By Seyi Gesinde
Maybe you too have been wondering why Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, is being invited here and there to deliver lectures and for other reasons at home and abroad. Let’s do a quick rundown of his recent lectures: On Monday, April 17, 2023, Vice President Osinbajo delivered a Policy Making and Good Governance Lecture Series of Nigeria Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) titled: “Creating a Homeland for All: Nation-Building in a Diverse Democracy.”
On September 1, 2022, VP Osinbajo delivered a lecture on “Just and Equitable Energy Transition,” participating in a conversation with Afsaneh Beschloss, CEO Of RockCreek and CGD Board Member at Center for Global Development in Washington D.C, in the United States of America. The following day, he had an audience with United States Vice President Kamala Harris, who after engaging with Prof Osinbajo, described him as an “extraordinary leader.”
He returned to Nigeria and then two months later, Prof Osinbajo left for Canada, where he had been invited to deliver a public lecture on the subject of “Africa and Climate Justice” at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, precisely on Tuesday, November 22, 2022. The highpoint of his lectures there was saying “The race to net-zero must not leave Africa in the dark,” while he gave a clue to be “that we must lift inhibitive development finance restrictions and upscale technology transfers to ensure developing regions have access to the latest energy innovations and can build local industries on fair terms,” among others.
Starting a new year, on Monday, January 16, 2023, Vice President Osinbajo left Nigeria for Monrovia, Liberia, to attend the “Emerging Young Leaders Forum,’’ at the instance of his Liberian counterpart, Dr Jewel Howard-Taylor, who is marked her 60th birthday on January 17. He also interacted with a selected group of 400 emerging leaders. There, Dr Howard-Taylor described Prof Osinbajo as a humble and selfless leader who inspires hope for a better Africa. She noted that emerging leaders across the continent have so much to learn from his humility and commitment to service.
The following day, on Tuesday, January 17, 2023, back home, Prof Osinbajo was in Ogun, Ogun State, where he delivered the Centenary Lecture at the 100th anniversary of the Baptist Boys’ High School (BBHS) titled: “The Values: The Difference Between Success And Failure.” There, he stressed the values of hard work and integrity, saying, Nigeria can produce the highest quality individuals to run the most efficient governments and private institutions if the right values of hard work, honesty and integrity, among others, are taught and imbibed.
It wasn’t too long after he also spoke on the topic: “Africa Can Prosper in an Increasingly Complex World,” delivering a lecture hosted by the African Leadership Center at King’s College London. Three weeks later, in a new lecture titled: “Africa 2050: Making Growth Work,” Prof Osinbajo spoke virtually to a global audience at the 2023 Africana Conference of the Fletcher School, Tufts University, USA, on Wednesday, March 15, 2023.
Again, six weeks after, Prof Osinbajo left for the US on the invitation of another ivy league school, the University of Pennsylvania, to deliver a lecture on “Climate Change and a Just Transition,” hosted by University’s Center for Africana Studies, on Monday, April 24, 2023, and for interaction with students of Wharton Business School, among others.
The question agitating the minds of many now is: why is PYO getting all these invitations lately, beginning from home, Nigeria, to Monrovia, to Canada to the United States, to the United Kingdom? At home and most especially around the world, they want to experience PYO’s personality, they want to embrace his style and more Why?
Simply put, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, is now the Global Face of Africa as a top government player. And the reasons are not far from being an incorruptible one, a rare breed of politician who has defeated all the “abnormal norms” encouraging mediocrity in public service in Africa, especially in Nigeria. Prof Osinbajo’s unusual brilliance, the coherency of his words and the profundity of his knowledge are why he is irresistible at home and abroad. More so, the Vice President has with his courage, truthfulness in power, promptness to act and ability to offer immediate solutions to knotty issues, won the hearts of many people globally.
One such instance is this, on July 30, 2021, the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) began a national strike, and their National President, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, said only Vice President Osinbajo could be trusted to resolve their crisis. “If we get a strong commitment from the Vice President, I can put myself on the line, I can take it to the national executive of the association if we get that (commitment) from the Vice President, we can do anything to call off the strike the Vice President can be trusted, ” Okhuaihesuyi said.
So, after their discussions with authorities lingered for a while, later on, VP Osinbajo reached out to the striking resident doctors and discussed the issues with their leaders for a lasting solution, and on Monday, October 4, 2021, they called off the strike and they have been at work to date. This is the type of dignity in labour and integrity in leadership, plus the solution-finding and problem-solving approach and skills that Vice President Osinbajo brought to governance.
ALSO READ: Osinbajo the solutionist
Reflecting on his other impactful engagements where he was invited to give lectures and give other reasons within the academic circles alone either at home or abroad since he became the Vice President on May 29, 2015, it was discovered that, Prof Osinbajo has been to at least, over 30 universities. The Vice President was in October 2016, at Afe Babalola University, Ekiti, Ekiti State, for its 4th Convocation Ceremony; in June 2017, at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, for its 50th Conference of the Nigeria Association of Law Teachers; in November 2017, Lead City University in Ibadan, Oyo State, for its 10th Convocation Ceremony; in January 2018, University of Warwick, in the United Kingdom, for the 2018 Warwick Africa Summit titled: “The African Century;” and in January 2018, Harvard University (Center for African Studies), in the United States for “US Talk on Socio-Economic Developments in Nigeria.”
Likewise, in June 2018, he was at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Lagos State, for the “Launch of Student Innovation Challenge;” in September 2018, Bayero University, Kano State, for the “Launch of Student Innovation Challenge;” in September 2018, Oxford University, in the United Kingdom, to deliver a Public lecture titled: “Challenge of Human Capital Development in 21st Century;” in November 2018, University of Ibadan, for its Convocation and 70th Founders’ Day Ceremony; in January 2019, Nigerian University of Technology and Management, Abuja and Nigerian University of Technology and Management for its fundraiser; in April 2019, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Lagos State, for its 50th Convocation Lecture titled: “Nigeria Rising, The Path to Prosperity;” and in May 2019, Lagos State University (LASU), Lagos State, for its 23rd Convocation Lecture titled: “Africa Centres of Excellence in African Universities: A Veritable Catalyst for Nation Building and Development.”
Similarly, in September 2019, the Vice President visited Osun State University, Osogbo, for its 8th Convocation Lecture titled: “Six Decades of Chequered Nationhood: Nigeria still holds the Key to Africa’s Development;” in October 2019, Dominion University, Oyo State, for its Proclamation Service, and Baze University, Abuja, for its 6th Convocation Lecture titled: “Principle of Trustworthiness or Integrity;” in February 2020, Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State, for its Convocation lecture titled: “Facing the New Decade;” in March 2021, Sokoto State University for its First Convocation Lecture titled: “Nigeria: Some Defining Issues for the Future;” in August 2021, Babcock University, Ogun State, for its 33rd Inaugural Lecture, titled: “From Small Business to Big Business: A Future with Little Hope;” and in October 2021, Imperial College, the United Kingdom, for “London Lecture on Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan.
Also, in December 2021, Prof Osinbajo attended the First Convocation Lecture of Kola Daisi University, Ibadan, Oyo State; in December 2021, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife, Osun State, for its 60th Anniversary and Convocation ceremony; in February 2022, Federal University, Wukari, Taraba State, for its 2nd Combined Convocation Ceremony; in March 2022, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, for its 6th Combined Convocation Ceremony; in April 2022, University of Maiduguri, Borno State, for the formal hand over of the Muhammadu Indimi Centre for International Studies; in October 2022, Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), for its 32nd Convocation Ceremony; in November 2022, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, a visit to Innovation Hub, Presentation Of 3-D Hologram Machine and Meeting with Senior Administrative Officials; and in December 2022, FTP University, Hanoi, Vietnam, for the tour of University Tech Incubation Centre.
As we can see, up to date, Prof Osinbajo is the most-engaged Nigeria’s Vice President in the country’s democratic history. His type is rare especially as an African politician and government leader in a country once described by former British Prime Minister, David Cameron as “fantastically corrupt.” He has proven him wrong that incorruptible ones are still around. Then, Prof Osinbajo is a true polymath and at the same time a virtuoso storyteller. So, to a global audience, they know that his wealth of experience, its usefulness and relevance to nation-building transcend beyond the African borders — and as he is being enjoyed at home, the world can’t resist him — they need his wisdom to solve problems to generally make our world better!
Gesinde, an award-winning journalist, is a political scientist and public affairs analyst.