By Jude Zoho
When Ronald Reagan invoked ‘a shining city on a hill’ or George H.W Bush “a thousand points of light,” their words were engraved on the public’s consciousness as signatures to their personal beliefs and a catalyst for political action.
All through the year, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s messages have consistently aligned with this administration’s broad goals, reflecting his personality and rhetorical expertise.
His speeches are always tailored to inspire and unite our county, revealing our challenges, hopes, dreams and temperature as a nation, as much as they do the wisdom and perspective of the leader speaking them.
Presidential speeches are often remembered for one great phrase, memorable line, or oratorical flourish that makes its way into the history books; rather they should be seen as more than collections of memorable words – in fact, as documents of their time and place. This year, Vice President Osinbajo touched every nook and cranny of Nigeria and beyond, spreading messages of hope and consolidation to the people and the international community. These speeches have become much more than words and are worthy of holding unto and it is significant to put the spotlight on these expressions as we yearn for a better country and a prosperous new year ahead.
But beyond his speeches and remarks during his visitations and attendance at events, there is the other aspect of Prof. Osinbajo’s engagements both as Nigeria’s quintessential Vice President and a revered Man of God, that portrayed his personality and disposition to life– his body language. There were occasions where Prof. Osinbajo’s presence alone defined his character, the focus of the administration, carrying messages, stronger, louder and with more conviction than words could portray.
FIRST QUARTER, 2019
Typical of an electioneering season, the Vice President started the year 2019 (continuing from where he stopped in 2018, campaigning for the APC ahead of the 2019 general elections) with visits to important stakeholders ahead of the general elections, One of such visits was a courtesy call on the Palace of the Gbagii of Saki, Oyo state. There he reassured the people of Oke-ogun about President Buhari’s plan to bring more development to the town – from power, to the trans-border market, roads, railways and the establishment of a federal university or polytechnic.
On January 13, He joined in the annual tradition of remembering and honoring our departed Armed Forces heroes. At the interdenominational church service for 2019 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration, he thanked God for giving us men and women ready to obey the call to fight and if need be, die for our country. He sent his gratitude and prayers to the fallen heroes’ loved ones, assuring that they did not die in vain.
On 15th January, the Vice President joined President Buhari, service chiefs and other dignitaries to lay wreaths at the National Arcade, at an event that climaxed the 2019 Armed Forces Remembrance Day event.
The month of February, for the Vice President and his team will go down in history as a miraculous month because of a major event that happened in the course of the month.
Precisely on February 2, in Kabba, Kogi State in continuation of the electioneering campaigns, a chopper carrying the Vice President and some of his aides crash landed with no casualties recorded, to the glory of God. Few minutes after the incident, Prof. Osinbajo, in his characteristic manner, went to communities in parts of the state, carrying his party’s message of Next Level.
As he did in Kogi State, the Vice President, during the period under review, spent most of his time on the road campaigning and reaching out to Nigerians at all levels with reassurances of a better country in the second tenure of the Buhari administration under the Next Level agenda.
Prof. Osinbajo’s major feature in the month of March (after the success at the general elections) comprised thank-you meetings with campaign groups, other post elections activities amongst others.
The Month started with the PMB/PYO volunteers’ dinner in Abuja. There he observed a moment of silence in honor of the supporters who lost their lives during the course of the campaign; and recalled the past 4 years of governance under President Buhari’s leadership and what needs to be done moving forward.
“For many of us, as we went around the country, we realized the tremendous amount of work that we need to do and our capacity to do so much work and what our people need”.
Shortly after, he inaugurated the Policies and Programmes Audit Committee, a group tasked to take stock of efforts thus far and make preparations for the administration’s second term, as well as identify and highlight the residue of work and challenges that may militate against their successful implementation. The committee which consists of members of the cabinet and stakeholders was charged by the VP to be devoted and ensure objective and very critical analysis and reports.
Another prominent feature for the VP during the period is the 11th Bola Ahmed Tinubu Colloquium themed ‘Work For People’, held On March 28, in Abuja. He highlighted some of the government’s efforts in delivering its promised mandate to the people of Nigeria and the importance of being of great service. He also spoke about Tinubu’s rare leadership and doggedness and his commitment to transformative leadership.
“The next level promises to be exciting, though a bit challenging as possibly where we are coming from. But as the president has said repeatedly, we have no other focus but the progress of this country. And we will ensure that step-by-step, we get to where it is that we promised to take this country to.”
He was also conferred with the prestigious rank of Life Bencher at the Body of Benchers Award ceremony. He used the opportunity to salute his colleagues, commending them for internalizing the application of the rule of law in the most difficult circumstances, standing for the helpless through advocacy and called on them to continue to be transparent and accountable in all.
On the first day of the month of April, Prof attended the 50th Convocation Ceremony of the University of Lagos where he delivered the lecture of the day. The event which the VP referred to as a homecoming made him reminisce about his early days as a lecturer in the faculty of law and how the environment shaped his ideologies and beliefs.
“The dynamism and immeasurable potential of humankind in forms that the most crucial pillar of government economic policies must be on how to consistently improve the quality of Human Resources.”
Another prominent feature of the Vice President during the period under review is the combined 2015, 2016 and 2017 President’s National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Honors Awards ceremony, where he talked about the essence of responsibility and continuous sacrifice as a recipe for leadership.
Ahead of the democracy day and swearing in of government officials, VP was at the induction of new and returning governors at the State House in Abuja. He asked the governors to be steadfast and effective in solving problems for their people; imploring them to welcome more innovative and inclusive measures to bring about economic development in their states.
“States must in a few years, earn more in IGR. We must work effectively to collect VAT and increase our agricultural output, work with the federal government to make broadband infrastructure available all over the country so our young people anywhere in the country can do jobs from anywhere”
When the first ever Nigeria-U.K Economic Development Forum happened on the 30th of April, the VP made it clear that the long standing relationship between Nigeria and the U.K indicates that the current level of trade and investments between both countries is materially below potential than the relationship suggests, given that Africa only represents 2% of the U.K’s trade volume. According to him, the government is committed to improving Nigeria’s competitiveness and making our country one of the easiest places to do business globally.
“The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) under my leadership has made significant progress in reducing bottlenecks, eliminating redundancies and increasing transparency across government ministries, departments and agencies.”
SECOND QUARTER, 2019
The main engagements of the Vice President in the second quarter of the year characterized his meeting with his American counterpart, Mike Pence, his messages to young Nigerians at the 2019 MSMEs Awards amongst others.
An important engagement of the Vice President in the month of May was the May Day celebration – a day set aside to celebrate workers and their rights globally. In his message to workers nationwide, he assured them that government will continue to provide an enabling environment for high productivity, industrial peace and harmony, as well as a congenial atmosphere for effective collective bargaining amongst trade unions and employees while also protecting fundamental rights.
Entrepreneurship is one of the most important input in the economic development of any country – and this growth is the outcome of purposeful human activity. It was no surprise when VP Osinbajo announced that the FG will be setting up an entrepreneurship bank at the National Youth Entrepreneurship Empowerment Summit. At this event, 10 entrepreneurs went home with N1 million each and 12 months personal mentoring programme under the Tony Elumelu Foundation, courtesy of the Federal Government.
“We truly believe our nation is as strong and prosperous as those of you in this room, your skills, talents and hardwork are what nations require to become great. And so, we are deliberate in evolving plans, programmed and initiatives to promote youth development.”
In the month of June, Prof. Osinbajo led other dignitaries to the Eid-Fitr homage to President Buhari. Prof Osinbajo delivered a remarkable speech touching on why the rhetoric of division must not supersede that of unity. There he commended all leaders for making the annual gathering a tradition regardless of their religion, marking it as a demonstration to Nigerian people that this country is united and those who stoke up embers if division would not be allowed to do so.
“We may be different in our faiths, different in our ethnicities but we are one people, the Nigerian people are strong and united.”
Later in June, Vice President Osinbajo met with his United States’ counterpart at the White House, Mike Pence, during his visit to the country. Both leaders discussed important issues of importance to their countries.
Earlier on arrival in the US, Prof. Osinbajo, at an interactive session at the Council on Foreign Relations, in New York, discussed Nigeria’s economic prospects, population and other challenges facing Nigeria and Africa. He said the challenges may be huge but the prognosis is generally good. In his view, they present excellent opportunities for local and foreign participation in this final frontier for groundbreaking investments and innovation. From agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure, power, security, technology and entertainment, no stones were left unturned.
Vice President Osinbajo attended two armed forces events, 2019 Nigerian Army Day on the 6th of July and Passing out Parade of Direct Short Service Course 28/2019 of the Nigerian Air Force on the 10th of July. At both events, he stated the successes recorded by the Army and Air Force in their fight against Boko Haram, as well as the role of innovation and technology in combating crime and need for community policing.
On July 27, Prof. Osinbajo featured, along other world leaders and stakeholders at the Tony Elumelu Foundation Forum where he gave inspiring notes in the journey of entrepreneurship and how to conquer the challenges of their environments. He praised Tony Elumelu for focusing on what really matters – the youth and their dreams and his commitment to helping the next generation realize their dreams.
“Young African entrepreneurs will change narrative about the continent”
The 2nd National Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Awards was the main feature in the Vice President’s engagements for the month of August. At a ceremony held in Abuja, he congratulated the awardees for their innovation, hard work and commitment to vision. He said Nigeria’s future will depend on what young businesses become, promising that the factors required to make business succeed include friendliness of regulatory environment, capital availability, infrastructure, power and broadband connectivity will be made possible.
THIRD QUARTER, 2019
As activities of the began to slow down, Prof. Osinbajo’s commitment to national unity, economic prosperity featured in some of the engagements that characterized his activities in the last quarter of the year.
In the month of September, in line with the resolution of the National Economic Council, which he chairs, Vice President Osinbajo, in Adamawa State, unveiled the National Livestock Transformation Plan. In his remark at the occasion, he highlighted the importance of the initiative and how it can solve problems of cattle grazing and destruction of farmlands. He said the scheme also represents a practical response to the pressures on water and pasture by forces of climate change. He also cleared the air about the misconstrued narrative of RUGA, an idea launched by the Ministry of Agriculture, stating that the NLTP are endorsed by all the governors and can only be implemented with full participation and consent of the states.
He also attended the Presidential Appreciation Dinner on the 12th of September, where he spoke about the need for the media to be more responsible with their work of reporting the news/stories, as well as going the extra mile for fact finding.
At the 59th Independence Day Interdenominational Church Service on the 29th of September, Prof Osinbajo declared that “God Almighty has taken away the protection of the enemies of this nation. He has taken away their powers, the noise we hear, the turbulence we experience, are the last gasps of a defeated foe. The day of freedom is at the door.”
In October, Prof. Osinbajo started off the month with his remarks at the 50th Independence Day Dinner & Gala on the first of October. Here he showcased what makes us unique as Nigerians, calling it the “Nigerian Swag”. He referenced our music, sense of fashion, and Nigerians exceling in sports.
One of the attributes of the Nigerian people is the uniquely confident way we stand out – what many call the Nigerian swag.
With dance, whether it is skelewu, shakitibobo, shaku-shaku or zanku, every Nigerian can dance and where necessary “Gbe body e” pic.twitter.com/Y8o4VRsrrp
— Prof Yemi Osinbajo (@ProfOsinbajo) October 2, 2019
On the 4th of October, Prof Osinbajo’s remarks at Island Club Anniversary Lecture commemorating Nigeria’s 59th Independence focused on the subject matter, “The whole is only as great as the sum of its part”. He called for strengthening of states, he stated that “building stronger States means ensuring the devolution of more power to the States, enabling them to control more of their resources and make more of their own administrative decisions, such as the creation of Local Governments, the establishment of State and community police forces, as well as, State correctional facilities; creation of special courts and tribunals of equivalent jurisdiction to the High Courts. The point I am making is that States must have more powers and more rights.”
He further on carried the message of Nigeria’s economic prospects to the Nordic-African business summit in Oslo, Norway. At a business round table event, Prof. Osinbajo talked about Nigeria’s position on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, government’s efforts in technology, renewable energy, agriculture, transportation and more. The aim was to facilitate direct foreign investments to the country and establish a stronger bilateral relationship between both countries.
Also during the period under review, Prof. Osinbajo gave insights about the dynamics of crime in the country at a retreat for strategic leadership officers of the Nigerian Police Force, in Lagos. He emphasized on funding, limited manpower profile, professional capacity gaps and issues arising from the relationship between the Police and the citizens as challenges that need to be addressed.
“You must prevent misguided ministry from destroying a great institution responsible for upholding fairness and justice.”
He ended his engagements for October at the 60th Anniversary of Western Nigeria Television which was the pioneer television station in Africa.
The main features in the month of November were the Diaspora Investment forum, the Cuppy Foundation event and the education summit, all aimed at giving hope and opportunities for Nigerians across diverse backgrounds.
Prof. Osinbajo spoke about mobilizing resources for both Foreign Direct Investment and Portfolio Investment at the 2nd Nigeria Diaspora Investment Summit.
At the Cuppy Otedola’s Gold Gala In Support Of Save The Children’s Work in Nigeria, the Vice President talked about the need for more charitable causes to help solve the huge problems of extreme poverty, healthcare and education of children. “Significance Is neither wealth or fame, it the reward that history bestows on men and women who invest their wealth, talents and even their lives, to bring justice, freedom, life and livelihoods to millions of the vulnerable, oppressed, persecuted or poor,” he added.
At the 2019 Nigeria Education Conference themed “Education for Sustainable Livelihoods”, Prof. Osinbajo spoke about how a focus on education for the Nigerian child can alleviate poverty.
“Education reduces economic inequalities. It was found that if workers from poor and rich backgrounds received the same education, the disparity between the two in terms of their inequality in earning is decreased by as much as almost 40%.”
The main feature of the Vice President’s engagements in the month of December was his participation at the Sixth Assembly of the Forum for Promoting Peace, in Abu Dhabi, where he delivered a keynote address. The Vice President commended the UAE for designating 2019, the Year of Tolerance, and facilitating the forum to forge a consensual ethic for promoting tolerance. In a world connected by technology and globalization, our promotion and defense of human rights must be rooted in empathy. According to him, “this recognition of our shared humanity is also the basis of universal human rights.”