By Babatunde Obele
Speaking during one of the public events he attended at the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Conference Centre in Abuja, just after the historic victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, made one of the most profound statements which helps explain the outworking of destiny in an individual’s life. Telling the story of his life, especially how Providence, through seemingly uncoordinated events, played a key role for him to become the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he said that one of the major lessons he has learnt through that process is that “when one genuinely cares about the need to serve humanity beyond self in the area of one’s capacity, God creates an opportunity for such a person to serve.”
While the central theme of his message on that occasion focussed on his life’s trajectory; from his days of humble beginning to the time when he became the Vice President, it also had a compelling message to millions of our citizens who have been desiring to see better socio-economic realities within our nation. That message gave credence to the fact that Providence has a way of ensuring that the silent aspirations of people of goodwill are given expression through events that are often beyond human interferences. Of course, political actors and their strategists will always strategize to ensure that they hold on to power, but there are such times in the evolution of nations when Providence intervenes in choosing the man of destiny whose chief mission is to render selfless service for the common good.
For Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, service above self has remained his life’s philosophy, a disposition that has defined his admirable progression in life. From his time as a law lecturer, rising till he became a professor of law in the Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, to the time he served as an Adviser (Legal Advice and Litigation) to the then Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Bola Ajibola, to the time he served as a Staff Member, United Nations Operations in Somalia, Justice Division, to the time he became the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Lagos State and even to becoming the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, this philosophy has remained his guiding principle.
Ever since he became the number two citizen in our nation, he has maintained those attributes that have distinguished him as a man of destiny. This is seen, especially in the gracious way he wields power with alluring humility and exemplary focus. He has also demonstrated with his life’s trajectory that spirituality, finding expression through law and politics fundamentally transforms the human condition for good. To date, he maintains this unique philosophy and poise. Little wonder he is being projected by Providence to handle even greater responsibilities in service to our nation.
Every student of divinity, who has given some serious reflections on the way Providence directs the affairs of men would agree to the fact that while it is true that all men are created equal, there are some amongst them who have gained the employ of divinity to influence the destiny of others and such men are often driven by events influenced by the undercurrents of times and seasons, usually leading to positions of greater selfless service for the common good. Nicholas Sparks, the American Novelist, rightly observed that “there are winds of destiny that blow when we least expect them. Sometimes they gust with the fury of a hurricane, sometimes they barely fan one’s cheek. But the winds cannot be denied, bringing as they often do, a future that is impossible to ignore.”
That wind of destiny is blowing across our nation, redefining our political dynamics especially as the countdown to 2023 begins— a year that many pundits have predicted to be a decisive year in the historical evolution of the Nigerian nation. For everyone who is concerned about the present and future of the Nigerian nation, the year 2023 presents a remarkable opportunity for Nigerian citizens to make a critical decision that will influence the course of Nigeria’s democratic experience and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo’s personality distinguishes him as a man of destiny for our nation at such a time as this.
For a fact, the man has demonstrated that he is a personality and leader not swayed by extraneous emotionalism and parochial cant. Besides the statutory executive functions of the vice president, which includes participation in all cabinet meetings and, by statute, membership in the National Security Council, the National Defence Council, Federal Executive Council, and the Chairman of National Economic Council, he also handles other specific duties that Mr. president, whom he enjoys a harmonious working relationship with, assigns to him. Serving as Acting President, when President Muhammadu Buhari officially handed over the reins of governance to him, before proceeding to the United Kingdom on medical vacation on January 19, 2017, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo acquitted himself extremely well, to the surprise and admiration of many.
Many may have forgotten that Prof. Yemi Osinbajo’s shuttle diplomacy in the Niger Delta became a soothing balm that helped calmed nerves and restored stability within that region at the time the volatility was negatively affecting our national revenue, and the strategic roles he played in bringing an end to the incessant communal wars between Cross River and Ebonyi States, between Ebonyi and Benue States and between Cross River and Akwa Ibom States during those periods when he was in serving as Acting President, but these are facts that set him apart as a man for our nation as we go through this transition period.
So, as the All-Progressives Congress (APC) go into their primary in no distant time, one can’t but pray that God grants all the delegates the courage to rise above the temptation to settle for self-gratification, consider the interest of the nation and choose Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as their presidential flag bearer, — a man of destiny for such a time as this.
• Obele, a sociologist, write in from Abuja.