By Oluwafemi Popoola
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s recent visit to the United States on Climate Change-related issues was more than a success. The visit meant a lot to every Nigerian home and abroad. The memory of the visit will linger on for many years as Nigeria drifts into the Just Energy Transition process.
I recall a similar visit Osinbajo made to the US in 2018. It was this time, a tour to Silicon Valley, regarded as the headquarters of some leading global technology companies, on a collaborative investment drive. The VP led a government delegation comprised of some members of the newly inaugurated presidential Advisory Group on Technology and Creativity.
There in Silicon Valley, Osinbajo met with Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, and other top executives. The VP showcased the progress made in the country’s technology, innovation and creative space, as well as the country’s tech sector’s potential. Osinbajo also studied how the Tech Industry in Silicon Valley, California, helped transform the US into the world leader in IT and how he could replicate this by transforming Nigeria into an IT hub.
The aftermath of the above meeting has turned out to be a blessing to Nigeria, most especially among the Nigerian youth. The Osinbajo US trip in 2018 brought many good tidings. To the curious minds, presently about six Nigerian startups have attained billion-dollar status. Holy Moses! And as of 2021, more than six such companies had been named Unicorns – a company that is worth over a billion dollars.
Professor Osinbajo’s 2018 US trip, to sum it up, succeeded in revealing to the world the gold mine that lies deep inside the youth of Nigeria. This can only happen when you have a leader that will go to different lengths to showcase you to the world.
Again, to talk about his just-concluded trip to the US on Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan agenda is to delve into hordes of narratives. From a debt relief proposal, Osinbajo tabled to the Western leaders, under the guise of a Debt-For-Climate-Change Deal, to an unusual show of brilliance and to the rampaging feeling of hope the trip meant for a better Nigeria.
Earlier, the Vice President had about three weeks ago declared that Africa’s increasing energy gaps require collaboration to take ownership of the continent’s transition pathways, stressing that the action should be decisive and urgent. The Nigerian government, thereby sought $10 billion for the initial package to commence the transition process.
ALSO READ: US VP Harris lauds Osinbajo’s on climate change, calls Nigeria’s VP an ‘extraordinary leader
This, however, reinforced the need for Osinbajo to lead a delegation of Federal officers to the US to meet with Western leaders given Nigeria’s current lack of funds to push through the process. Nigeria will, undoubtedly, require investment support for the implementation of the Energy Transition Plan.
The central agenda of the trip may have been on climate change and how Nigeria as a big brother nation in the continent would take a lead in the energy transitioning process but the side attractions of the whole trip left so much to be desired among Nigerians.
VP Osinbajo leveraged the opportunity to not only make a strong case for the African continent but again showed to the world the intellectual capacity of African leaders which he displayed convincingly.
His message was very simple and direct; forgive the debts of Nigeria and other developing countries and let’s invest the money in putting in place necessary infrastructures that will hasten the investments in the Energy Transition project as he pushed forward the novel Debt-For-climate Deal.
Osinbajo understood the staggering amount of African countries’ indebtedness to European nations. And debt, naturally, is a major obstacle to progress reasons Osinbajo’s recommendation is the best for Africa. Justifying the rationale behind such a debt swap deal, the Vice President submitted that the commitment to it would “increase the fiscal space for climate-related investments and reduce the debt burden for participating developing countries.
What this means is that if the deal is accepted, it will essentially cancel billions of Nigeria’s foreign debts over time, same for other African countries. This is huge!
Should I also mention the Vice President’s colourful presentation at the White House that left the US Vice President, Kamala Harris humbled and calm?
Both the US Vice President and VP Osinbajo met at the Ceremonial Office at the White House and both made remarks to the press before the closed session where they discussed bilateral issues.
After the VP’s historic presentation at the White House, Harris had just seen Barack Obama, Justine Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron in one single body given Osinbajo’s articulate speech. She, afterwards, commended his leadership peculiarities and called him an “extraordinary” leader.
Her words: “You have been an extraordinary leader on this issue and I noticed this is something you feel very strongly about and you have been very adamant about the role Nigeria is playing in addressing this crisis that faces us all.”
These are no extravagant praises. They are splashes of evidence of the creative magnetism of Osinbajo’s personality, leadership acumen and rare confidence among world leaders. VP Harris had a first-hand experience of it.
To put it in proper perspective, watching Osinbajo deliver his speech alongside VP Harris was a moment of pride for many Nigerians at home and abroad. Kamala Harris must have felt the charming engagingness and intellectual seductiveness of Osinbajo.
Professor Osinbajo is very unique in all forms of leadership. He is a born genius. No wonder everywhere he goes, he is lauded and garlanded for his virtues.
The world recognizes the capacity of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo even, US Vice President Kamala Harris has attested to it.
Osinbajo is a rare asset and one of Africa’s best brains.
What the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) delegates caused Nigerians to miss is huge and costly. It calls for a serious national lamentation. His outstanding show on US soil is a reminder of the enormity of the loss we suffered as a nation during the APC National Convention in June of this year, 2022.
There, Osinbajo lost his presidential bid. The majority thought the VP lost that night but Osinbajo never lost. I believe it is a divine arrangement for a series of events to happen. It is not over for Nigeria and Professor Osinbajo.
The country may be seriously in need of leadership in 2023, but before we get to that bridge, here is a salute to a patriot and an exemplar of success, Professor Yemi Osinbajo! And I ask again when next is the Vice President visiting the US? A good turn deserves another.
• Popoola is a political analyst and news aggregator.