By Oluwafemi Popoola
“Holding political office is more of an opportunity to serve and positively impact the lives of millions of people, rather than the prestige that comes with the position.”
Those, were in part, the words of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, at the launch of the book titled: “Deputising and Governance in Nigeria” written by the Governor of Kano State, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
At the event in Abuja, on Tuesday, October 25, 2022, the Vice President articulated the significance of dedication, loyalty and service in political office on governance. For Osinbajo benefiting humanity and making a difference in politics is of utmost importance. Tim Fargo, a successful American entrepreneur and writer also once said, “Leadership is service, not position.” Great minds, they say, think alike. So, we can say like Osinbajo, like Fargo.
Tim Fargo and Yemi Osinbajo may have chosen different career shores. While the former is a business tycoon and writer, the latter is a law professor, a seasoned teacher and a refined politician. But it seems both are driven by the same political microscope relating to governance. Great minds are identical in thoughts, deeds and what drives them.
Similarly, speaking about true service in the context of the present political reality in Nigeria, it is hard to think of someone that has demonstrated that principle in this government other than the current Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
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The VP has been pivotal and more influential in this administration than any other public servant. Sure, there are a lot of performers in the Buhari government, some of whom have done very well in their respective ministries, departments and agencies, either as cabinet members or heads of parastatals. For example, the minister of works, Babatunde Fashola and the chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Buba Marwa, likewise a few others have made their mark in this government.
They all deserve the praise singing they enjoy. But what makes Osinbajo unique is his commitment to excellence through hard work and dedication. The rarity of this special quality in an average Nigerian politician sets him miles apart from his peers and even his predecessors. Osinbajo is a complete embodiment of values, service and dedication to the people. This and more are reasons most Nigerians love their Vice President.
In the past few years either as Vice President or as a member of the human family, Osinbajo has championed different kinds of programmes, policies and projects that have been transformational and have impacted millions of lives.
Outside political offices, Prof Osinbajo has launched dozens of initiatives to help the poor and downtrodden get access to education. To achieve this, he launched the Liberty Schools Project which provides free education for the poor and needy children in poor communities in Obanikoro, Ikeja and Makoko areas in Lagos State. The project has been commended by multiple international organizations as impactful and efficient. Not to talk of other initiatives like free health care facilities, free legal services and social rehabilitation for the poor he helped facilitate as a private citizen. This is a service to humanity.
Under the Buhari administration, with the National Social Investments Programmes (NSIP), established in 2016 and regarded as the largest social welfare in Africa, which Vice President helped to supervise, he profoundly handled the Niger-Delta crisis debacle resulting in the Ogoni clean-up breakthrough, the sack of the then all-powerful Department of State Services (DSS) boss, Lawal Daura, he initiated for violating the sanctity of the National Assembly, the preservation of the Rule of Law, the Economic Sustainability Plan he designed for post-COVID-19 economy recovery that got Nigeria out of recession amongst others, which are his critical interventions in government, would be the highlights of his legacy when he leaves office on May 29, 2023.
Prof Osinbajo’s undiluted loyalty to his boss, President Buhari has also been nationally applauded as rare under this dispensation. Still, Vice President Osinbajo is not a self-serving public servant nor an aggressively ambitious politician. He is simply just being Yemi Osinbajo, a model of excellence for young ‘folks’ and also a change agent in the lives of Nigerians
Above all, VP Osinbajo is a 21st-century leader and statesman. When he leaves office, he would be leaving with a generational legacy of service, compassion and dedication to the people. He would leave us all with the audacity of hope.
• Popoola is a political analyst and journalist.