March 8th Initiative: The story of beneficiaries’ applause for Osinbajo on MSME’s development

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN

In this special report, a focus is given to how the associates of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, celebrating his birthday with the ‘Friends of Prof’ and ‘March 8th Initiative’ as preferred by Nigeria’s second-in-command, have, in the past years, used the opportunity to further develop the country’s Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) with financial support offered to different categories of youths as a way of promoting communal, entrepreneurial and public spirited endeavours within Nigeria, and attested to by beneficiaries, as covered by KEHINDE ADEOYE.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo flanked by beneficiaries of the March 8th Initiative, from top right clockwise: Ayodele Ajayi Joseph, Patience Udenji, Kwaghza Uchahemba, Mercy Imbor, Baoku Olusola, Ayodele Okede, Kenna Ozibem and Eniola Ojo. Photos: WM

The thirst to accentuate the Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector in Nigeria is undoubtedly a deep concern to every well meaning Nigerian, especially the current Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, who is a staunch advocate of youth development and society-friendly initiatives.

In recent times, the sector with several others have suffered a huge setback due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which has greatly affected the country’s economy. Many jobs and businesses were lost as a result of it and the standard of living of many Nigerians were greatly reduced.

It should be noted that the MSME sector contributes largely to Nigeria’s local economy. In fact, it carries 50% of the GDP if not more which further explains its indispensability and imperativeness in any thriving society.

In recognition of the above fact, this is why the Office of the Vice President in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment has taken it up to create what is called the “MSME Clinic.” It is an intuitive that allows for an enabling environment for businesses to thrive in Nigeria, which of course, is handled by the visionary Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, with 27 states covered so far.

Rejigging this Nigeria’s informal sector as a way to further encourage the players and boost participation in the sector, an award category for the programme began in 2018. The awards which usually come in eight (8) different categories cover areas such as: Agriculture, Beauty, Wellness and Cosmetics, Creative Arts, Fashion and Style, Leather Works, Manufacturing, Technology and Innovation as well as Wood Works.

This, perhaps is the motivation behind the Friends of Prof Yemi Osinbajo and his associate’s will to honour him on his birthday on the 8th of March of every year by creating an initiative that enhances the MSME sector, inspire and promote communal, entrepreneurial and public spirited endeavours within Nigeria.

Recalled that last year, 100 young entrepreneurs received business-defining grants of over N1 million each that helped them grow and advance their businesses.

The initiative continued this year with winners already emerging. Testimonies have begun to litter the social media space with a lot of them appreciating the Vice President.

This 2021 edition of the initiative expanded its reach and scope with a view to impacting better. One of the new inclusions is the recognition of health workers nationwide, who, in the face of a global pandemic, demonstrated exemplary courage, compassion, diligence, hard work and professionalism in carrying out their duties.

One of the health workers who was nominated and subsequently won in this category is Ayodele Ajayi Israel, who works at the National Polio Laboratory, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Borno State.


Appreciating the programme on his Facebook wall, Ayodele thanked the organisers of the initiative and Prof Yemi Osinbajo for the offer. He also promised not to relent in his efforts to make health care delivery accessible to all.


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He said: “To God alone be all the glory. I wish to express my gratitude to God for the privilege to serve humanity. It is a thing of joy to be selected among 33 other health workers in Nigeria for the Health Grant Reward by the Friends of Prof in the March 8th Initiative.

“I promise not to relent in making the health care delivery accessible to all. Thank you Prof Yemi Osinbajo. Thank you friends of Prof,” Ayodele said.


Under the Bold Innovation Challenge Category, Patience Udenyi also came out victoriously. She appreciated the evaluators for finding her new big idea worth rewarding.

Udenyi said: “Out of the 1,753 who were screened, only 355 persons were shortlisted as winners and I emerged one of them.

“I’m super happy that the above mentioned names found my ‘big new idea’ worth rewarding. I feel like crying! Thank you, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Thank you, ‘Friends of Prof.'”

Another beneficiary whose name is Mercy Imbor, could not hide her appreciation while sharing her testimony in a Facebook chat.

She said: “Thanks very much, sir, am one of the happiest beneficiaries, in fact, a soul is saved, I will be forever grateful. God bless Prof. If you can extend my greetings to him, and that my prayers are always with him.”

Mercy also dropped a comment on the ‘Friends of Prof’ official Facebook page.

“Wow! I just received my alert now. As e dey hot. God bless Prof and his team. You will live long, your tenth generation will reap God’s blessings as you are sowing into poor Nigerian lives. From grace to grace my prayers for you. Am blessed. Thanks once again,” Imbor wrote.

Eniola Ojo, another beneficiary also wrote on the same official Facebook page of the ‘Friends of Prof’ applauding the initiative.

She said: “I got an alert. Thank you so much for this opportunity. I really appreciate you all and this is giving me the confidence to do more.”

Kwaghza Joseph Uchachemba, who is also a winner under the “Big Idea Category” wrote: “I got my alert. Thank you, so much ‘Friends of Prof.’ I lack words to appreciate you. But God Almighty will bless you for me. Long live my Vice President. My video of appreciation coming soon.”

Kenna Ene Azige Osibem, while expressing her joy for receiving a credit alert wrote on her Facebook wall: “Thanks to ‘Friends of Prof.’ I got my alert. God bless Prof Osinbajo and may God keep him for us.”

Baoku Olusola, who was also unable to conceal his happiness after being selected for the grant thanked the Vice President and his friends.

He said: “God bless the organizers of this initiative. May God bless Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and grant him many more years on earth to fulfil all his aspirations. Am grateful for choosing me for Health Reward Grant.”


While the March 8th Initiative grant winners are still in the mood of celebration, Ayodele S. Okedele, a finalist at the recently concluded 2021 edition of the SimmonsCooper Partners advocacy development contest was also counting his gains.

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SimmonsCooper Advocacy Development (SCAD) is a competition for law undergraduates and Law School students. SCAD initiative is a brainchild of the Vice President which he designed while he was a Senior Partner at SimmonsCooper Partners. The goal of the initiative is to nurture and develop the writing and advocacy skills of law school students and undergraduates.

Ayodele, while speaking on his recent feat appreciated Vice President Osinbajo for conceiving such a wonderful idea. Ayodele noted that standing on the stage as a finalist has been one of his long-standing dreams.

According to him: “Some of the dreams I have nurtured since my toddler stage as a law student in the Faculty of Law, Lagos State University, came true. The dream is to become a SimmonsCoopers Partners Advocacy Development Contest finalist, and share the platform with nine other promising minds.”

“I can’t but thank His Excellency, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, for giving us the benefits from his genus by conceiving the idea, and the entire staff and management of SimmonsCooper seeing to its consistent execution over the years.”

Recalled that the SCAD initiative is a brainchild of Vice President Osinbajo, which he designed while he was a Senior Partner at SimmonsCooper Partners. The goal of the initiative is to nurture and develop the writing and advocacy skills of Law School students and undergraduates.

Despite Prof Osinbajo’s responsibilities and tight schedule as Vice President, he has made sure that the initiative takes place every year.

It is imperative to note that all these Osinbajo’s inspired strides, programmes and initiatives were majorly created in a bid to encourage young Nigerians and to, of course, develop their God-given talents and skills.

What a rare way to celebrate a birthday! But valued for its uncommonness, Vice President Osinbajo has institutionalised a means to better the lives of many Nigerians who wouldn’t have been able to establish their sources of livelihood as easy as it came for all the beneficiaries who testified to Osinbajo’s largeheartedness. This is laudable..

For many years to come, it will be on record that Prof. Osinbajo walked his talks as an everyday advocate of the youth, challenging them to make use of the resources available to them especially in the area of business, innovation, agriculture technology and a lot more.