Osinbajo the archetype of excellent leadership at 66

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN

By Seyi Gesinde

Every March 8 is Osinbajo Day! It is a break into a new dawn that reminds us of the profundity and humility of a leader serving in the second most powerful office in Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, a country reputable to be the most populous black nation on earth. It is a day that shows us the scriptural truism that when the righteous are in power, the people rejoice.

In the holy book, the Bible, Proverbs 29:2 says, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.” This is confirmed by people’s testimony about Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, over the years as a public servant. He is mentally sound as a Professor of Law and spirituality balanced as a Pastor of the Apostles’ dispensation!

Looking through his pattern of leadership reveals what is archetypal, that is, an original type, from which a model can be designed for public service in Nigeria. There are at least, eight of those leadership archetypes of Prof Osinbajo: he is a Strategist, no doubt. Likewise, he is a Change-Catalyst, coupled with being a Transactor and Builder.

Throughout his life as a public servant, we have seen Prof Osinbajo as an Innovator, a Processor, a Coach and a Super Communicator. His distinct archetypes are representative of the ways he has led in his past years in the most complex situations in Nigeria. Even, from records, it was gathered that in his early days in school from kindergarten, Osinbajo was a leader till he graduated from the Law Department at the prestigious University of Lagos (UNILAG).

As a leader, Vice President Osinbajo has been active and significantly involved in the plot outcome. He was able to bring people together for a common goal. He is a distinguished one with excellent traits marking him out as the leader among leaders. Why he is called a “Star Boy” is not far-fetched, it is for his charisma and personality which blow an influential air around him such that others are drawn to him with ease. His infectiousness and ability to inspire staunch loyalty as much as he too is a loyal follower even as a leader are attributes that stand him out.

Let’s further explore the unique quality of this enigmatic great leader: firstly, he is a Storyteller. As we know, historically, builders and storytellers have been in high demand. We know and still read about how Frank Lloyd Wright and Shakespeare inspired their worlds. Even in our world today, the indelible marks they left are shining as gold. Their rare genius has made their work spread. This is the same thing we are saying of Osinbajo as a leader today. He is a writer too like them.

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Another one, Prof Osinbajo is a Mediator. He has the unusual ability to mediate and diffuse conflict. This has been described as one of the most difficult and valuable soft skills one can possess. He used these skills in Nigeria’s formerly restive Niger Delta as an Acting President. He finally quenched the fire to date. He is a conflict diffuser. I don’t want to expand this piece by giving examples of his achievements — only did the Niger Delta’s in passing, but there are many other verifiable ones in the public domain, whoever is reading this and is interested in knowing them can check it all out at relevant quarters.

VP Osinbajo is also a Humanist, who can identify with people in their different areas of need. His emotional intelligence is another attribute which helps him to manage his own emotions under chaotic situations in Nigeria to lead in positive ways and to relieve the citizenry of stress. Similarly, he can communicate effectively, empathize with others and overcome challenges.

The Star Boy is a Presenter. He is a super speaker. He can win your heart easily. In the public domain, you won’t even know if he is an extrovert or an introvert, and he can even switch in-between where necessary. He is just balanced. And most importantly now, Prof Osinbajo is a Teacher! He is a Professor of Evidence. He will evidentially show you the way and this has endeared him to millions of Nigerian youths at home and abroad. His speaking and teaching skills come naturally to him, passing on his knowledge to others effortlessly.

No wonder, this prolific Nigeria’s Second-in-Command was recently described as a visionary leader who is an epitome of excellence, and a leader of great humility.

It is another champion of faith, the new Archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese of the Methodist Church Nigeria, the Most Rev’d Michael Olusegun Akinwale, who reflected on the attributes of a God’s General, Pastor (Prof) Osinbajo, during his Enthronement Service, at Methodist Cathedral of Unity, Wuse, Abuja, as he officially assumed office on Sunday, March 5, 2023. He did not mince his words, extolling the virtues of an Omolúàbí (as Yoruba elders will call an excellent one with the sterling character) as seen in the quintessential Vice President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON,

Inside his church filled to the brim, you can feel the vibes of the people agreeing with the cleric’s submission as he climbed the rostrum to give his message — the Archbishop’s attempt to acknowledge the Vice President among the congregation was followed with rousing applause as he began to introduce him.

Hear him: “We feel very delighted this morning to have the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria here with us. A pastor, a legal luminary, a man of character, decent, an epitome of excellence.

“A good visionary leader, we the Christians in this country are proud of you — very proud of you, we celebrate you. A man of great humility and a pastor to the core. Thank you for coming to honour God on this day.

“When I visited you, you promised that you will be here. You are a nobleman, a man of integrity, a man of your word, and may the good Lord continue to bless you. May your days be long. And to all your lieutenants, who have come with you, we appreciate all of you.

“The Methodist people send their greetings of love, and we pray that under your watch, this country will not disintegrate. Under your watch, the Lord will preserve this country.”

This is the gospeler’s verdict on Osinbajo’s character, which can be summarized as that, he is a man of integrity, someone whose personality is synonymous with incorrigibility and incorruptibility.

To seal it, let’s do a further check on who PYO is with someone who should know him better — people may think I am talking of his wife, but of course, this will be a daily rhyme for her to marry a good, loving, generous and considerate husband. Read what she said about him not too long ago — she went the African-Yoruba way to eulogise her better half: “Oluyemi, Oluleke, Omoluabi, Omo oko, Oninu ire, Oniwa Pele, Oniwa tutu, Ologbon, Olododo, Alaanu, I’m proud of you!” Those are Mrs Oludolapo Osinbajo’s words, the unassuming sweetheart of Oluyemi. Incidentally, she is a lawyer too.

Now, who am I talking about? That is President Muhammadu Buhari, his boss should know him better. Situating it properly, Nigeria has not produced a Vice President in its military or democratic history whose boss has ever spoken well of like what President Muhammadu, GCFR said, testifying to VP Osinbajo’s profundity.

One can remember the day he celebrated his 64th birthday two years ago, President Muhammadu Buhari, feting his deputy said he was proud to have selected VP Osinbajo as his running mate. This was how he put it: “I’m proud to have selected Osinbajo as my running mate. He has given a good account of himself since our journey began in 2015.” It is not every leader that will go overboard to extol the virtues of a subordinate.

He went further to say that “Osinbajo is not only admirably competent but also exudes confidence and passion in the performance of his job.”

He described our Star Boy as an incredibly patient politician who places Nigeria first, someone who “demonstrates remarkable intellectual and mental energy in the discharge of his duties.” What an exemplary patriot!

Even today, March 8, 2023, the President has spoken again, as he joined the entire Osinbajo family and millions of other Nigerians to celebrate Prof, wishing him another year, in good health and sound mind. President Buhari lauded the sterling service the celebrant has provided to the country, as an academic, Attorney-General of Lagos State (1997-2007) and Vice President (2015 till date).

He applauded the deft way Osinbajo, a Pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), has combined scholarship with governance, and pastoral work, commending such dedication to the younger generation whom the number two man serves as a torchbearer.

President Buhari wished the Vice President and his family a joyful celebration and greater grace ahead.

Truly, Vice President Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, has displayed true leadership devoid of Nigeria for a very long time, especially in his office as the country’s second-in-command. He has changed the identity of that office formerly seen as an uninfluential spare to one which commands a very high respect today — even that his counterpart, United States Vice President Kamala Harris, in a recent statement described PYO as an extraordinary leader. This is the end of story.

Now, in summary, the outputs of VP Osinbajo define what excellent leadership is, which is starting with being an effective leader, someone who creates an inspiring vision of the future, which he has since envisioned for a new Nigeria, as he keeps motivating and inspiring Nigerians to engage with that vision. He still manages the delivery of the vision, coaching and building a team of forward-thinking Nigerians, especially the youth for a more effective way to becoming patriots as a pivot to achieving the vision. Truly, he is a great leader!

Conclusively, here are 66 powerful toasts to an achiever, wishing the Star Boy many happy returns of today, beginning another impactful year full of wits, vigour, love, prosperity and more. Happy birthday, Prof!

Gesinde is an award-winning journalist, political scientist and social commentator.