Browsing through the internet this morning, I came across an article written by one Bob Majiri Oghene Etemiku, which he titled: “Buhari’s Blood Runs Through Osinbajo’s White Agbada.” In the said article, Etemiku stooped so low in his struggle to demean the hard-earned reputation of Professor Yemi Osinbajo — a man who has distinguished himself as a symbol of virtue and creative innovation in Nigeria’s public office.
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, GCON.
It was not only the highly esteemed Professor of Law that Etemiku attacked. In fact, he began his jaundiced piece by attacking the person of His Highness, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the former Emir of Kano, for courageously voicing out what millions of Nigerians have come to know as the truth.
Speaking during the launching of the book, Osinbajo Strides: Defining Moments of an Innovative Leader, (which was written by 25 independent journalists to honour Prof. Yemi Osinbajo), 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 current administration willing to debate any matter and yield superior argument.”
It was the above statement, which is known by many as the truth, that made Etemiku question Sanusi’s wisdom and ability to read the books in his own library. He even went so low to state that “…it is one thing to own a library, and another thing to read the books in it.” While many informed minds, who may have read the said article, may choose to ignore it for its many contradictions and foolishness, I felt that it needed to be addressed, just to set the records straight. Even the Scriptures admonishes us to “answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.”
To begin with, I feel that we must empathise with Etemiku because it is clear that he is either suffering from ignorance or malice. It is also clear that he does not have the understanding of the times and the spirituality of truth. While struggling to do the bidding of his paymasters, he forgot to understand that anyone who chooses to declare war against the truth has chosen to be on the wrong side of history.
Winston Churchill, the late British Prime Minister, reminds us that “Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it. Ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” Had Etemiku followed his conscience, or even tried to read the book, which is the subject of the said discussion, he would have appreciated the reason why these 25 independent intellectuals sub-titled the book, “Defining Moments of an Innovative Leader.” Any careful observer, who reads that piece, will note that Etemiku was simply executing his cash-and-carry journalistic trade which lacks basic ethical standards.
He accused the Vice President of not being innovative, but facts in the public domain contradict his misleading claims.
For those who know and honour the truth, Osinbajo remains one of the brightest lights shining out of Africa. For those who have followed him closely, Professor Osinbajo has distinguished himself as a symbol of innovative leadership through his words and actions. 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. It often places on him a demand for a deeper level of thinking, making him keep meditating over such challenges until hidden opportunities begin to emerge.
It was this capacity to think very deeply and see opportunities in challenges that made him see Fintech as a veritable platform to encourage young people to participate in the financial sector and thrive. 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 a 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 has 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 practicalised 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 will definitely serve future presidents.
He also accused Osinbajo of not speaking out against injustice and human rights abuses but records in public domain, also contradict his claim. Crucial to Osinbajo’s philosophy of bringing about changes is taking a stance with the people, especially the oppressed. As a Professor of Law, Osinbajo has always insisted on the human rights of the citizens. As Acting President in 2018, the Vice President fired Lawal Daura, the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), for an unauthorised invasion of the National Assembly. At the same time, Osinbajo became the first Nigerian leader in recent memory to authorise comprehensive police reform during the early stages of the anti-SARS protests.
When the complaints about police brutality against young Nigerians became constant, Osinbajo was the first major public official to speak out.
Addressing State House correspondents in 2020, the VP said; “I am very concerned, in fact, very angry about what I see happening to young men and women who are arrested, in some cases maimed or killed by men of the police force.” According to the Vice President, “Human rights violations are completely unacceptable because these are individuals who are meant to protect Nigerians. The arrest, maiming or killing of young people or anyone at all, is completely wrong. It is unlawful and illegal, and anyone involved in this act ought to be investigated and prosecuted.” “You cannot have a situation where SARS say they are investigating cybercrime by arresting young men and women carrying their laptops and phones. Cybercrime is an electronic crime. I don’t see how you can investigate that by seizing people’s phones in a taxi or their cars. It is very obvious that this is a major concern, a few bad eggs in the police force are causing all of these problems. There is a need to take serious action.”
Urging for all hands to be on deck to effect reforms, the VP said, “I think that we all have to work together to ensure that the police and law enforcement agents do what their duty is and their duty is to protect our society, livelihoods and homes.” These, amongst many examples, are what distinguish Osinbajo as an innovative leader.
Arthur Schopenhauer, the late German philosopher reminds us that “all truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” Sanusi was right, he spoke the truth. And the truth is marching on.