Prof. Yemi Osinbajo – Stepping out to take command
If it’s possible for anyone to succeed Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s President in 2023 without going through election, the most qualified candidate would be Professor Yemi Osinbajo. The Vice-President has been a quintessential Deputy: competent, experienced, learned, patriotic, loyal and devoid of inordinate ambition. In the last seven years, Osinbajo has acquitted himself creditably whenever called upon to stand in for the President.
Yet, he is bound by law to contest and win before he can step into his boss’ shoes. As expected, a few days ago, the Vice President declared his intention to contest for Nigeria’s number one political office.
“In the past seven years, I have served as Vice President under a true Nigerian patriot, a servant of the nation in war and peace, and a man of integrity, President Muhammadu Buhari,” Osinbajo said in his declaration speech. “As stipulated by the Nigerian constitution, our tenure will end next year.
“In this period of seven years, I have served the government in several capacities, and have, at the direction of Mr. President, represented our country in sensitive high-level international engagements. I have been to practically all local governments in Nigeria. I have been in markets, factories, and farms. I have been in agricultural, mining and oil producing communities; in the Delta, in Kebbi, Enugu, Borno; Rivers, Plateau and Ondo; and in all other States of the federation, listening to the diverse experiences and yearnings of our people.”
He said the reason why the Almighty God gave him these experiences, these insights, and these opportunities, is that they must be put to the use of the country and it’s great peoples. “Which is why I am today, with utmost humility, formally declaring my intention to run for the Office of the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, on the platform of our great party, the All Progressives Congress.
As a loyal Deputy, the Vice-President promised Nigerians continuity of the policy direction of the Buhari administration. “If by the grace of God and the will of the people, I am given the opportunity, then I believe that first, we must complete what we have started.” He listed these to include, among others:
*radically transforming the country’s security and intelligence architecture,
*completing the reform of the justice system focusing on adequate remuneration and welfare of judicial personnel,
*ensuring justice for all and the observance of rule of law,
*rapidly advancing the country’s infrastructure development, especially power, roads, railways and broadband connectivity,
*providing an excellent environment for businesses to thrive,
“Above all,” he promised, “front and centre of our efforts will be the provision of jobs and opportunities for our young people.”
Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo was born on March 8, 1957 in Lagos. He is a professor of law and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN). He is married to Oludolapo Osinbajo (nee Soyode), grand daughter of the late sage and statesman, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. They are blessed with three children.
Osinbajo’s early years in primary school were spent at Corona School Lagos. Between 1969-1975, he attended Igbobi College, Yaba, where he was the winner of the State Merit Award (1971); the School Prize for English Oratory (1972); Adeoba Prize for English Oratory (1972-1975); Elias Prize for Best Performance in History (WASC, 1973); School Prize for Literature (HSC, 1975); and African Statesman Intercollegiate Best Speaker’s Prize (1974).
Thereafter, he studied for his undergraduate degree at the University of Lagos between 1975-1978 when he obtained a Second-Class Upper Degree in Law. Here, he also won the Graham-Douglas Prize for Commercial Law.
In 1979, he completed the mandatory one-year professional training at the Nigerian Law School and was admitted to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor of Nigeria’s Supreme Court. In 1980, he attended the London School of Economics & Political Science, where he obtained a Master of Laws degree. An accomplished scholar, teacher, lawyer and administrator, Osinbajo is one of the nation’s leading experts on the Law of Evidence, National and Regional Corporate Commercial Laws and Public Law.
From 1979 to 1980, Osinbajo served the compulsory one-year youth service as a legal officer with Bendel Development and Planning Authority (BDPA), Bendel State.
In 1981, he was employed as a law lecturer at the University of Lagos, Nigeria. From 1983 to 1986, he was a Senior Lecturer of Law at the University of Lagos. He was an Adviser (legal advice and litigation) to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Bola Ajibola, from 1988 to 1992. Osinbajo began lecturing at the age of 23. From 1997 to 1999 he was made professor of law and head of Department of Public Law, University of Lagos. Osinbajo was a Member of Cabinet, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, also Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, from 1999 to 2007,
In 2007, he was made Senior Partner at Simmons Cooper Partners (Barristers and Solicitors), Nigeria. From 2007 to 2013 Osinbajo was once again employed as a Professor of Law, Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos. He was also a Senior lecturer at Lagos State University.
His other past roles include: Staff Member, United Nations Operations in Somalia, Justice Division, UNOSOM II; Member, United Nations Secretary General’s Committee of Experts on Conduct and Discipline of UN, Peacekeeping Personnel around the globe, Member, 2006; and Partner in the law firm of Osinbajo, Kukoyi & Adokpaye.
Osinbajo is the Pastor in charge of the Lagos Province 48 (Olive Tree provincial headquarters) of the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
After the formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2013, Osinbajo was tasked with other notable Nigerians to design and produce a manifesto for the new political party. This culminated in the presentation of the “Roadmap to a New Nigeria,” a document published by APC as its manifesto if elected to power.
On December 17, 2014, the presidential candidate of APC, Muhammadu Buhari, announced Osinbajo as his running mate for the 2015 general elections. During the campaigns, Osinbajo held numerous town hall meetings across the country as against the popular rallies that many Nigerians and their politicians were used to. One of his campaign promises, which he has recently reiterated, was the plan to feed a school child a meal per day. Beyond feeding the school children, he has recently emphasized that this plan will create jobs (another campaign promise) for those who will make it happen.
On March 31, 2015, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) confirmed APC as the winner of the presidential elections. Thus, Buhari and Osinbajo became the President-elect and Vice President-elect of Nigeria, respectively. They were both sworn in on 29 May 2015.
As the Vice-President, Osinbajo is assigned the responsibility of overseeing the economic planning team and report as well as make recommendations to the president who takes the final decision.
President Buhari wrote a written declaration on May 9, 2017 to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives on his decision to embark on a medical trip abroad, thus making Vice-President Osinbajo the Acting President.
On August7, 2018, Osinbajo fired the State Security Service boss, Lawal Daura for illegal invasion of National Assembly by armed and masked operatives of the department. Daura was replaced with Matthew Seiyefa. On May 29, 2019, Professor Yemi Osinbajo took the oath of office to begin his second term as Vice-President.
Generally, Vice-President Osinbajo is regarded as a clean and decent man of integrity. He is one of the most decorated public officers in Nigeria today. He is a recipient of one of the highest National Honours award of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) the highest legal practitioners’ award of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), a Professor of Law and a Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). The lists of his awards, publications, membership of professional bodies and references are intimidating.
Throughout his service years, there have been no proven cases of corruption cases of corruption against him. The Emir of Daura, Faruk Umar, testified to the vice president’s integrity, describing Osinbajo as “the most trustworthy Vice-President of Nigeria.” He confered on him the chieftaincy title of Danmadamin Daura, the highest traditional title in the emirate.
It would amount to stating the obvious to say that Osinbajo who has served as Vice-President of Nigeria for seven years is a top political player at the national stage. Prominent Nigerian leaders across the country have given enviable testimonials about him. During the 2022 annual lecture of Sir Ahmadu Bello Foundation, former Governor of Niger State and a chieftain of the opposition PDP was reported to have said: “Mr Vice President, do you know you are the best candidate in your party?” he said, describing Osinbajo as the only candidate that knows the country and has the acceptance of everyone across the country regardless of tribe and religion. The Emir of Lafia Justice Sidi Bage (Rtd) openly declared his support and that of Nasarawa people for the vice president when he said, Mr Vice President, “wherever you go, we will follow”.
A former military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, had this to say about the vice president: “Osinbajo has a great passion for Nigeria, he is one that can communicate with the country and inspire people among other qualities; he is the best person to lead Nigeria in 2023. I know the Vice-President very well; he is a good man; a man who has conviction about Nigeria; a man who can communicate with the country and inspire people. Such a man is a worthy person to work with; we need a good man to lead Nigeria; a man who has a passion for this country’s economy,” he concluded.
Osinbajo’s declaration has been greeted with an overwhelming approvalacross the country. By any standards, Prof. Osinbajo has one of the best chances to succeed his boss as Nigeria’s President next year. He is, therefore, named among The Top10 Magazine’s top 10 most electable presidential hopefuls for 2023.