Modelled pro-people approach while acting as President
Indications are that the present spate of protests across the country is a concern to the citizens at home and in the diaspora, especially how the protests and the protesters are being handled by their respective governments, at both Local and State level; the Federal levels.
Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has continually appeared as a model especially during his days as Acting President of the country when his boss, President Muhammad Buhari, was on a medical leave.
Osinbajo, with a deep sense of conflict resolution, has doused a lot of tension on several occasions across every of the geopolitical zones in the country.
On February 7, 2021 precisely, Prof. Osinbajo, as Acting President, responded to protesters who protested against hardship and poor governance in the country saying, “We hear you loud and clear”.
As a good listener and observer, Osinbajo said he had gone round the country and the complaints of the people on the economy were similar to what the protesters complained about. He reassured the people that the government remained committed to turning around the trend and placing Nigeria on the path of growth.
In what seemed unusual, Ag. President Osinbajo on February 9, 2017, commended protesting members of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress as well as their civil society allies for taking what he called the “laudable campaign” to the seat of power on behalf of Nigerians. He affirmed that democratically elected government must constantly report to the people and display accountability. He added saying “The present administration will look into the demands made by the workers with a view to taking positive actions on them”.
Giving audience to the protesters, Osinbajo chose about 20 representatives to meet with him at the Presidential Villa. Another unique style imbibed by Prof. Osinbajo in taking solutions to confront the problems.
Evidently, the bulk of the issues confronting the Niger – Delta were solved when he visited the region to fashion out ways of settling the age-old enmeshment.
Furthermore, while still Ag. President, he visited Bayelsa State with the aim of finding lasting solutions to the crisis in the Niger Delta region. Solutions that could bring improved oil production and give birth to new modular refineries in the region.
On February 24, 2017, Osinbajo, a man who is loved by many, got overwhelming applauses from scores of local operators formerly referred to as illegal refiners, for the proposed liberalisation of modular refineries in the Niger Delta.
The group said, “We want to commend the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo for the series of recent firsts in the attempts to put in place sustainable peace, development and local participation of youths and other stakeholders in the region. It is on record that the recent visits and interaction between the Acting President and the stakeholders in Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers States have opened positive tidings to the people of the region and in particular, the local refinery operators.” The group through their spokesperson continued, “The visits have also led to the unveiling of the 20-point agenda aimed at instituting permanent peace in the oil-producing communities through proper local participation in ownership and production of crude oil.
Students of history will recall how Prof. Osinbajo quelled and then settled the rift between the Gbagyi people in Abuja and the Nigerian Army.
The villagers claimed that the army forcefully took their land, so they blocked the road which led to the airport. Prof Osinbajo ran into the crowd and even though it was against security advice, he got down from his vehicle and approached the protesters. He assured them that he would do all within his powers. This happened on 7 May 2019.
By 13th May 2019, the VP had called all the Gbagyi leaders to his office to settle the dispute. This is the last we heard of this impending doom.
The crisis in Southern Kaduna is a peculiar one. An age-old issue that has troubled the state. During his time as acting President, Osinbajo ensured he nipped it in the bud.
He called for an all-inclusive meeting with community and religious leaders from Southern Kaduna all in attendance.
Present at the meeting is the Kaduna Governor Nasir El-Rufai, leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) and representatives of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN).
As an exemplary leader, he detailed the history of the crisis and proffered solutions that will resolve the misunderstanding. All sides agreed to their roles and also agreed to work together. That settled the rift for a long time.
Hate speeches and lies have been with us since the beginning of time but timely interventions have stemmed the destruction that comes with such hate.
As acting President, Osinbajo met with foremost leaders from the north to discuss divisive behaviour.
”I want to ensure that there is no doubt at all that it is the resolve of the government that none will be allowed to get away with making speeches that can cause sedition or violence because when we make these kinds of pronouncement and do things that can cause violence or destruction of lives and property, we are no longer in control. Those who make those speeches are no longer in control.