By Wale Adeduro
Over the past years, Nigeria has been confronted with a barrage of challenges such as the covid-19 pandemic, oil price decline, inflation, and rising rates of unemployment. In addition to these is insecurity brought about by the increase in the rate of banditry and terrorism in some parts. All of these have contributed negatively to slowing down the economy and have shaken the faith of many in the ability of the country to survive and thrive. However, despite all these, Nigeria has stayed afloat and remained stable for the better part.
The country is once again on another crucial leap that will make or mar its journey to the actualization of its promised future of greatness. This journey is filled with uncertaintiesand even anxieties. The effect and the consequences of a wrong decision in electing a president come 2023 will go a long way to shape the next generations.
In earnest, the march is seriously on as far as who will become the next president. Nigerians, once more, have an opportunity and a chance to elect a leader that will build on the legacies of the past years while aggressively confronting the daunting task of defining a new future for the country.
A future that is shaped by the strengths of the collective will and not by the weaknesses of its existing fault lines. What is therefore needed is a president poised to confront the weakness of the past with the strength of a shared future, a president that will respond to the yearnings of the rising youth population who are desirous to integrate themselves into the global market space of talent and innovation.
Vice president Yemi Osinbajo stands firmly in that gap, to link the past to the future and close the dots of a collective lapse. Prof. Yemi Osinbajo comes with a complete sense of stability and accountability in governance. One thing is clear throughout his public service career, Prof Osinbajo has sought to identify current and impending problems in society and propose solutions to them by way of public policy.
Despite having to navigate through the web of politics and governments, vice president Yemi Osinbajo has always made the impact of his proposed policies his focal point with attendant benefits for all. Throughout his public service life, whether as a lecturer, attorney general, vice president, or acting president, Prof. Osinbajo has demonstrated uncommon virtues, morals, and dedication to the Nigerian state.
His ambitions are not personal, rather they are for the common good of the people. Confidence in Professor Osinbajo’s capability to deliver great service at present is based on fundamental issues of his past accomplishments and previous services record which are anchored on his education, his character, his competencies, and his can-do spirit, all demonstrated throughout his public service career.
Vice president Yemi Osinbajo has proven to be a man of knowledge, ranging from the time he was appointed the Attorney General to the time he was elected the vice-president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Given his track record, it is evident that running to become the president is to a large extent a desire for service to his country. It can be recalled that when he served as Attorney General of Lagos State, Prof. Osinbajo was credited with undertaking far-reaching significant judicial reforms in Lagos State, addressing critical areas such as judges’ recruitment, Re-numeration, training, and discipline among several others.
On his competencies, it is very clear that Prof. Osinbajo is capable and more than competent to handle the office of president. This is with regards to all the remarkably good works he has done in previous appointments, and how he has handled his current responsibilities as the Vice President of Nigeria without scandals or conflicts, either with his direct principal or within the established leadership structure.
Looking back, when the vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo was appointed Attorney General of Lagos State in June 1999, he initiated the reform process of the entire judiciary, relying on strong support from the state governor. As head of a justice policy committee set up by the Governor to review the entire legal system of Lagos State, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo commissioned a widely publicized study that showed the judicial system to be suffering from rampant corruption and severe backlogs in the adjudication of cases. The findings and recommendations of that committee’s report, he is on record to have ensured its full implementation.
In his current role as the vice president, his contributions and specific interventions in fostering national development can be discussed within three broad frameworks, and these are first legal and constitutional interventions, second the economic development and growth interventions, and the third social impact interventions.
Under the Legal and Constitutional interventions, it is on record that the vice president led the efforts that culminated in the resolution of the EndSars Protest which was the nationwide protest that threatened the entire fabric of our society. The vice president brought about the idea of judicial panels in all states of the federation to deal with cases of police brutality.
This was adopted by State governors at the National Economic Council. Also, the vice president led the charge and has always stood for the rule of law and in the interest of all Nigerians, regardless of ethnicity. In his capacity as then Acting President, he defended the constitution by firing the then former Director-General of the States Security Service who allowed officers of the SSS to violate the sanctity of the National Assembly and violated the Nigerian constitution. Acting President Osinbajo defended the constitution and described the invasion as an assault on Nigeria’s democracy that should not be tolerated. Also, vice president Osinbajo saved the party, APC, from litigation by suggesting APC EXCO members become Caretakers.
Within the framework of economic development and growth interventions, it is on record that the vice president provided the needed push which aided the process of making farmers and livestock herders have more access to government support, and he enabled the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) as well as interventions in Farmer-Herder Conflicts.The NLTP project was centered on providing land for livestock farmers.
The government launched the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), an initiative whose sole objective is to improve livestock farming by providing land for ranching. The NLTP is a program conceived by the National Economic Council under the Chairmanship of the Vice-President Prof. Yemi Osibanjo.
In the same vein, the vice president worked assiduously toward ensuring the Ease of Doing Business, with the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council inaugurated by President Buhari in August 2016 and the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES) which has resulted in Nigeria moving up 39 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings since 2016.
In the last three years, Nigeria has twice been adjudged one of the 10 Most Improved Economies in the Rankings. In the area of enabling Micro Small and Medium Scale businesses (MSME) to grow, the vice president has ensured that MSME Clinics have been held in 27 States across the country including the FCT.
The federal government under the scheme has also launched Shared Facilities for MSMEs in some states which are to ensure that MSMEs without the financial capacity to own their equipment and the opportunity to go into a fully equipped cluster-style facility to pay a token to use such equipment. Over 400,000 MSMEs have so far participated in the MSME clinics nationwide. About 300,000 new business names have been registered by the Cooperate Affairs Commission (CAC) at a reduced 50% price of N5000, down from the normal N10, 000.
On the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) the vice president chairing this strategic forum was instrumental in ensuring that Nigeria was able to exit recession faster than anticipated. The ESP has been able to save up to 1 million jobs and prevented the close-down of at least 150,000 small businesses. Several beneficiaries have emerged from various tracks such as the Payroll Support Track. The vice president launched the ESP Cash Transfer Scheme facilitated through a wholly technology-based approach called the Rapid Response Register with plans to give one million households COVID-19 N5000 monthly Cash Transfer for 6 months.
Furthermore, the vice president’s involvement in technology development and TECH Space access brought about the following landmark achievements. First, Google Inc. July 2020 announced plans to establish its first Google Launchpad Space outside the United States in Lagos, Facebook, in September 2020 made public its decision to open an office in Lagos as part of its planned expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa and HUAWEI, the biggest mobile manufacturer promised the Vice President that the company will position Nigeria as a technology center for the African continent and give more jobs to young Nigerians.
The vice president’s painstaking efforts have led to Energizing Economies and Energizing Education through the provision of solar power to markets around the country such as Ariaria in Aba, Sabon Gari in Kano, and Sura in Lagos, as part of the energizing economies initiative of the Rural Electrification Agency. Professor Osinbajo also commissioned solar power plants in Universities such as Alex Ekwueme University, in Ebonyi, also Bayero University in Kano. He also led the effort by canvassing for a seamless transition from gas to cleaner ways of energy for Nigeria and other African countries. He has also spoken on several occasions against the defunding of gas projects by international finance cooperation. He believes that Nigeria’s rich deposit of gas should be considered first as a source of energy before we transition to cleaner energy
Within the framework of social interventions and impact, the vice president leads the National Social Investment Programmes – NSIPs under his office with over 12million direct beneficiaries. The Homegrown School Feeding Program (HGSFP) in 35 states feeds about a 9.9million children with more than 107,000 cooks engaged. Over 500,000 graduates benefitted from the N-Power scheme while over a 2.3million market women, traders, artisans, and farmers across all 36 states of the country and FCT are registered under the Government Enterprise & Empowerment Programme, (GEEP). In addition to these, about 3million poor and vulnerable households have registered on National Social Register and more than 1million families are currently benefiting from Condition Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme.
Lastly, on eth Niger Delta New Vision, the vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has embarked on a peacekeeping mission across the Niger Delta states engaging in strategic engagements with stakeholders and people in the region to ensure that peace and stability are maintained. This ended the series of pipeline explosions, restored the maximum oil productivity, and helped terminate the recession.
These efforts also resulted in several development and social interventions to improve the well-being of the people. One of such is the take-off of the Nigerian Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State. The University was approved in January 2018 by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to commence undergraduate degree programs effective the 2017/18 session and commenced academic activities on April 12, 2018. President Buhari approved 5 billion Naira in take-off grant for the Maritime University.
Having come to this length, it is important to acknowledge that several factors stand as contending issues of debate and which pose grave concerns to every right-thinking Nigerian desirous for s new phase and leadership in the mold that vice president Osinbajo is capable of offering. These factors even though are primordial but constitute a barrier to the attainment of the desired progress come 2023. These are regional considerations, religious bias, and rotational permutations. It is the considered opinion of many well-meaning and right-thinking citizens that these sentiments should be shelved for the sake of having a president that will meet and exceed the development and growth expectations of every citizen, regardless of age, religion, or ethnic background.
The policies, actions, and initiatives of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo in the public sector have greatly shaped social, economic, and political development in Nigeria. A close look at some of the initiatives and policies championed by him during his public career, spanning from Attorney General of Lagos State to Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, including his short stint as Acting President, shows several significant milestones, positive outcomes, and impacts.
It is thus, based on the interest of the Nigerian state and the progress so greatly desired that all hands must be on deck to leverage the antecedents, achievements, and promise of good leadership as the pivot for vice president Osinbajo to secure the mandate of every Nigerian as president. It is expected that the attendant impact his leadership interventions will have on the public space and in setting Nigeria on the right track will benefit the country now and in many years to come.
*Dr Adeduro is a Productivity Consultant.