Osinbajo: New Meaning of a Nigerian Number 2
Humility, Loyalty In Display Like Never Before
Almost from the start of his administration, President Muhammadu Buhari has been surmounting daunting challenges, all dripping in torrents with threat to sniff life out Nigeria.
The near empty treasury owing to mindless looting by officials of the preceding government, security problems worsened by the conspiratorial zeal of the Niger Delta militants to stop oil production, the unceasing terrorism in the north-east by Boko Haram, acute case of economic depression, hysteria and general hopelessness across the country had combined to make Nigeria almost ungovernable for the present government.
Endowed by an uncanny instinct for survival braced by determination and calmness, President Buhari was able to surmount all while still unrelenting in steering away the ship of state from huge tempests and tidal waves.
More importantly, the President takes pride in trudging along with a loyal and supportive Deputy, Processor Yemi Osinbajo. The truth is that President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo have created new focal lenses to glean and understand what an ideal relationship between a President and his deputy should be. At a time in the political history of Nigeria, the relationship between the President and Deputy was boisterous and less enthusiastic in which case, a sitting President must cast suspicious glances always above his shoulders to gauge his own safety.
For instance, Nigerians were treated to orgies and oddities of politics years back with former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his Deputy, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. The Obasanjo/Atiku government, which took off on a reassuring note in 1999, pioneering the ongoing democracy in Nigeria suddenly capitulated in the light of bitter rivalry between the President and the Deputy. Brazen succession battle and untamed ambition by the latter formed the roots of the unhealthy rivalry. Obasanjo and Atiku, for the greater portion of their two tenures hauled dirty brick bats at one another, both leaving sour taste in the mouths of Nigerians who yarned for better governance in the fledging democracy of their nation.
By the time Obasanjo and Atiku exited from power in 2007, it was apparent that the seed of discord had been sown in the corridors of power between the President and Deputy. The government of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was an instant victim. It did not matter that Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, Yar’Adua’s deputy was pious, un-agitated, less ambitious and visibly tamed; he earned little trust from his boss. Jonathan never enjoyed the full complement of governance in the absence of Yar’Adua. The late President left the shores of Nigeria several times failing to hand over power to his Deputy. At a point, the Secretary to the government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed became the de-facto President in the absence of Yar’Adua.
Nigeria suffered dire consequences such that the ship of state almost grinded to a halt when late President Yar’Adua took ill and was compelled to convalescence in Germany on medical treatment. Since power was never transmuted to then Vice President Jonathan, governance was ran by charlatans, opportunists and exceedingly corrupt aides who even dreamt of imposing the First Lady, Turai to take over. Providence bailed out Nigeria from the mess engendered by the horrendous circumstances.
In this era, however, President Buhari holds the credit for strengthening governance by redefining the tie between the President and Deputy, subjecting his relationship with Osinbajo to the dictate of the constitution. Both Buhari and Osinbajo have been helping the bond between them while consciously staving off any dart aimed towards casting them apart. Doing that has made them great conquerors and leaders to read like a book on how to run a Presidency devoid of suspicion and interpersonal crises.
The take home lesson in the free hand President Buhari offers to Osinbajo is that the Professor of law has also been consistently living to expectations. In addition to giving good account of himself on every task handed down to him, the Vice President has stayed clear of dirty politics and muffled ambition for self-promotion.
Nigerians have had no reason to suspect Vice President Osinbajo when President Buhari transmuted power to him in May, 2007 for a vacation in London on medical treatment. He held governance effectively as entrusted to him to the admiration of many. He demonstrated unflagging and infectious loyalty, which outlived all intrigues crafted by power mongers to make him capitulate.
Osinbajo has performed many memorable national tasks at the instance of the President with attendant huge successes. One of them was his ability to align the south-south region with the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. Taking repeated trips to the south-south region and meeting with relevant stakeholders including ex-militants with a message of hope from the government did the magic. The right contact and sincerity he demonstrated in the process were also an added advantage. He unveiled the plans by the Buhari’s government for Ogoni Clean up, construction of modular refineries in strategic areas of Niger Delta, extension of upkeeps for repentant militants and siting of different infrastructural projects for the zone. That brought stakeholders on the same page with the government. Niger Delta zone has since appreciated the essence of peace and the need to be part of governance.
What is more, drawing support from President Buhari, Osinbajo has been playing significant roles in stabilizing national economy as the Head of the Cabinet’s Economic Team. He tends a herd of cheery youths in support of the government of President Buhari with the Social Investment Programme (SIP), which offered employment opportunities to many, just as Nigeria attained a good mark on Ease of Doing Business with international recognition.
The Vice President has been serving as a nexus on political matters within the power corridors too. His seeming octopodial influence in political circles has been so beneficial to the government of President Buhari. He is one of the reasons the All Progressives Congress (APC) seems to be adjusting in finding rhythm on how to surmount its challenges ahead of 2019 general election.
Keen watchers of politics at the Presidential villa have alluded to a veiled role Prof Osinbajo played lately on deployment of legal wisdom to bail out the APC from intricate situation over leadership crises bedeviling it. Some party members are of the view that with the turn of events in APC, after the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, which President Buhari addressed, internal democracy is on the verge of being restored for new party officials to emerge. That, analysts contend, would have placed APC on top, ready to neutralise any inglorious plots from the opposition against 2019.
In essence, the pair of Buhari and Osinbajo in the presidency is a good study on how to keep governance afloat with delicate balance maintained in right places.
*Oladeji Ayokunle, freelancer, public affairs analysts wrote in from the University Of Lagos.