Celebrating a 'loyal' Nigeria VP at 60

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari with his vice and acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa in Abuja March 10, 2017. MOHAMMED MOMOH | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Nigeria's Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo represents different personalities to different people. To some, he is the legal luminary they have always known; some see him as their pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG); but many Nigerians now see him as the acting president.

Hopefully, he will revert to his vice-president position, following the arrival on Friday from London of the substantive President Muhammadu Buhari, who had been on a medical vacation for 50.

President Buhari successfully transferred power to Prof Osinbajo in an acting capacity in order to have enough time to attend to his health. Many Nigerians applauded the decision, a move that was not unconnected with the country’s recent experience.

Transfer power

In 2010, President Umaru Yar’Adua was seriously ill and flew out of the country, but was prevented by some alleged cabal to transfer power to the then Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan.

This act almost created a constitutional lacuna when President Yar’Adua could not return as expected. Only the swift intervention of the National Assembly under Senator David Mark, could confirm Mr Jonathan as the acting president. Sen Mark invoked the doctrine of necessity to have his way.

But President Buhari, armed with the understanding of the constitutional provision, did not wait for any prompting before transferring power to Prof Osinbajo.

Became a friend

It could have been detrimental to the country if what happened during President Yar’Adua's reign did happen again. The singular action of President Buhari to transfer power saved the country from controversy.

In a birthday message to the acting president, Buhari described Osinbajo as a loyal running mate, who later became a friend.

On his Twitter handle he said: “Sixty hearty cheers for Prof Osinbajo, running mate turned partner in service to Nigeria; and friend. Happy Birthday, Professor,” President Buhari wrote.

On his part, Prof Osinbajo attributed his new age and his accomplishments to “the work of God’’ and thanked God for the opportunity to serve Nigeria.

Extremely polite

Many Nigerian have affirmed the humility, candour and doggedness the vice-president exhibits.

Mr Bunmi Divinewelath recounted his experience with Prof Osinbajo in 1997 as a student at the Nigerian Law School on Victoria Island.

“I was a member of the committee set up by the Christian Lawyers Fellowship-Nigerian Law School branch to raise funds for students who needed assistance in the payment of their Nigerian Law School fees.

“I approached Prof Yemi Osinbajo who was a pastor at RCCG, he gave liberally on behalf of the church, and he was extremely polite to me, no airs at all," he recounted.

President Umaru Yar'Adua. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“That is why in 2014, I made a case for Prof Yemi Osinbajo to be chosen as the running mate to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and I am happy that the president and the party leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu deemed it fit to listen and made him the vice- presidential candidate, we are all the better for it.”

Little wonder, most Nigeria across the divide have been applauding the vice-president for holding forte for his boss in an unprecedented manner, visiting troubled Niger Delta and South East regions to pacify aggrieved citizens.

With the knowledge of his boss, the acting president visited all the states in the Niger-Delta, where the Niger Delta Avengers militant group, held sway. The effect has been the ceasefire after communicating the government’s commitment to transform the region.

From recession

The peace initiative has yielded positive results, especially the increase in oil production to the tune of 2.1 million barrels per day from 800,000 daily.

Prof Osinbajo has carried on, with the knowledge of ailing President Buhari, the "change"’ agenda of the administration, particularly the anti-corruption war and the restoration of the economy from recession.

"Nigerians will soon heave a sigh of relief,’’ Prof Osinbajo said.

Prof Osinbajo is seen as a man not desperate for power or populism, but one who is determined, loyal and eager to make a mark through his support to his boss to leave behind legacies for the benefit of the citizens.

The national leader of the ruling All Progressive Congress {APC), Mr Tinubu, who first appointed Prof Osinbajo as the Lagos State Attorney-General under his administration in 1999, described him "as a loyal team player who does not seek personal accolades’’.

Your birthday

"We know that you will have little time to celebrate as your birthday comes at a momentous time this year.

"As the humble and selfless person that you are, you shall be busy promoting the policy agenda of your principal and our President Muhammadu Buhari,” Mr Tinubu said.

An aide to former President Jonathan, Mr Reno Omakri, acknowledged the performance of Prof Osinbajo, as acting president, and described him as God fearing.

He understands the problem bedevilling the country, he said.

The weekend

"Prof Osinbajo is a man that understands the language of leadership,’’ he said.

President Buhari on Friday said the vice-president will remain in charge for the next few days as he continues to rest.

"I deliberately came back towards the weekend, so that the Vice-President will continue and I will continue to rest," he said in Abuja.

"I am feeling much better now. There may, however, be need to have further follow-ups within some weeks," he said.

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