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#OsinbajoAt67: An example of the best among us

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo giving an address at the Sir Ahmadu Bello Foundation memorial lecture in Kano State

By Vitalis Obidiaghaa

The 8th of March, being the birthday of Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, has subtly become a remarkable day in our national calendar, even though it is not officially recognized. The fact that well-meaning Nigerians from various quarters choose to celebrate “Prof” on this special day says so much about the personality of this distinguished Nigerian.

The remarkable story of Yemi, —a young Nigerian from a humble background, who choose the path of honour and diligence; paying his dues and following the tough intellectual path till he got to the zenith of his career as a professor of Law and a Senior Advocate of the nation; and then going on to become the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, —exemplifies the noblest manifestation of the Nigerian Spirit.

 

For those who have followed him closely, Osinbajo’s enthralling odyssey, especially in the field of intellectualism, validates the enduring wisdom that difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. His unwavering sense of loyalty and duty to our nation, rigorous erudition and professionalism, stern discipline, demonstrable integrity and almost a child-like faith in God has activated and enlisted those mysterious principles that guide human progress, making him an endearing figure to millions of our citizens.

 

He displays these noble traits effortlessly in the academia, legal profession, faith arena, politics and even romance. Informed minds can attest to the fact that these deep traits have meshed to win over the needed fundamental forces, which interfaced to leverage his life’s journey to date. He is no less a child of providence, wielding influence with alluring humility and exemplary focus. In line with his servant leadership philosophy, he has demonstrated with his life’s trajectory that spirituality, law and politics can fundamentally transform the human condition for good.

 

Maya Angelou, the famous American poet and essayist rightly observed that “nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” Angelou’s captivating insight into the existential challenges that confront great minds succinctly captures the life story of Professor Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo, —a man who has distinguished himself as a symbol of virtue and creative innovation in Nigeria’s public office.

 

I have observed that one of the distinguishing attributes that sets him apart as an innovative leader is his capacity to identify problems and see them as platforms to provide opportunities for many. This ability to see opportunities in challenges does not come cheap. Every great mind who thinks for others knows that it often places on one a demand for deeper level of thinking, making one to keep meditating over such challenges until hidden opportunities begin to emerge.

 

It was this capacity to think very deep and see opportunities in challenges that made Osinbajo see Fintech as a veritable platform to encourage young people to participate in the financial sector and thrive while he was still in office. To achieve this, he established the Advisory Group on Technology and Creativity which he personally chaired. This council influenced the regulatory reforms that saw the issuance of new Licences granted to FinTechs payment processing companies by the Central Bank of Nigeria. This singular policy directive has been so impactful that it has produced six Unicorns (companies worth one Billion Dollars) in just few years. This example proves that the capacity to see opportunities in challenges remains the hallmark of innovative leadership.

 

 

Another remarkable fact that distinguishes Osinbajo as an innovative leader is the role he played towards the activation of the usage of the Executive Orders in Nigeria’s constitutional democracy. Records have it that before President Buhari came into power, no civilian president ever issued an Executive Order even though the constitution gives the President the powers to issue such orders. While Buhari’s administration issued more than ten Executive Orders, many of such Orders bear the signature of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as Acting President. History has already recorded that it was Professor Yemi Osinbajo’s ingenuity that practicalized the issuance of Executive Orders in our national leadership.

 

One of such Executive Orders is the Executive Order 007, (The Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme) which was designed to empower private companies to finance construction or refurbishment of federal roads designated as “eligible roads” under the scheme and recoup their investments through deduction of the approved total costs expended on the project from their annual Companies Income Tax (CIT).

 

Many legal minds have argued that the introduction of the Executive Orders may be one of the outstanding legacies of Buhari’s administration, not just because of the impact of such orders, but because of the fact that it has awakened our national consciousness to the provisions of the constitution towards the usage of Executive Orders by the President. For a developing democracy like Nigeria where there is often a rancorous relationship between the Executive and the Legislature, the usage of Executive Orders is strategic to every president.

 

The foregoing may help explain why twenty-five independent intellectuals came together in 2023 and wrote Osinbajo Strides; Defining Moments of an Innovative Leader, a book that was written in honour of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo before he left office as the Vice President. Speaking during the launching of that book, His Highness, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the former Emir of Kano, courageously voiced out what millions of Nigerians have come to know as the truth.

 

The Emir stated that; “…we all agree that Nigeria is worse off not having someone like him (Osinbajo) as president, but I do hope that he will be available to serve and to advise and to put in his best for the country and continue to do so…” Further stating that “Osinbajo was one of those in the ‘former’ administration willing to debate any matter and yield superior argument.” What else can one say! Happy Birthday Prof. We love you dearly.

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