, and commitment to education of its founder, visioner and Pro-Chancellor, Senator Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, who in 2011, at the tender age of 41 years, established this university. His hard work and innovation continue to push this place of inquiry and learning to greater heights. I am, of course, especially partial to the University because your Vice Chancellor is a lawyer and as we all know lawyers make the best administrators! Apologies to Arch. Namadi Sambo and all other well educated but “unlearned” professionals here present!

But it is to the distinguished scholars and teachers in the faculties of the university to which the growing academic reputation of this university is owed. And we cannot take that lightly. It is to you that the awesome responsibility of mediating the thoughts and ideas of this and the coming generations belong. We must applaud your immense successes in the journey so far.

We celebrate also and perhaps most importantly, the reason why we are gathered, the graduating class of 2019. Congratulations! Your tassels are now turned to the left like those of us who graduated before you, you now belong to a tiny minority. For instance, according to the National Universities Commission (NUC), about one per cent of the Nigerian population form the total enrolment of students in the 164 universities across the country. Congratulations again.

Also, many congratulations to the parents, families, guardians, sponsors and loved ones of the graduands. This is a special day indeed and I congratulate you specially.

To the graduands, from here on you will be engaging the realities of life; the business of living by making a living. There are some timeless principles that have worked and continue to work through the years.

Permit me to share one with you, the principle of Trustworthiness or integrity. In my relatively modest experience in business, professional practice and, lately, politics, I have come to realize that trust or trustworthiness is fundamental to the success of practically everything you will do in life.

In other words, if you can build your reputation in such a manner that you can win the trust of others, your bosses, co-workers, clients, business partners, you will be tremendously successful. If you cannot be trusted or people can’t make up their minds whether to trust you or not, you are already on the back foot and you are unlikely to succeed. Trust is the currency of successful business and social interaction. It is more valuable than money because it actually attracts money.

The world’s economic systems were actually built on trust. So, giving credit or loans was built on trust. In giving a loan, most bankers will tell you that the first consideration is not your collateral, it is your integrity or trustworthiness, and this is why credit bureaus are developed, to determine the track record of repayment of any potential borrower.

I have said this story on several occasions, but I will repeat here. Many years ago, as a young student doing a post-graduate degree in the United Kingdom, I had a delay in the payment of my school fees. In those days, you had to process your school fees abroad through the Central Bank. I spoke to my counsellor in the University about the problem and she advised me to go to the bank for a loan. I thought, how does someone who has no money get a loan from a bank? But I went; explained myself to a lady across the counter, and to my pleasant surprise, I was given a 600 pounds loan. All I had to do was sign on a piece of paper that when my cheque came, it would be paid to the bank. That was in 1981. They believed my story and trusted me to pay back.

When my cheque came, I paid back. Trust. I was able to take personal loans and several other loans in the same bank. But a few years after this, it had become impossible for anyone carrying a Nigerian passport to open a bank account in a UK bank. Why? Because many young Nigerians had taken advantage of the trust and abused the trust, taking loans but not repaying. Some thought, “how foolish these oyinbo people are,” and so used credit cards to buy cars, furniture and electronics and ran back to Nigeria without honouring the trust.

In the past few years, many foreign banks have closed accounts of some Nigerians, because of the numerous attempts to defraud on those accounts. So, no matter how much you may have in your account, they just say, “we don’t want your business” because it’s just too much trouble to do business with people who cannot be trusted. So, because of the untrustworthiness of a few, a whole nation is painted black.

Developing trust also means that you must repay when you borrow. Whether it is from a friend, relation or a bank. Credit is the lifeblood of business. You are dead if your credit sources dry up. And they will if you prove that you will not respect your obligations.

In most economies, the sale of goods is by credit. Years ago, many foreign businesses offered credit to local businesses here. I remember a particular businessman who was importing and selling cars many years ago as a representative of a major car manufacturer. The cars were to be supplied to him on credit and the agreement was that he was expected to pay back in 120 days each time. He paid back a few times, then he stopped paying, he kept the money and lived large. I, a young lawyer at the time, had the onerous duty of running after him to recover some of the money. Not too long after, the credit stopped and the business collapsed.

But at around the same time, a businessman running a company called Elizade was doing the same business, buying cars on credit. He kept paying back. The foreign partners found him reliable and trustworthy and 40 years after, he is still in business, even now has an assembly plant. He is the chairman of the Nigerian subsidiary of the Japanese company that he was initially a distributor for. Trustworthiness built a business from nothing to a multi-billion Naira enterprise.

Many businesses today experience problems with dishonest staff. I was speaking to some owners of small businesses about their biggest problems, many mentioned dishonest staff.

A lady who owned a card store, where she made high-quality invitation cards one day was told by one of her customers that her cards were being sold cheaper at a store in another part of town. She discovered that two of her staff, two ladies, were stealing her inventory from the store where they were kept and had opened their own store selling the stolen cards.

Another lady who owned a cake shop complained that her staff would deliberately miscount the number of cakes that were brought in from the bakeries and then sell the excess they created and pocket the money. She said because she had to be physically present at her store all the time, she couldn’t open new branches, thus creating new jobs.

An entrepreneur who owned a small bar and left it in the hands of a manager said that he discovered that his drinks were not being sold despite the fact that several people were patronizing the bar. He later discovered that the manager and the barman were doing something funny. They brought their own drinks to the bar and sold their own instead of his own. So, when he checked his inventory his drinks were intact, but his manager and barman were selling their own drinks to his customers. He owned the bar, paid the rent, but couldn’t make money.

But there is an opportunity here because so many Nigerians and foreigners must do business here in Nigeria. The world is in search of the Nigerian of integrity, the trustworthy Nigerian to do business with or to employ. Everyone wants faithful partners or employees. Even thieves are in search of trustworthy people to keep their money with. Anyone who can show that he or she can be trusted cannot lack opportunities or profit.

There are good stories too; the story of a young Nigerian like you who turned anger to prosperity in Nasarawa State. Retson Tedheke was once a militant impatient with this country. Retson became convinced to renounce militancy in Delta State, he migrated from his native Delta to faraway Nasarawa to set up a farm.

But like most new entrepreneurs, funding was a big challenge for Retson. But a FinTech company called “Kia-Kia”, set up by young Nigerians, and another called Farmally, advanced him loans sufficient to start a small farm. From a mere initial capital base of N1.5m in 2017, Retson, last week, proudly conducted Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State and I, round what is now a vast 3,000 hectares farm worth about a billion Naira and employing 300 Nigerians.

When we visited him. I spoke to the companies that gave him the loans they all said they gave the loans because they could see he was trustworthy and had proved time and time again that he could be trusted. He built a successful farm, on credit without collateral, proving the point that integrity is the most valuable collateral.

Let me say that if you take nothing away from here, take this – your most valuable possession will be that you can be trusted by other people.

Let me again congratulate the graduating class of 2019. You have received excellent education and instruction. Your certificate reads that, “The senate has found you worthy in learning and character”. You are graduating at the most advanced moment in technology and innovation in the history of mankind; you are bound to succeed!

Remember that to whom much is given much is expected, the way up requires more than talent and degrees, hard work, innovation and integrity are crucial, but above all the grace of the Almighty GOD.

So, I pray for you that you will succeed beyond your best dreams and that the honours you receive today will be your least achievement in Jesus name. Amen.

God bless you, thank you very much.

Released by:
Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity,
Office of the Vice President
27th October, 2019.

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Osinbajo Is Not Tribalistic, Kabiru Gaya Fires Back At Junaid Mohammed

Senator Kabiru Gaya, representing Kano South Senatorial district, has described allegation of tribalism leveled against Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as mere distraction.

He called on Nigerians to ignore such claims against the Vice President.

It is recalled that a Second republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, had alleged that Osinbajo was tribalistic while acting as President in the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017.

He accused him of appointing people from a section of the country and members of his church into government positions.

However, Gaya told State House Correspondents after a private meeting with Osinbajo on Tuesday that the allegation was unfounded and did not reflect the true position of things in the office of the vice president.

“I think the vice president should disregard this issue and continue working as the vice president and for Nigeria. I believe he should not be distracted,” he said.

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Vice President Osinbajo To Participate In Nordic-African Business Summit In Oslo

In pursuit of the Buhari administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP, especially regarding the active mobilization of foreign investment, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, will be honouring a personal invitation of the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, to attend the Nordic-African Business Summit in Oslo this week.

The invitation is a long standing one and the event, holding from Monday to Wednesday, is being organized to give particular prominence to trade and investment ties between Africa and the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

The summit will attract the largest Nordic companies doing business or interested in doing business in Nigeria, with interests in agriculture, light manufacturing, transportation, digital technology and entertainment, oil and gas, and renewable energy.

Specifically, Prof. Osinbajo would, among other critical issues, be speaking on the strides made by the Buhari administration in improving the economy and human capital development.

The Vice President will also headline a specific Nigeria-focused investment roundtable, which is expected to lead to increased trade and investment into Nigeria by building confidence about business prospects in the country and its role as an economic gateway into Africa.

There will also be a high-level plenary session at the summit to be attended by Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, featuring the Nigerian VP, Deputy President of South Africa, David Mabuza, and other global business and government leaders. That plenary session would be moderated by Financial Times editor, David Pilling. 

Also, while in Oslo, the Vice President would hold a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss issues of mutual interest to both countries, including bilateral cooperation, especially trade and private sector investments, as well as regional and multilateral issues of mutual concern.

In extending its invitation to the Vice President, the Norwegian government noted that Nigeria’s participation in the summit would contribute considerably to its success, as the country “plays a crucial regional leadership role and has the largest economy in Africa.”

The Vice President, who had earlier this afternoon attended the Extraordinary Federal Executive Council meeting at the Presidential Villa, leaves Abuja later today and is expected back on Thursday.

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Why States Must Have More Powers – Osinbajo

NIGERIA can become a stronger and more prosperous nation if states have more powers, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this while speaking at the 59th Independence Anniversary Lecture at the Island Club, Lagos, on Friday.

The Vice President, who titled his lecture “the whole is only as great as the sum of its parts,” said Nigeria’s population and diverse ethnic groups has necessitated that states in the country be strengthened to enable them contribute more to national productivity and development.

Prof. Osinbajo stated that this can be achieved with “stronger, more autonomous States that are able to generate and control more of their resources.”

According to the Vice President, the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is ensuring that states collaborate more with the Federal Government on different initiatives to improve visionary governance in the country.

“The most important transformative change we can make in Nigeria is to lift the majority of our people out of deprivation by speedily creating wealth and opportunity leading to the eradication of poverty,” he said.

He further said that “The nation cannot be wealthy when its component parts – the states – are poor. The standard of living of the federation depends on the standard of living of people who live in the states. In other words, the federation can only be as rich as its richest state and as strong as its strongest state. Our national indices merely aggregate the realities of our weaknesses and strengths as present in all our constituent units. Consequently, we can only build a stronger and more prosperous nation by building stronger and more prosperous states.”

He said, “Building stronger states means ensuring the devolution of more power to the states, enabling them to control more of their resources and make more of their own administrative decisions such as the creation of Local Governments, the establishment of state and community police forces as well as state correctional facilities; creation of special courts and tribunals of equivalent jurisdiction to high courts. The point I am making is that states must have more powers and more rights.”

The Vice President stated that, “The challenges confronting us now are about strengthening internal coherence and cohesion. It is about moving from affirmations of unity to the achievement of synergy in which the sum of our strengths exceeds the totality of our constituent parts.”

He noted that, “Opportunities for smart and visionary governance abound. So, for example, while states may not be able to right now establish their police forces, they can collaborate with the federal government on initiatives such as community policing which also revolves around the idea of localized law enforcement. Our administration is currently pursuing this option. When we set our minds to solving problems, we will find that what is truly possible is not as distant from the ideal that we seek.”

The Vice President further noted that Nigerians, despite differences, must draw inspiration from its history of a common shared belief, in order to attain the quest for collective progress and continued unity.

He said, “In order to do so, we must draw inspiration from the deep wells of our history. The founding fathers of our republic – Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello. These three differed on many things but shared a clear belief in the Nigeria’s boundless capacity as a united country. Regardless of their keen rivalry, they agreed on the crucial necessity of Nigeria staying united despite the many centrifugal pressures that buffeted the young nation. On this matter of unity, their differences were those of degree rather than category.

“Each of them occupied different niches on the spectrum of national integration but they all shared the view that the ideal situation was one in which a united and prosperous Nigeria took its rightful place in the world as the most populous black nation on Earth and as the foremost black power.

“From the foregoing, it is clear that the founding fathers were of one mind as far as Nigeria’s world historic significance was concerned. They also recognized that her ability to fulfil her destiny was dependent on her continued unity.”

The Vice President added that, “The point of this excursion into history is to show that strong sub nationals led by visionary leadership is what it takes to develop the Nation. What we require today is stronger, more autonomous States able to generate and control more of their resources and visionary leadership.”

Speaking during a Q&A session, Prof. Osinbajo added that the Buhari administration will continue its fight against corruption.

“Two governors have been convicted for corruption, and they are in jail today. It took almost 10 years because our legal system is extremely slow, but we achieved it,” he said.

“The other thing I think we have to take note of is the fact that corruption fights back, and we also as citizens have to much more up and doing, because corruption fights back. They throw mud at everybody, give the impression that, “everybody is corrupt.”

“If we don’t control corruption, it’s the worst possible cancer that any nation can have, and as we can see from anything else, it just destroys a country by installments.”

Prof. Osinbajo stated that he will continue to give his best in service to the country under the Buhari administration.

“I intend to do everything that is necessary, everything that I can to ensure that we achieve the promises that we made and to ensure that we achieve the kind of country that we want to achieve. And I will do that every day, every minute, for as long and God gives me life and opportunity,” he said.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President
05th October, 2019

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Osinbajo Not Corrupt, Opposition Behind Fake News – Sagay

Professor Itse Sagay SAN, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), on Tuesday described Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as “an incorruptible man of God who is as clean as a whistle”.

Speaking in a chat with INDEPENDENT on the corruption allegations levelled against Osinbajo, Sagay said his Committee did not receive any report indicting Osinbajo in any way.

He accused the opposition of being the brain behind the malicious rumour, adding that having failed at the courts, they were desperately trying to cause disaffection in the Presidency.

“Our Committee received no report indicting the Vice President in any way. Absolutely nothing! The Vice President is an incorruptible man of God, a man of high moral standing who is as clean as a whistle. He will not appropriate any money that doesn’t belong to him to himself.

“The Vice President is not having any issue with President Buhari. All these malicious reports and fake news are being sponsored by the opposition and enemies of the government and it should be disregarded,” he said.

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