Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Receives New UK Secretary Of State

Nigeria can benefit from the United Kingdom in its ongoing reform of the business environment by learning from how the British resolved similar challenges, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

The Vice President spoke today, during a meeting with the newly appointed United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for International Development, Mr Alok Sharma, at the Presidential Villa.

According to Prof Osinbajo, “one of the critical issues with the ease of doing business is with respect to the registration of property and how the process is long drawn.”  

The Vice President noted that while States like Lagos and Kano have done well with issues around land registration, there are still some outstanding issues. He said this is an area where the UK and Nigeria can collaborate.

“I think one of the ways by which we could get some help is in the whole land registry concept”, the Vice President noted.  He recalled that Lagos State actually had such collaboration when he was serving there. According to him, the UK “gave us quite a bit of help in establishing what was used in Lagos State land registry years ago.”

“Every state has its own peculiar issues and challenges. How to document across the various states is what poses the challenge,” Osinbajo observed.

Prof Osinbajo also explained the National Livestock Transformation Plan, NLTP, stating that the Federal Government and States decided on ranching as an option for livestock breeding.

States determine the implementation methods in their respective States, while both the Federal Government and the States will share the costs.

Earlier in his remarks, Mr. Sharma commended the Vice President for his role in driving the Ease of Doing Business reforms and commended the country for moving up 24 places in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Ranking.  On the specific issue of land registry, he noted how the process was simplified in the UK using technology.

Both the Vice President and the UK Secretary, among other issues, also discussed the rehabilitation of the Northeast region and how the British could support the process going forward.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President

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Nation-Building Comes With Innovation And Patience Says Vice President Osinbajo

“I was at an event in Lagos where some old boys of Kings College, a Federal Government college were gathered. So, there was in their midst, Adebayo Ogunlesi, Christian Yoruba gentleman, who founded one of the most successful private capital firms in the world, there was Keem Bello-Osagie, Muslim from Edo State, once a major investor in UBA and Etisalat, Emir of Kano and former CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido; they were all classmates and they have continued to work together promoting each other over the years.”

“The classification of Nigerians as “indigenes” and “non-indigenes”, is our own form of divisionism and has long contradicted our declared aspirations towards unity in diversity. All that should matter in evaluating ourselves, is where we live and fulfill our civic obligations. This is why our Social Investment Programmes are being administered on the basis of residency. The eligible beneficiaries were selected based on their states of residence and none was discriminated against on any basis.” – Osinbajo


SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, ON THE OCCASION OF THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF THE LAGOS COUNTRY CLUB, ON THE 30THOF JULY, 2019.

Protocols.

It gives me great pleasure to join you all in celebrating what is a truly remarkable milestone for the Lagos Country Club. It is no exaggeration to say that this is one of the most reputed voluntary associations and recreational institutions in Lagos and indeed, Nigeria, going on seven decades and still going strong. Congratulations!

I am also glad to note that the Club continues to advance the noble goals for which it was founded in 1949, notably to promote family values, use sports and other recreational activities to deepen social solidarity and promoting inter-ethnic and inter-racial understanding among people.

I shall be speaking for a few minutes on the topic, “Promoting National Cohesion as a means of Promoting Progress and Prosperity.” It just so happens that this is a subject that is in consonance with the foundational ethos of the Club. Indeed, the Club’s membership which is multicultural, ecumenical and composed of people from diverse backgrounds, is a testament to your commitment to fostering understanding across ethnic, racial and other lines of identity. 

The spectacle of so many people of diverse creeds and ethnicities, united by a common purpose and vision, is perhaps the most profound hallmark of the Lagos Country Club. In this sense, the Club is achieving in an understated, but not insignificant scale, the sort of cohesion and civic mutuality that we all aspire to as a nation.

I think that we can also all agree that the subject of my remarks is apt for the times in which we live. We are, as a people, facing challenges that are testing the bonds of our fraternity, unity and our shared humanity.

In parts of the country, we have seen sectarian clashes and insurgency, and immediately after the elections, a rise in kidnappings in different parts of the country. But perhaps the worst threat is from those who would use these challenges to sow discord and division in the nation, by exploiting harrowing tragedies, fanning them into the flames of conflict, manipulating even genuine differences of perspective, opinion and sundry national challenges, as opportunities to promote prejudice, bigotry and strife. That is in my view, the greatest threat of all.

Nigeria is a complex country, composed of over 180 million people of 250 ethnic groups, who speak about 400 different languages and dialects. She belongs to the league of nations, composed of a multiplicity of ethnicities and creeds. It has become commonplace for people to define Nigeria’s diversity as a uniquely problematic attribute that condemns us to perennial volatility and internecine strife on a regular basis. However, we must reject these notions as unfounded. Nigeria is not in any way exceptional or unusual simply because she is diverse.

Mobilizing the people of a country as complex and heterogeneous as ours, under the banner of a common purpose was never going to be an easy task, but this is not to say that it is impossible.  Multi-religious and multi-ethnic countries all over the world, grapple daily with tensions that come with diversity.

The United States of America, for example, has a long history of difficult race relations and minority discontent and that is on an on-going basis. Although the motto of the country is, “E Pluribus Unum” which means “Out of many, one”, and is meant to convey the idea of unity in diversity, there are minority communities who see themselves as marginalized and excluded from the mainstream of society. 

European nations are confronting the rise of rightwing populism and nationalism and the revival of identities long thought to have been buried under the supranational banner of the European Union and its multicultural aspirations of all of those nations. Immigration is complicating the demographic reality of these nations, unleashing greater diversity, which in turn, carries a greater potential for tension and friction between the different groups.

Today, we hear, almost daily, of the steps that are being taken to restrict immigration in many of these countries and in many of those cases, it promotes tension in those societies.

The rise of xenophobia, nationalism and other forms of chauvinism on the global scene, indicates that the challenge of managing diversity is not just a Nigerian or an African problem. Racial, ethnic and sectarian tensions, are common to diverse societies everywhere. Just as heterogeneity does not condemn a society to perpetual conflict, neither does homogeneity in itself, insure a society against strife. The mere fact that we all speak the same language or belong to the same tribe doesn’t mean that there won’t be strife. In the same way, the mere fact that we all speak different languages or belong to different tribes and religion doesn’t mean there must be strife.

Somalia is probably the best answer to the suggestion that all our national challenges will be resolved by our disintegration into small ethnically and culturally homogenous enclaves. Somalia is composed of just one ethnic group, the Somali, who speak the same language and almost all of them practice the same religion. None of these attributes has prevented her from being mired in conflict for four decades.

A few years ago, many commentators were advocating for the splitting up of Sudan as a solution to its long history of conflict.  They called for the disintegration of the country in the belief that such a measure would bring peace to both North and South Sudan who, relieved of the burden of coexistence, would be free to thrive separately. This has not been the case. Instead, South Sudan has been plagued by various conflicts, while its Northern neighbour is reeling from severe political unrest. If the odyssey of South Sudan teaches us anything, it is that by simply separating from people we do not like or people we believe to be fundamentally different from us, is not a solution to the onerous challenge of nation-building in the context of heterogeneous societies. The challenge of nation-building comes with being innovative, patient and being ready to see the greater good.

Everything we have learned from the annals of history and from contemporary reports from all over the world, tells us that social diversity can either be a trigger for conflict or a fountain of prosperity and progress. Diversity in and of itself is not a problem, it is what we do with it that matters. Whether or not socio-cultural variety results in strife or collective success entirely depends on how a society chooses to manage it.

Diversity has the potential to ignite conflict because when elements from dissimilar origins, principles and orientations, meet a measure of tension and abrasion, is inevitable. This dynamic applies regardless of whether the context under consideration is between races, ethnicities, creeds, clans or nation-states.

Prejudice and bias are part of the human condition and are understandable initial psychological responses to any form of plurality. It is very rare to find any cultural or parochial group of any kind that does not have some prejudice against another cultural group. There is nothing innately wrong in people feeling that their cultural group is superior to others. Indeed, many people feel that their cultural group is superior to others; if you ask the Yorubas, they’d tell you that they are the leading cultural group in the whole of Nigeria, if you ask the Igbos, they would say, “there is nothing like us, we are the best”. Ask the Fulanis or Hausas, they would say, “we are pre-eminent”. It is not unusual for cultural groups to believe that they are superior. It would be a lie for anyone to say that they do not have some prejudice somewhere in favour of their own tribe.

But leadership is crucial in determining whether diversity will mean conflict or phenomenal progress. By leadership, I mean the elite as made up of the political, business, religious, civic and social leaders of society. They determine the direction in which their communities go.

Depending on the narratives that the elites chose to propagate, they could either stoke the embers of fear and doubt, or smoothen the rough edges of diversity and pave way for integration.  The diverse elements then become building blocks with which to construct a superior collective that produces greater outcomes than the sum of its parts. 

When we invoke Nigeria’s peerless potential, as we frequently do, it is the outsized results of such synergy that we are referring to. 

So how can diversity and national cohesion lead to prosperity?

It is no accident that the most affluent economies in the world are places that have learned to leverage diversity. In the 21st century, the true wealth of nations is human capital, talent. This means that places that have learned to attract and retain the most diverse pool of skilled human resources are easily winning the race for success.

Diversity means a multiplicity of perspectives and worldviews, but this also provides a broad range of cultural, philosophical and intellectual approaches for solving problems. In this rich soil, nourished by various ideas and schools of thought, productive synthesis is possible and innovation flourishes. Thus, the world’s richest nations today, are those places that have learned how to attract talent from various places and how to harness their diversity as a driver of growth.

One of the more obvious examples of this principle is the United States of America, a nation established by immigrants and that has continued to be renewed by generations of migrants from all around the world. Indeed, the American Dream is widely described as the idea that anyone may come from anywhere in the world, seek fortune in America, and succeed through hard work and determination. America’s global economic preeminence is due in large part, to its longstanding creative management of diversity, but of course, it is not always a success, but it is the best example we can find. It is not a coincidence that global brands like Google, Intel, Yahoo, Mattel and other firms, were either established or co-founded by immigrants or their descendants.

Many Western nations implement immigration policies that actively attract the best talents from all over the world, to bolster their economies.  Today, Canada has opened up its doors, it says it wants talent from everywhere and is attracting talent from Nigeria. Canada has you know, has huge land size but very few people. By simply opening up its doors as one of the most advanced economies in the world, it is attracting people from everywhere but it is insisting that it would bring in only persons of proven talent, highly skilled and knowledgeable to make their country better.

When nations have succumbed to shortsighted and narrow-minded policies that victimize minorities, they have learned how not to effectively utilize human resources and they often suffer from all forms of prejudice. Any country that oppresses minorities, promotes practices that further separatism, that country invariably regresses rather than progresses.

 For example, when the Ugandan tyrant, Idi Amin expelled East African Indians from Uganda, most of them fled to the United Kingdom and they had a positive impact on the British economy.  As for Uganda, its expulsion of the Indians who were the most skilled and economically productive segment of the population compounded the decline of Uganda’s floundering economy.

Similarly, it can be said that America’s ascendancy as a global power in the 20th century gained momentum as it began to accept Jews fleeing anti-Semitic persecution in Europe. Those European societies were run by fascist regimes that violently opposed heterogeneity and sought to implement a racist vision of national purity and homogeneity based on white supremacy. Those fleeing Jews had been part of the intelligentsia in Europe and brought their considerable skills, knowledge and intellect to the nation that had welcomed them and given them refuge. Some of them were instrumental in America’s development of nuclear capabilities and therefore, an important part of how and why the US achieved the status of a super power. The acceptance of plurality by the American society is largely responsible even for its military prowess.

The same principle of diversity and national cohesion must drive economic growth and this applies even in Nigeria. Our most dynamic economic spaces have been historically multicultural cities like Lagos and Kano.

Lagos as a port city, obviously benefitted from its coastal location as a gateway to the African continent for traders and adventurers from beyond the seas, as well as from the hinterland. Kano was a major terminal on the trans-Saharan trade route, drawing commercial traffic from as far north as the Maghreb and the Middle East and from Southern Nigeria.

From the foregoing, it is clear that when we create spaces for migratory talent to flourish without discrimination, there is an economic multiplier effect that results in an ever-increasing radius of growth. 

But perhaps there is also a little more to the prosperity of Lagos. In contemporary times, the conscious decision of Bola Tinubu, then Governor of Lagos to appoint his commissioners from everywhere in Nigeria, is partly responsible for the peerless progress of Lagos State from 1999.

He appointed Mr. Wale Edun from Ogun State as Finance Commissioner, Rauf Aregbesola from Osun as Commissioner for Works, Fola Arthur Worrey from Delta as Commissioner for Lands, Ben Akabueze from Anambra as Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Lai Mohammed from Kwara State as Chief of Staff and I, from Ogun State as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice. In that period, he was opposed by Lagos indigenes, who felt that by virtue of “indigeneship”, they were qualified to be commissioners. They would argue and the argument is always valid, that why should anybody come from “their own State” to come and be commissioners “in our own State.”

Lagos undertook fiscal, real property, judicial and environmental reforms that have made the State a model for the rest of the country today. Today, Lagos State Internally Generated Revenue is greater than the combination of 31 States’ IGR put together. How did that happen? A fiscal reform took place. Tinubu took the best minds that he could find to do the job.

Nigeria is the same nation that produced Africa’s first Nobel Laureate in Literature, Wole Soyinka, Yoruba, of no known religion and Jelani Aliyu, Fulani, Muslim, a world-class designer of motor vehicles. Nigeria is the nation it is because of the collective strength of its many talents, attributes and the various contours of this great country.

How then can we transform diversity into cohesion? I think if properly harnessed, diversity is a powerful driver of economic growth and is therefore desirable. However, as I said earlier, whether diversity leads to conflict or engenders prosperity depends on the extent to which our institutions, promote cohesion and the key to promoting cohesion is inclusion.

In other words, people pull together and work together when they believe that they are part of the same group, when they share a common vision, goal and when they aggregate around a common objective. We witness how Nigerians come together as one when our National Team is playing. Our vision is clear, our objective is certain at those moments, we want our nation to win.

In an earlier generation, institutions such as the National Youth Service Corps and Federal Government Colleges, and later, Unity Schools, were established to foster national cohesion. The essential idea was to take young Nigerians drawn from diverse backgrounds and place them in the same academic and social context located in places far from home.

The goal was to expose young Nigerians to different communities and people, acquaint them with their country’s cultural, geographical and social diversity and in so doing, demystify the sense that the “others”, are different from us and so we shouldn’t associate with them. Such shared experiences are deeply educational because they make it possible for citizens of a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society to humanize each other.

In the years since these institutions were created, more Nigerians have been exposed to people and cultures different from theirs. I was at an event in Lagos where some old boys of Kings College, a Federal Government college were gathered. So, there was in their midst, Adebayo Ogunlesi, Christian Yoruba gentleman, who founded one of the most successful private capital firms in the world, there was Keem Bello-Osagie, Muslim from Edo State, once a major investor in UBA and Etisalat, Emir of Kano and former CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido; they were all classmates and they have continued to work together promoting each other over the years. It was a deliberate step taken in establishing Federal Government Colleges ensuring that these young men were able to spend time together, learn together and know that there was no real difference between them and so they have stayed united.

Even working in diversity, take deliberateness and dedication in creating the kind of unity and convergence we want to see.

The challenge for us is to continue to defuse the potential perils of diversity by continuing to pursue measures that promote social inclusion and national cohesion.  One of the most important ramparts of national cohesion are the guarantees of fundamental freedoms. The right to life, which comes with it the duty of governments to ensure peace and security, freedom of movement, freedom of worship, and the rule of law. Everyone must be reasonably assured that their lives and livelihoods will be protected by the government, that their disputes will be fairly and justly resolved, regardless of their ethnicity or faith.

This is the main challenge of every diverse society, the assurance of the protection of basic rights and freedoms. Our challenges as a nation basically centre around these issues; religious conflicts, farmer/ herder clashes in the Northcentral and many parts of the Northwest, Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast, and militancy in the Niger Delta.

When law enforcement institutions are weak, there is a huge opportunity to run divisive narratives. By that, I mean that where, for example, the security agencies do not speedily apprehend criminals, or where the criminal justice system is slow, then there is room for people to say, “they don’t arrest and prosecute Fulani herders when they kill”. It is convenient to forget that there are other people who have committed offences and have not been arrested.

Also, because the law enforcement officers are often not resident in the communities where they are posted for policing duties, it is easier to promote doubt about their commitment to ensuring the safety of the communities they police. This is why policing has to be a communal function, and police officers are required to understand their terrain.

Where the quality and integrity of judges is in doubt, it is easier to find parochial reasons for unfavourable decisions. When you don’t trust or think that the judge is competent, if you get a wrong decision, you will find all sorts of reasons why the decision is wrong. People will say the judge was bribed, it is because the judge is Christian and I am Muslim; there will be reasons for the judge’s incompetence.


The answer to these issues is simple. In diverse societies, we must do all that is necessary to strengthen the institutions of law enforcement, security, the administration of justice and the rule of law. The challenge is dynamic and our approach must also be dynamic. Which is why I believe that State Police in a large and diverse federation is imperative. However, this requires a constitutional amendment, a product of consensus of our legislators.

In the interim, the Federal Government has approved community policing as an option. The IGP recently announced the plan. An important component is that the new approach to police recruitments would be that policemen will be recruited in each local government and after training, will be required to remain in their local governments. 

The plan also involves interfaces between traditional rulers, State Neighbourhood watches or vigilante programmes and the police. The security architecture needs to be as domestic as possible, where it favours the use of local persons, local institutions, it is bound to be more effective.  The security architecture is now being re-engineered for greater use of technology and more integration of the use of security platforms. A few days ago, the rescue of some persons kidnapped in Ore Benin road and the arrest of the kidnappers was successfully executed because tracking technology and police helicopter were quickly deployed.

Governors of the Southwest States have also committed to purchasing electronic surveillance and tracking systems and patrol vehicles for the use of law enforcement agencies. The coming together of State Governors in the different zones to police the inter-state roads is an important part of keeping security. The various challenges we have can only lead to a situation of rebuilding and strengthening a better security architecture by taking advantage of this current situation. All those involved in the security framework of the country are sensitive to the various issues that are called for.

We must strengthen our judicial system, first by the appointment of judges of integrity and sound legal knowledge. In 1999, when I was appointed Commissioner of Justice in Lagos, we conducted a survey of lawyers who practiced in the Lagos High Court, we took a sample of 200 lawyers and asked them their perception of judges in Lagos State. The options were, “Just and Fair, Corrupt, Notoriously Corrupt”. 89% of the respondents said judges were notoriously corrupt. So, we also asked them what they had done about these judges and no one said anything. Since 1967 when the State was established till 1999, not one Magistrate has been sacked for corruption, not a single judge has been dismissed from office.

We set out to change the system, we decided we would appoint judges differently, it wouldn’t be on a man-know-man basis, we would headhunt and they would go through a series of test and scrutiny from the Nigerian Bar Association. We were conscious of the pedigree and integrity of these judges and we took them through the whole process. We appointed 26 judges in 2001. We took care of their welfare and salaries and improved their salaries considerably. We ensured that judges would have accommodation provided by the State Government. This made a dramatic difference in the quality of judges.

In 2007, a similar survey was conducted by the World Bank regarding high court judges, and the results were that 0% felt that judges were corrupt. It is not to say that people had become saints overnight; first, it was because they were better paid, secondly, in that period, 3 judges had been dismissed, 21 magistrates had been dismissed. People recognized there would be consequences for their actions. It is possible for us to build stronger institutions by a deliberate process of strengthening them and giving people greater confidence in the system and in the protection of their rights before the law.

But beyond maintaining security and law enforcement, we must also clearly, understand the nature of the problems we face.


We must not allow false or skewed narratives, no matter how plausible they may sound. As I had occasion to say (2019 Nigerian Army Day Celebrations on the of 6th July, 2019) elsewhere on the insurgency in the Northeast, and I quote, “since Boko Haram, we have seen other threats emerging. Islamic State West Africa, ISWAP and others in the Lake Chad Islands and parts of Southern Borno.  Radical Islamist Terrorism is an evil that must be seen as the common enemy of all faiths, including Islam. 

As the President said and I paraphrase, anyone who says Allahu Akbar and goes on to kill is either insane or dangerously ignorant of the tenets of Islam.  The likes of Boko Haram, ISIS, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and many Salafist-Jihadist ideologies are expansionist ideologies that feed purely on hate; hatred of any person or group that does not belong to their particular sect. They have no redressible grievances, so there are no terms of reference for peace. These are fanatics committed to a twisted creed. They exploit the ignorance of the tenets of Islam, poverty and exclusion, recruit men and women and use children to perpetrate the most heinous atrocities.  They are motivated by a satanic desire to control communities by murder and terror.

Whether it is in Iraq, Borno or Syria, their victims are men, women and children, Muslim or Christians, so long as they do not share their sick ideology. They target churches, mosques markets and motor parks where people gather, using children as human bombs to kill randomly, regardless of tribe or faith. I have seen the charred bodies of the dead, men women children killed by suicide bombers, in Gombe, Borno, Kano. The bombs are the ultimate agnostic destroyers. No discrimination in death.  The challenge for us is to recognize this extremism for what it is; to form alliances across faiths and ethnicities, to destroy an evil that confronts us all.” It is not an evil that confronts one religion.  


This is the reason why in Borno, in the centers of Islam in various places where you find death and destruction, it would then be a false narrative if someone says this is an attack only on Christians. We must understand the nature of the problem.


As Nigerians, we have grown up familiar with the constant habit of some in scholarly, political and journalistic circles making it seem that our diversity by itself is a problem. But it is worth asking whether we are really as diverse as some insist that we are.

There is no denying that we have differences, but the question, are these differences so fundamental as to utterly negate the possibility of cohesion? My answer is no and indeed we must recognize the extent of our shared values. We all esteem the extended family and its corollary notions of welfare and social obligation above unbridled individualism. We share a sociocultural emphasis on solidarity, kinship and community values, which promote the collective interest. All over this country, if we look, we will recognize ourselves in each other because we share the same fundamental aspirations.

A few days ago, I was in Zaria to commiserate with the family of late Precious Owolabi, who was shot during the protests by the Shiites in Abuja last week. His parents have been living in Kaduna State and his father and mother were Youth Corpers in 1990 and married there and lived there. All of the neighbours who came there to mourn are from different ethnic groups and tribes. The parents didn’t move to Lagos to mourn, they remained in Kaduna. All of us, wherever we are from, have the same cares and concerns. All those who gathered there were those who felt the pain of the mother who lost her child. None of them thought it was a light matter because it happened to a man called Owolabi and his wife. They all felt the common pain of that loss.


In fact, I would argue that rather than mere diversity itself being a curse, it is the allocation of access to social, economic and political opportunities on the basis of identity, that is deeply problematic. The problem is not ethnic or religious differences by themselves, the problem is the struggle for opportunities on the basis of those differences. We see this when Nigerians are denied opportunity on the basis of their State of origin or because they are “non-indigenes.” We see it when a Nigerian that has been resident in a State all his life is suddenly excluded from admission into an educational institution or an employment opportunity because he is not considered an “indigene.” Or when a young Nigerian who has served in a particular state during his NYSC year is suddenly excluded from opportunity because he or she is dubbed a “non-indigene” of the State.  Not only do these practices undermine national cohesion, but they also feed profound resentments that many people feel.

Honesty demands that we begin to recognize the ways in which we perpetuate institutional discrimination and cause people to see their ethnicities and religions, as weapons for procuring opportunity, often at the expense of others. We must also realize the ways in which our system generates perverse incentives to practice prejudice and undermine national cohesion. Because people are forced to play up their ethnic and religious identities to achieve success, there is a tremendous incentive to deploy identity politics, to be irredentist and to mobilize along even smaller group identities.

Identity politics itself is inherently divisive because it turns people against each other and makes them aliens and strangers. As resources become scarce, identity-based claims to a share of the national patrimony, become more aggressive and lead increasingly to conflict. Under these circumstances, identity politics causes us to see each other as competitors and rivals, instead of compatriots and eventually we begin to demonize each other as “enemies.”

Very frequently, the reason people, particularly the elites, hold on to parochial identities, is because it is a negotiating tool. When a person says “my people have been marginalized”, what he is saying is that “I want an appointment and if you don’t give me that appointment, I am ready to make it seem that a whole people have been marginalized.”  

No matter who is president of Nigeria, it doesn’t mean his people would benefit the most.  The reality of our nation is that the common needs of our people are the same; they require education, a place to live, job opportunities, economic advancement and it is not served by any narrow ethnic considerations. It doesn’t help and had never helped.

Rwanda experienced a genocidal civil war in the early 1990s. That conflict was rooted in the promotion of differences between the Hutu and the Tutsi by colonial authorities and the subsequent institutionalization of this notion by Rwandan post-independent elites.

When the war broke out in 1994, it was the culmination of many years of simmering animosity between the Hutus and the Tutsis. Over twenty years later, Rwanda has become the poster child for post-conflict recovery and effective governance.  One of the things the Rwandan government has done to advance national cohesion is to abolish the ethnic categorizations of their citizens as either Hutu or Tutsi and promote the Rwandan national identity above all other subnational constituencies. Indeed, the use of these ethnic particulars in Rwanda has been criminalized as “divisionism.”

In learning from Rwanda, we have to de-emphasize the elements of our national life that negate cohesion. One of the ways we can do this is by downplaying concepts like “indigeneship” and ultimately erasing it from our national lexicon. The classification of Nigerians as “indigenes” and “non-indigenes”, is our own form of divisionism and has long contradicted our declared aspirations towards unity in diversity. All that should matter in evaluating ourselves, is where we live and fulfill our civic obligations. This is why our Social Investment Programmes are being administered on the basis of residency. The eligible beneficiaries were selected based on their states of residence and none was discriminated against on any basis.

This approach is consistent with our broader philosophy of fostering national cohesion by broadening access to opportunity for all Nigerians without qualification. The framers of the constitution clearly understood the importance of civic mutuality and wrote a number of provisions aimed at promoting national cohesion. Among these constitutional provisions are those found in the Second Chapter on the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy which stipulates that “National integration shall be actively encouraged whilst discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be abolished.”

The government is further enjoined to “Secure full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the Federation” and even to “Encourage inter-marriage among persons from different places of origin, or of different religious, ethnic or linguistic association or ties.”

In light of these provisions, it is clear that the promotion of national cohesion for progress and prosperity is a constitutional imperative. I am gratified to note that Kaduna State, for example, to some extent, has abolished all institutionalized discrimination based on the indigene-settler dichotomy and is advancing the cause of common citizenship by making residency the sole basis for providing public goods. This is an important and exemplary step in our pursuit of a country that works for all of us. It may not be perfectly implemented, but that it has become the subject of legislation itself, is progress in the right direction.

Our Federation will never be perfect, nothing organized by humans will ever be, but we must work for a better union; a fairer, more equitable and more just arrangement is possible. We can do better. But that must come from accepting that unity is ultimately more beneficial to all, that unity cannot be justly negotiated under duress, every group must first accept the notion that unity is a desirable option.  

As governments, as leaders, political, religious and in business, we can preach a different message. Those of us who preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, cannot be found preaching hate from our pulpits because it contradicts the very essence of our faith. Our faith says we must fight hate with love, we can insist that all children must be fed, children must go to school and have good healthcare whether we are Christians or Muslims, Igbo, Fulani, Ibibio or Itshekiri. We can insist that all our people anywhere, whether in Zamfara, Borno, Benue or Oyo, deserve the protection of the police and law enforcement promptly and decisively.

We cannot condemn killings only when they touch our own because all of us share a common humanity. The death of people is not a mere occurrence, each person who dies means a grieving devasted mother, father, siblings and friends.

Each death demeans all, whether we speak their language or not. The Nigeria of our dreams cannot emerge from tribal irredentism, religious division, identity politics and cultural chauvinism.

There is no Nigerian tribe that does not have its own histories and folklores of greatness and achievement. But none on its own can be as great as this nation of so many and such diversity.

The truth is that any group that suggests that its destiny is outside the Nigerian Commonwealth and so must separate to achieve or realize its ambition will find soon enough that even within that group there are many little splinters, factions waiting to cut the pie into smaller sizes, hoping that by so doing they would eat a larger piece. It is a fallacy that is repeated time and time again.

The enduring truth is simple those who can unite will always be stronger than those who want to go alone. Unity is ultimately stronger than separateness.

Six decades after independence from the British Empire, Nigeria remains a work in progress and is still in many ways, under construction. Nation-building is the task before us and it is not a task only for those of us in government, it is for all of us.

We must create spaces and institutions that nurture a higher sense of inclusion and commonality. Whether in or out of politics, we have a duty to mobilize people in the name of something much higher, greater and nobler, than petty self-serving agendas and parochial, divisive and chauvinistic causes.

As elites, we have a responsibility to see our various sub-national constituencies, not as small mutually alienated fragments, but as elements with which we can forge the sort of grand cohesion that will truly transform our potential into progress and prosperity.

For seventy years, the Lagos Country Club has, in its own small way, served to promote cohesion and peaceful co-existence by providing a recreational haven for people of different creeds and cultures.

As you continue along the arc of your journey, I wish you every success. It is my fervent hope that the ideals of peaceful coexistence, togetherness, fraternity and mutuality, which you have exemplified thus far, will continue to be transposed on a larger scale in our lives and in our nation.

Thank you for listening. 

Released by:
Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President
31st July 2019 

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Promoting National Unity Fosters Progress And Prosperity, Says Osinbajo

Promoting national unity and cohesion amongst Nigeria’s diverse population rather than divisiveness will guarantee the kind of progress and prosperity that citizens have long desired, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN. 

Prof.  Osinbajo stated this on Tuesday in Lagos while delivering the 70th Anniversary Lecture of the Lagos Country Club, entitled, “Promoting National Cohesion for Progress and Prosperity.”

According to him, “Everything we have learned from the annals of history and from contemporary reports from all over the world, tells us that social diversity can either be a trigger for conflict or a fountain of prosperity and progress. 

“Diversity in and of itself is not a problem; it is what we do with it that matters. Whether or not sociocultural variety results in strife or collective success entirely depends on how a society choose to manage it.”

The Vice President said though the challenges of insecurity occasioned by hate speech and promotion of divisiveness is not peculiar to Nigeria alone, the same principle of diversity and national cohesion driving economic growth in other successful nations applies even in Nigeria.

Citing local examples of States that have harnessed their diversities to attain some levels of progress and prosperity, the Vice President said, “our most dynamic economic spaces have been historically multicultural cities like Lagos and Kano”.

“Lagos as a port city obviously benefitted from its coastal location as a gateway to the African continent for traders and adventurers from beyond the seas as well as from the hinterland. Kano was a major terminal on the trans-Saharan trade drawing commercial traffic from as far North as the Maghreb and the Middle East and from Southern Nigeria. 

“The conscious decision of Bola Tinubu then Governor of Lagos to appoint his commissioners from everywhere in Nigeria is partly responsible for the peerless progress of Lagos State. 

“He appointed Mr Wale Edun from Ogun State as Finance Commissioner, Rauf Aregbesola from Osun as Commissioner for Works, Fola Arthur Worrey from Delta as Commissioner for Lands, Ben Akabueze from Anambra as Commissoner for Budget and Planning, Lai Mohammed from Kwara State as Chief of Staff and I, from Ogun State, as his Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice. 

“Lagos undertook fiscal, real property, judicial and environmental reforms that has made the State a model for the rest of the country. Nigeria is the same nation that produced Philip Emeagwali, an Igbo Christian; Africa’s first Nobel laureate in Literature, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Yoruba, of no known religion; and Jelani Aliyu, Fulani, Muslim, a world class designer of motor vehicles. Nigeria is the nation it is because of the collective strength of its many talents, attributes and contours.

“From the foregoing, it is clear that when we create spaces for migratory talent to flourish without discrimination, there is an economic multiplier effect that results in an ever-increasing radius of growth,” he said.

Continuing, Prof. Osinbajo said, “It is no accident that that the most affluent economies in the world are places that have learned to leverage diversity. In the 21st century, the true wealth of nations is human capital.”

According to him, “this means that places that have learned to attract and retain the most diverse pool of skilled human resources are easily winning the race for success. Diversity means a multiplicity of perspectives and world views, but this also provides a broad range of cultural, philosophical and intellectual approaches for solving problems. 

“In this rich soil, nourished by various ideas and schools of thought, productive synthesis is possible and innovation flourishes. Thus, the world’s richest nations are those places that have learned how to attract talent from various places and to harness diversity as a driver of growth.”

The Vice President said Nigeria can transform its diversity into cohesion that would lead to greater prosperity, noting that the Buhari administration has adopted and initiated programmes that leveraged on the diversity of Nigeria’s population.

He said, “The classification of Nigerians as “indigenes” and “non-indigenes” is our own form of divisionism and has long contradicted our declared aspirations towards unity in diversity. All that should matter in evaluating ourselves is where we live and fulfil our civic obligations. This is why our Social Investment Programmes are being administered on the basis of residency.

“The eligible beneficiaries were selected based on their states of residence and none was discriminated against on any basis. This approach is consistent with our broader philosophy of fostering national cohesion by broadening access to opportunity for all Nigerians without qualification.”

He urged Nigerians to “continue to defuse the potential perils of diversity by continuing to pursue measures that promote social inclusion and national cohesion.”

On ensuring the protection of rights, lives and property in a diverse society like Nigeria, Prof. Osinbajo said, “one of the most important ramparts of national cohesion are the guarantees of fundamental freedoms. The right to life, which comes with the duty of governments to ensure peace and security, freedom of movement, freedom of Worship, and the rule of law.”

According to him, “everyone must be reasonably assured that their lives and livelihoods will be protected by government, that their disputes will be fairly and justly resolved regardless of their ethnicity or faith.  Our challenges as a nation basically centre around these issues – religious conflicts, farmer-herder clashes in the North Central and many parts of the North West, Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, and militancy in the Niger Delta. 

“When law enforcement institutions are weak there is a huge opportunity to run divisive narratives. By that I mean that where, for example, the security agencies do not speedily apprehend criminals, or the criminal justice system is slow, then there is room for people to say that authorities don’t arrest and prosecute Fulani herders when they kill because the law enforcement officers are often not resident in the communities where they are posted for policing duties; then it is easier to promote doubt about their commitment to ensuring the safety of the communities they police.”

Still on the issue of law and order, the Vice President said, “where the quality and integrity of judges is in doubt, it is easier to find parochial reasons for unfavourable decisions.”

Citing the reforms carried out by the Lagos State Government between 1999 and 2007 as an example, the Vice President said “we must strengthen our judicial system, first by the appointment of judges of integrity and sound legal knowledge and then putting in place a welfare package that discourages misconduct.”

He added, “In diverse societies we must do all that is necessary to strengthen the institutions of law enforcement, security and the rule of law. The challenge is dynamic and our approach must also be dynamic. 

“Which is why I believe that State Police in a large, diverse federation is imperative. However, this requires constitutional amendment a product of consensus of our legislators. In the interim the Federal Government has approved the community policing option.

“The IGP recently announced the plan. An important component is that in the new approach to police recruitments. Police officers will be recruited in each local government and after training will be required to remain in their local governments.  

“The plan also involves interfaces between traditional rulers, State neighbourhood watch or vigilante programmes and the police. The security architecture is now being reengineered for greater use of technology and more integration of the use of security platforms.”

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Recruiting Police Officers From Their Communities To Serve There Will Improve Security In States – Osinbajo

In continuation of the series of consultations with a number of leading traditional rulers in different states to help bolster security architecture in local communities and effectively tackle security challenges around the country, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, met with traditional rulers in Osogbo, Osun State capital, today.

Speaking with the press after the meeting with Obas in the state, including the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; Owa Obokun of Ijesaland, Oba Adekunle Aromolaran; and several leading traditional rulers in the State, Prof. Osinbajo said this part of the consultations highlighted the importance of community policing as a major aspect of improving the security architecture in States.

The Vice President further said that effective collaboration between local police officers alongside neighbourhood watch programmes in States would help combat security challenges. 

Prof. Osinbajo noted that traditional rulers constitute a very important part of this arrangement (security architecture) in states, because they act as the interface between the State governments’ and Federal Government’s security architecture.

“We try to look at how all of these would work effectively. Obviously, we need more men and women on ground, we need more security,” he said.

The Vice President added, “We spent a fair amount of time trying to understand the security architecture of the State; where the difficulties may lie and steps that need to be taken. As you know, we’ve already had consultations with the State governors, including State governors of the South West. We’ve also held consultations with the service chiefs.

“So, this stage of the consultations with the traditional rulers is very important, because they are the most important component of the security architecture of the State, in particular because of the plans that we have for community policing. And I’m sure you’ve heard the Inspector General of Police talking about this. It will involve recruiting policemen locally in their local government areas, and letting them remain in their local government areas where they’ve been recruited. Obviously, they would better understand the landscape, their neighbourhood and places. 

“And of course, we also expect that they would be working with the neighbourhood watch programmes in the various States.”

The Vice President assured Nigerians that the Buhari administration has set up measures to effectively tackle security challenges nationwide, including the recent Shi’ites protest in Abuja, emphasizing that President Buhari puts a premium on the lives and security of all Nigerians.

According to him “I’m sure you heard already what the President said about it (Shiites protest) and the instructions that was given to the Inspector General of Police. Some of these issues are dynamic and we have to keep ensuring that we are steps ahead of them. I’m very confident that given a lot of what has been done already, and what the IG himself intends to put in place, we’ll be able to contain most of the security challenges without much problems.”

The Vice President was accompanied by the Deputy Governor of Osun State, Gboyega Alabi, who hosted the meeting at the Government House, Osogbo. Other security chiefs, including from the police and the military were also in attendance.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
23rd July, 2019

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Nigeria Will Be Peaceful As FG, States Tackling Security Challenges – Osinbajo

The Federal Government is making concerted efforts to tackle the country’s security challenges to ensure protection of lives and property, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, said today in Ondo during a condolence visit to Pa Reuben Fasoranti, whose daughter, Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, was killed by gunmen a few days ago in the State.

Condemning the killing, Prof. Osinbajo prayed for God to comfort the family, noting that Government and security agencies will ensure the killers are brought to book.

The Vice President who was accosted by journalists after condoling with the Fasoranti and Olakunrin families in Ondo stated that “this is a massive tragedy as you can imagine, and we have seen it precipitated here and there, kidnappings and death. By and large, we are looking at the whole security architecture and trying to upscale the security architecture, to ensure that we are able to protect the lives and property of Nigerians.”

“We can be hopeful that we will see peace and calm as some of the steps we are taking come into fruition. As you all know, I have met with the Governors in the Southwest and Governors in the different zones, everybody is coming together to look at what to do to ensure that security is adequate and that everyone feels safe and secure.”

Speaking further, the Vice President emphasized the importance of community policing to prevent the occurrence of such dastardly crimes.

He said, “As you know, the President, very recently, met with the Service Chiefs, and also with the Inspector General of Police, and they have laid out a new policy on Community Policing. One of the most important things in these sorts of crimes, because they are largely economic crimes, is that people are trying to make money by kidnappings.

“One of the most important things is gathering intelligence and that is why we have Community Policing; where policemen will be trained in their own local governments and remain there. This is as close as we can get to the Community Policing structure that we expect to have.

“The other thing is that we are also engaging the Army, so there will be a bit more military presence, especially along the roads and as you’ve heard, the Inspector General of Police has committed to full coverage with even helicopters, first in the search for the killers, and also to ensure adequate presence to deter this kind of terrible situation from recurring.”

While noting the challenges of security in a hugely populated and dynamic country like Nigeria, the Vice President said the government will continue to take dynamic measures to tackle the challenges to secure lives and property.

Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity

Office of the Vice President

14th July, 2019

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A Communique Of A Meeting By The NEC Committee On Farmers/Herders Crisis

  1. The NEC Committee on the Farmers/Herders Crisis under the chairmanship of Mr. Vice President, His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo met today, 3rd July, 2019.
  2. Members that were present were Mr. Vice President who presided over the meeting, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State who is the Chairman of the NEC-Sub Technical Committee on Farmers/Herders crisis, Governor of Kebi State who is the Vice Chairman of Food Security Council, Governor of Plateau State, Deputy Governor of Adamawa State, Deputy Chief of Staff to the President; office of the Vice President, Permanent Secretary; Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Andrew Kwasali-Secretary of the NEC-Sub Technical Committee on Farmers/Herders Crisis and Director in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  3. Members deliberated on the NEC and Federal Government approved programme of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).
  4. Members are aware that Mr. President has suspended the implementation of RUGA programme initiated and implemented alone by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources because it is not consistent with the NEC and FGN approved NLTP which has programmes of rehabilitation of displaced IDPs within crisis States and development of Ranching in any willing State of the federation.
  5. The beauty of NLTP is that what NEC and FGN approved is only voluntary to all the 36 States who may like to participate.
  6. That any state that is interested in NLTP is required to bring development plan in line with NLTP for implementation in his State which will be unique to the State based on the challenges of the State.
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Osinbajo’s Rise And Climb: Through The Hearts Of Nigerians, And Through Our Rough Political Waters, By Richard Ogundiya

For most of the country’s democratic sovereignty, there’s been enough disparagement about the weakness of the nation’s second office. However, one gripping fact from the 2019 general elections is the rising power of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the public’s increased interest for his job more than in other election cycles.

Six years ago I sat in a room filled with young professionals and graduates who claimed to be interested in national politics, only 3 people knew who the Vice President of Nigeria was at the time, Namadi Sambo. It wasn’t so strange, the same goes for Atiku Abubakar, President Buhari’s strongest contender in the 2019 general elections; not a lot of people can point out to his deeds and accomplishments as the Vice President of Nigeria between 1999 to 2007, save allegations that haunt him to this day. By his own conduct, Professor-turned-Politician, Yemi Osinbajo, a central across-the-board figure, exercising his shrewdness and mild suaveness in his service as Buhari’s deputy provoked this sudden outburst for credo. While many argue that the VP office is like the human appendix, a vestigial organ on the body politic – unnecessary, Prof as he is fondly called has broken the jinx; he is arguably Nigeria’s most industrious VP on record. Since assuming office in 2015, he has worked with relevant departments and agencies to identify problems and recommend solutions regarding economic development, healthcare, foreign exchange policies, poverty alleviation and food security.

With vast experience in international law practice and academia, the VP has served in several positions of authority and contributes to the national discourse even before his foray into active politics. As Attorney General of Lagos State, he is credited with undertaking far-reaching significant judicial reforms, addressing critical areas as judges’ recruitment, remuneration, training and discipline as well as access to justice for the poor by establishing appropriate institutions in the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) and the Citizens Mediation Centre (CMC). He solitarily founded the Orderly Society Trust (OST), an excel literacy programme that aims to provide children in public primary schools with the same level of training in English as is available to their counterparts in private schools. His drive for getting the average Nigerian child quality education doesn’t stop at that, he organized the Liberty Schools Project that still provides free primary school education with free school lunches to poor children. The Project currently has three sites, one very close to where I live in Lagos.

In 2016, when the nation’s economy hit a nosedive, the VP alongside the National Economic Council which he chairs presented ‘59 strategies for implementing the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). The efforts of the NEC were instrumental in defining Nigeria’s policy direction and prudence that saw Nigeria ushered out of a recession quicker than economists predicted. Policies such as the unpopular ban of FOREX provisions to 41 items made significant impact in managing our scarce Dollars at that time.

On the President’s directive, he plays a significant role in the ‘Niger Delta New Vision’ plan – a set of promises, solutions and initiatives the President Buhari administration has set in place for the restoration of peace and ensuring the region benefits maximally from the nation’s oil wealth. The programme has fostered security in the creeks and enabled an increase in production and hitch-free flow of crude to the international market. Along with 12 Federal Ministries and state governments, Professor Osinbajo launched the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Clinic (MSME), a scheme addressing the plethora of challenges affecting the growth and productivity of growing businesses to bring about significant and sustainable GDP growth, employment generation and increase in local productivity.

Osinbajo’s claim to fame can be traced back to May 2017 when he was conferred the Acting President of the Federation during President Buhari’s medical leave. Unlike his predecessors, President Buhari vested all legal powers to him in accordance with the constitution. As Acting President, Osinbajo exhibited fearlessness and charisma, taking decisive and perhaps dramatic actions. He ordered the overhaul of SARS – the Police’s notorious anti-robbery squad and demanded quick investigation of numerous allegations of assaults by the unit. He sacked Daura, the DSS Chief, describing his actions as ‘unacceptable and a gross violation of constitutional order, rule of law and all accepted notions of law and order’. Indeed, he knows his stuff. In that interlude, when he wasn’t leading FEC meetings, he was engaging the 36 states with a keen interest in grassroots politics, women affairs, agriculture and young people. He has shown a mastery of communication and responsibility; like President Buhari, he is still actively engaged in the fight for the return of kidnapped girls and the welfare of their families; during the campaigns, he held numerous town hall meetings across the country and participated in youth-led initiatives clamouring for change. In less than 5 years on the national scene, he has gained good popularity among the Nigerian people for his achievements and dexterity in handling national issues.

In the cyberspace, the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has gathered the most likes, comments and engagements, grossing over 500,000 likes on Facebook, 2 million followers on Twitter and 500,000 Instagram subscribers and social strength of 16 million, he is the second most-followed Nigerian politician after his boss President Muhammadu Buhari. For the first time in a long time we are witnessing a proactive and dynamic 62-year-old man – petite, eloquent, tech-savvy, and an unassuming leader.

While a vice presidential pick has never been solely credited with swinging an election, it can leave an indelible impression about the judgment of a would-be president or help address something that is lacking at the top of the ticket; whether it be a regional appeal, ideological purity, religious sentiments or a gap in their resume. Sometimes, it’s all of the above.

His role in the country’s technological ecosystem cannot be easily undermined. From being part of a tech tour around hubs and start-ups across Nigeria to facilitating the 2016 Aso Villa Demo day, a platform meant to promote innovation and provide opportunities for entrepreneurs and start-ups solving local problems. Interestingly, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg made his first trip to Africa and was also part of the pitch competition to which the VP played host. At the Google For Nigeria 2018 event, Osinbajo assured that Nigeria will partner with Google to boost internet connectivity nationwide. You’ll also catch the VP at creative events and spaces where Nigeria’s new age is being celebrated. Whether it’s at the Ake Book Festival, Art Summits or Fashion Week, he appeals as a desirable model of what a progressive leader should be.

Many also love him for his religious ties, prior to his role as VP, Professor Osinbajo served as a top pastor in the Redeemed Christian church of God, Nigeria’s largest Pentecostal Church body, but beyond this, his sheer honesty, intellectual acuity and genuine delight has caused him to be loved by all and sundry. His rise to the heart of the Nigerian people has been an easy climb.

Richard Ogundiya is a Journalist covering technology, politics, development and culture in Africa.

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We’re Committed To The Release Of Leah Sharibu, Osinbajo Tells Pence

Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and his American counterpart, Mike Pence, held discussions yesterday in the White House, with both leaders affirming the mutual benefit inherent in a deeper bilateral relationship between both countries.

At a meeting laced with friendly banter, cordial exchange of pleasantries and sharing of faith values, both Vice Presidents in their discussion on economy, military assistance and other issues, affirmed the need for continuous observation of the rule of law, while also noting Nigeria’s pride of place on the African continent and America’s reputed global leadership.

Issues discussed at the nearly hour-long meeting & interaction between the two leaders include how to counter extremism, the threat of global terrorism, and the continuous observation of the rule of law, among others.

While both leaders agreed on the need to strengthen the economy and markets generally, Prof. Osinbajo added that, “The US is a natural ally of Nigeria, as Nigeria and US have many things in common.”

He noted that with Nigeria being the largest economy in Africa, its market offers great opportunities to US investors. 

The Nigerian VP stated that his visit to the White House is to further deepen the relationship between the two nations and its people.

In their discussions on economic matters, Mr. Pence said, “Nigeria is a great country with a history of 200 million people, that’s a great nation. I want to see Nigeria prospering more.”

US VP Pence then told his Nigerian counterpart that, “I am grateful that you reached out, the door is open for more dialogue.”

He said Nigeria should continue to pursue market reforms in the economy and encourage an independent judiciary, adding that the rule of law will contribute to Nigeria’s future.

Both leaders also discussed Nigeria’s economic diversification efforts, during which Prof. Osinbajo spoke on how Nigeria is deepening the manufacturing industry and trying to reform the power sector to allow for more investors. 

He appreciated the support of USAID through its Power Africa initiative that is helping Nigeria to further open the space in the power sector.

On the issue of security challenges and military assistance, the Nigerian VP thanked the Trump administration for its support on the purchase order for the Tucano aircrafts, stressing that such military equipment will help the Federal Government in the battle against terrorism and insurgency.

Discussing government’s efforts to secure the release of Leah Sharibu, Prof. Osinbajo expressed the commitment of the Buhari administration to continue to negotiate for her release and that of the remaining abducted Chibok girls.


“Over 100 of the Chibok girls that were abducted even before President Muhammadu Buhari came into government, have been released under the Buhari administration, “the VP explained adding that most of the Chibok girls, 90% of them, were also Christians.

The American VP appreciated the efforts of the Nigerian government and offered US’ support in ensuring the release of others still abducted. Mr. Pence said he “appreciates the perspective on Leah Sharibu,” adding that, “I am aware of the sensitive nature of her plight,” while also noting that most of the girls that were released in the Chibok abduction were Christians.

Recalling how President Muhammadu Buhari was himself attacked by Boko Haram terrorists in 2014, the Nigerian Vice President said it is the firm and often publicly stated view of President Buhari that anyone who kills an innocent person and then says “God is great” is either insane or simply does not understand what he is saying.

Vice President Osinbajo returned to Abuja this morning.

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For The Records: What Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Said On Kidnapping

Our attention has been drawn to misleading reports in a section of the media purportedly made by and attributed to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, on the security situation in Nigeria, in New York.

For the purpose of clarity, and the records it is pertinent to state that Prof. Osinbajo was entirely misquoted and his words taken out of context in the said media reports especially those that quoted him as saying that “Kidnapping in Nigeria is exaggerated and not entirely new”

Nowhere in the Vice President’s remarks at the townhall meeting with the Nigerian community did he use the word “exaggerated,” not even by implication.

His remarks about the social media being hysterical was a general response to comments made by participants at the meeting about information on happenings in Nigeria especially as they relate to security being shared on social media platforms by unverified sources.

WHAT THE VP SAID

According to the Vice President “I really will urge that you don’t rely entirely for information on social media. I think that the social media tends to be hysterical about practically everything.

“I think there is also a lot of politics involved in some of the information as it comes up. I think it is also important to point out that this new wave of issues of security came immediately after the elections. And there is always a connection between this issue of security and elections because many times, politicians’ arm several of these individuals during the electioneering period, and immediately after an election cycle, many of them, having nothing to do and with arms all over the place, resort to the fastest way of making money which is to abduct somebody and ask for a ransom. And that is just one side of the problem.

“But let me dimension it so that you can really understand it better.

“When people say there is security problem here and there, it is not one thing, it is several different things but if it is described as one thing then it will look bigger than it really is. And I am deeply worried about the fact that we might find ourselves unable to resolve these problems unless we drill down to see what the problems are.”

“With respect to general kidnapping which we have seen in certain parts of the country, again this is not entirely new. When you listen to some of the stories, some of them are simply not true anyway. Some are fueled by politics, but there are cases of kidnapping, there is no question at all about that….and every story we try to track and trace. When you track them, you find out that people just tell some stories, but the truth anyway is that there is kidnapping in places where it has taken place. The way to check it is the work we are doing with State governments namely using technology to track cases. These are economic crimes; if people know that they will be caught, and they will not be allowed to get away with their loot, it will stop in the places where it is taking place. That is really the work we are doing with the State governments. We are doing this in the various zones where we see that there are a rash of incidents. We are trying to put in place trackers and all sorts of other equipment that can be used to locate these criminals.

“I am not so sure how many follow the number of arrests that have been made in different state police commands, several have been made. I don’t think the problem is as massive as that, I think we can deal with the question of kidnapping quite easily. I am sure that not so long a time, the news will be a lot better in terms of kidnapping and we will feel more comfortable about life at home.”

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity)
Office of the Vice President

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Vice President Osinbajo Reassures Nigerians In Diaspora Of Buhari Administration’s Determination To Secure Country & Prosper The People

Taking more than 40 questions from the Nigerian community in New York Sunday night, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has reassured Nigerians in Diaspora about the determination of the Buhari administration to secure the country and prosper the people.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this while responding to questions during a townhall meeting with some members of the Nigerian community in New York.

The forum with Nigerians in the Diaspora was one of the activities lined up for the Vice President’s visit to the United States.

According to him, “there is really nothing serious to worry about because we are taking the necessary steps to address issues relating to herders/farmers clashes, kidnappings and others.”

While highlighting different aspects of the Federal Government’s agenda at the townhall meeting in midtown Manhattan, Prof. Osinbajo said the whole essence of the policies and programmes on social welfare, health care and others is to take majority of Nigerians out of poverty.

He said “the reason why we decided to have what we call the Social Investment Programmes is basically because it is one of the ways to address the problem of poverty in Nigeria.

“Nigeria has never systematically addressed the poverty problem in the way that India, which used to have the largest population of poor people, have done.

“As at 2010, Nigeria had a population of about 112.7 million people living in extreme poverty and there was nothing in place to address the problem, no social investment programme, no social security, no way of getting people out of poverty.

“So, the National Social Investment Programme was to address questions of how to get our people out of poverty and to address the major concerns of poverty.”

Continuing, Prof. Osinbajo said “some people are so poor that they cannot afford the basics of life, so the disbursement of N5,000 monthly stipends to such people under the Conditional Cash Transfer has gone a long way in helping them.”

“Dealing with the problem of poverty is so huge that we also came up with the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) where we give interest-free loans to petty traders under what we call the TraderMoni scheme.

“These are traders at the bottom of pyramid in our economic value chain, those whose inventory are sometimes not more than N5,000. They are given N10,000 and when they pay back, they get higher amounts up to N100,000.

“The same thing we are doing with the Homegrown School Feeding Programme where we give children in public schools a free meal every day, and we are feeding about 9.5 million children in 31 states. This initiative is key to addressing one of the issues associated with poverty, which is malnutrition. And we have found that as a result of this programme, school enrolment figures have gone up significantly.

“Also, part of the reasons why we are doing this is first the multiplier, because it is homegrown; the entire value chain is serviced locally, including the cooks who are picked from the locality of the school,” Prof. Osinbajo added.

On measuring the impact of the schemes, Prof. Osinbajo said an impact assessment report on the cash transfer and the microcredit schemes would be released before the end of September 2019.

According to the Vice President “we are trying to measure the impact and we have put together a team with the World Bank assisting us. We also have one or two organizations who are trying to do this measurement for us and I believe that in the next two months we should have at least the first report looking at some of the impact of the microcredit schemes and the conditional cash transfers.

“But a lot of these things are intuitive. I don’t think that there is any great difficulty in knowing that when people are enabled it makes things easier for them and people can see the results.”

On health care funding, the Vice President said the Federal Government was committed to addressing the challenge of inadequate funding through an innovative approach that takes care of the poor in the society.

According to him, “what we have done is to follow the provision of the Health Act which says that 1% of our Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) must go to health care and that is what we have done. For the first time, for the 2018 budget, we have set aside the 1 % of the CRF for health.

“Aside from that we also have the basic health care provision fund which we are running in all of the states. This is the Federal Government contribution which is matched by the states to deal with primary health care issues.

“The challenge is that you cannot deal with health care from government budget alone. This is the reason why the National Health Insurance is very important for us. An amendment has been effected to make contributory health insurance compulsory.

“For us, one of the problems to address is the large numbers of poor people. So, in determining what that premium will be, we decided that government will pay 35% of the premium so that those who cannot afford to pay are taken care of by government.”

On pensions, Prof. Osinbajo said the Buhari administration had through several interventions resolved some issues with pensioners in different organisations and sectors including the Nigerian Airways, military and paramilitary organisations, civil service and parastatals, amongst others.

He added that the bailout funds released to some states by the Buhari administration were, in many instances, meant to pay arrears of pensions and salaries.

On leveraging human capital in the Diaspora to complement development efforts in Nigeria, the Vice President said the establishment of the Diaspora Commission by the Buhari administration was one of the ways to show government’s commitment to work with Nigerian professionals in the Diaspora.

He said “the reason why the Diaspora Commission was set up is to address all the various concerns that the Diasporan have and that we also have as government and in some cases as institutions.

“We believe very strongly that the Diaspora is an important partner in all the things that we are doing. You can talk about their remittances and all that. So, they are an important component in what we are doing, as you have heard in GDP, and their remittances.”

Prof. Osinbajo also urged them to work closely with the Diaspora Commission to identify ways of contributing to the development of the country.

Also present at the event was Hon. Justice Sylvanus Nsofor, Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States; Prof. Tijjani Bade, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations and President of the UN General Assembly, amongst others.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President
25 June, 2019

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Technology: Nigeria & Nigerians Will Surprise The World, Says Osinbajo

The potential, effort and impact being made by Nigerians in technology can enable the country roll out indigenous technology solutions that can transform the global space according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this Monday while interacting with interested investors and foreign policy experts on Nigeria’s economic prospects and related matters at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City.

In a question and answer session after his opening remarks at the event, Prof Osinbajo was asked about the ongoing international dispute regarding some global technology firms and the issue of 5G.

He explained that even though Nigeria is yet to roll out 5G, “we do not have those complications (comparatively) in taking decisions in that regard. But, we practically welcome every company that wants to do business with us in Nigeria. Huawei is in Nigeria and so are all the other technology companies.

“We haven’t gone through any kind of decision making for rolling out the 5G technology; as a matter of fact we are going to roll out 5G ourselves. Talking about the equipment and technology; how did the Chinese get it? How did anyone else get the technology? We will do it ourselves.”

Speaking further, the Vice President who was optimistic about the possibility to developing homegrown capacity in the technology space said government would leverage the efforts and resourcefulness of youths to actualize its potentials in the sector.

“Our potential in technology and entertainment has been attracting huge attention. First is the market, at 174 million GSM phones, we are among the top ten telephone users in the world, and we have the highest percentage of people who use internet on their phones in the world,” Prof Osinbajo added.

Continuing he said “we are also number two in mobile internet banking in the world, and 17 million Nigerians are on Facebook. Microsoft has announced that it will establish a 100 million dollar African Development Centre in Nigeria.

“Second is the ever-growing number of technology startups, young digital entrepreneurs who are creating solutions to value chain and logistics challenges and creating thousands of jobs in the process. Andela, a software company training software developers for many Fortune 500 companies received a $24m dollar investment from Facebook.”

In the other sectors of the economy, the Vice President told the American audience that Nigeria remained the best place to invest given its market and enterprising population.

He said “now, we are opening up our power sector. We are asking power firms to come in and invest in end to end power supply. Power Africa – a USAID project has made a commitment of $110m over five years (2018 – 2023) to provide transaction support to the entire value-chain covering gas supply, distribution, transmission and generation activities with our population, and a market-driven power sector, so the next few years promise exciting prospects.

“This is also the case with other infrastructure. We are embarking on the largest investment in infrastructure in our history, welcoming private investments in concessions and projects rail, roads, airports, and other infrastructure.”

On agriculture, Prof. Osinbajo said “Nigeria has the 9th largest stock of arable land in the world. We have become world leaders in cassava, yams, sorghum, and millet, and we are on the threshold of self-sufficiency in paddy rice production.

“Seeing greater interest in agriculture and the agro-allied value chain, there is no question that aside from the export market, our population presents a massive and lucrative local market.”

Speaking specifically about what government was doing to revive manufacturing in the country, the Vice President said the Federal Government’s Project Made In Nigeria for Export, titled Project MINE was conceived to drive the country’s industrialization agenda.

According to him, “we are investing at the moment in the creation of special economic zones. Our Project MINE is designed to attract sunset industries from more advanced manufacturing economies, in search of affordable well-trained labor in Nigeria.

“At the moment we are focusing on industries for local manufacture of goods for which Nigeria has a comparative advantage. These include cotton, garments, leather, and light industrial manufacturing.”

Speaking further on efforts to improve domestic manufacturing, the Vice President said “the Nigerian Special Economic Zones Investment company is a public-private partnership established as the delivery vehicle for the project.

“Investors for the project include AFDB, Afroexim Bank, and AFC. Already work has begun in three locations. The Enyimba Economic City in Aba, Abia State, covers over 9500 hectares. Three international anchor tenants have been secured for phase one of the project. The city will be served by an existing IPP for power and will create 625,000 jobs when it is fully built.

“There is also the Lekki Model Industrial Park in partnership with the Lagos State Government in Lagos. It is set on 1000 hectares in the northeast cluster of Lekki Free Zone. It has already attracted world-class anchor tenants for textiles and garments, agro-processing and light industrial manufacturing including the number 1 Chinese and number 9 global textiles and garment group, (RUYI Group).

“The third project in its early stages is the Funtua Cotton Cluster in Katsina State which is in North West Nigeria. Funtua has the largest aggregation of cotton ginneries in Nigeria. The cluster will aggregate cotton from 800,000 farmers in Northern Nigeria and become the largest integrated cotton ginning, spinning and weaving complex in Sub Saharan Africa,” the Vice President noted.

In renewable energy, Prof. Osinbajo said “huge prospects also exist in investments in renewable energy, energy-efficient-processes and clean technology.”

According to him “gas had been flared for almost 60 years by major oil companies but in 2017 government approved the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme, designed to eliminate gas flaring through technically and commercially sustainable gas utilization projects. The Programme offers flared gas for sale through a transparent and competitive bidding process.”

After his interaction at the CFR, the Vice President was received at the United Nations by a team of top officials of the world body led by Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed at the UN headquarters.

Prof. Osinbajo and the UN officials discussed ways Nigeria and the UN can further collaborate on national, regional and global issues.

The Vice President would be meeting his American counterpart tomorrow Wednesday at the White House before heading back to Abuja.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President
25 June 2019
Copyright © 2019, Office of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, All rights reserved.

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Where Nigeria Is Heading In The Next 10 Years – Osinbajo

The Federal Government’s vision for Nigeria in the next 10 years and more is to transform the economy into an industrialized one with a strong middle class and a place where the majority of the people are living above the poverty line, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this at a Dinner and Interactive Session with some visiting Faculty Members from the Harvard Business School (HBS) led by Prof. Srikant Datar, a Professor of Business Administration, alongside a select group of Nigerian business executives, on Tuesday evening in Lagos.

The Vice President featured alongside Srikant Datar and Mr. Bayo Ogunlesi, a Nigerian Investment banker in the United States of America, in a panel discussion moderated by Mr. Hakeem Belo- Osagie, Chairman of Metis Capital Partners and addressed several issues on power, the economy and climate change, amongst others.

According to the Vice President, “I will like to see Nigeria become an industrialized nation in the next 10 years; with a very strong middle class and most people living above poverty line. Our policies and programmes are directed at achieving this objective.”

He said the Federal Government had put in place measures that will kick-start the industrialization drive of the country, citing the example of the creation of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and small manufacturing clusters across the country as some of the steps taken by government.

He said “practically everything we are doing is to ensure that there is a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.

“The Federal Government is looking at natural economic clusters. We have done a lot of work in five of them, we are looking at 23 others, and we have already set up shared facilities in designated locations to address some of the concerns in production.

“What we plan for the Special Economic Zones is also unique and geared towards that drive to industrialize our economy.”

Speaking on efforts to alleviate poverty, the Vice President said it is being addressed by government.

When asked what keeps him up at night, Prof. Osinbajo said it is the problem of “extreme poverty; the issue is that the largest number of those who vote for us are the very poor.

“The promises that government makes to them is that their lives will be better and obviously they are looking at their lives being better in the shortest possible time.”

He explained that a number of government policies and programmes were focused on people at the bottom of the pyramid, especially in agriculture and trade, and getting credit facilities to people in order to enable them improve in whatever they are doing.

He said that many farmers had been lifted out of poverty as a result of some of the initiatives, adding nonetheless that the scale needs to be improved.

According to him, “First, the focus of our government was on agriculture which has the potential to take many out of poverty. We are supporting farmers operating through the out-grower programme and our focus is to attain sufficiency in Rice, Sorghum and Millet production.

“A lot of attention has also been given to the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) which factored the provision of cheap credit to petty traders—at the bottom of the pyramid. We have given out cheap credits through our TraderMoni and MarketMoni initiatives and this has also proven to be largely successful.”

On Power, the Vice President said the government is committed to finding lasting solutions to issues militating against the improvements that ought to have been witnessed in the sector.

“The issues are enormous but what we really need to do is to re-write regulations and encourage more people to invest in the sector.

“In the next few months, we will unveil a plan that deals with most of the critical issues in the power sector,’’ he said.

Addressing concerns raised about climate change, Prof Osinbajo said Nigeria would not act differently as “the momentum, globally, is in favour of renewable energy and recycling”.

He cited examples of what the Federal Government in partnership with the private sector have so far done, through the solar power programme in selected markets in Kano, Abia and Lagos States as well as the Federal Government Green Bond Initiative.

On improving trade among countries in Africa, the Vice President said Intra-African trade is important and is “the way to go” but that there is the need to address concerns around dumping and protection of local manufacturers, amongst others before the endorsement of any agreements.

Addressing the issue of brain drain and efforts to curb it, the Vice President expressed optimism that the steps being taken by government to improve the business environment in Nigeria will address the menace.

According to him, “As people see that the environment is getting better for business, they will come back, the opportunities for making huge profits are here.”

He also noted that Nigeria was open to business as it has a lot of potential and urged Nigerian investors abroad to look homewards.

“If you are going to do business anywhere in Africa, it has to be Nigeria. This is where you have the energy, you have the drive.

“We are already seeing that kind of activity, business people will always be driven by profit,” Prof. Osinbajo added.

On his part, Datar said he was particularly proud of Osinbajo as an academic in governance, stressing that academics do well in governance.

He pledged HBS’s readiness in providing needed support for human capital development in Nigeria and proffering solutions to tackling Nigeria’s infrastructure challenge.

Also speaking at the event, Ogunlesi said that the era of depending on government for infrastructure was gone, adding the Federal Government had no business running infrastructure in Nigeria, especially the airports.

In a vote of thanks, Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, regretted the high poverty rate in Nigeria especially in the North West and called for urgent action to address it, advocating for a committee on girl-child education to be set up to address issues surrounding early marriage and family planning.

The event also attracted Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington, immediate past Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, immediate past Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma amongst others.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President
19th June 2019

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