By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Nigeria’s history from independence in 1960 and its democratic experience since the Second Republic cannot be a complete discourse without x-raying the stabilising roles played by vice presidents since 1979 when Nigeria embraced the Presidential System of government.
For the benefit of hindsight, the vice presidents that have so far served under democratically elected presidents since 1979 were: Alex Ekwueme, under President Shehu Shagari; Atiku Abubakar, under President Olusegun Obasanjo, and Goodluck Jonathan, under Umaru Yar’ Adua.
Namadi Sambo, served under Goodluck Jonathan, and Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the 5th democratically elected Vice President, is currently serving under President Muhammadu Buhari.
By most accounts, from 1979 until date, no other vice president seemed to have had a more genial working relationship with his principal than Osinbajo.
The relationship between the duo, observers say, has remained unacerbic and free of turbulence; they say the conviviality is impressive in spite of insinuations.
Osinbajo has been critically acclaimed by perceptive stakeholders as not only outstanding, but the best of vice presidents Nigeria ever had.
Born March 8, 1957 in Lagos, Osinbajo attended the Igbobi College, Lagos, University of Lagos, from 1975 to 1978, and London School of Economics and Political Science.
He was Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Lagos State from 1999 until 2007.
Osinbajo, a professor of law at the University of Lagos for many years; was also a Senior Partner with Simmons Cooper Partners, a commercial law practice firm.
In 2015 presidential election, he was President Buhari’s running mate and was inaugurated as Nigeria’s vice president, on May 29, 2015.
On Feb. 23, Osinbajo and President Buhari were reelected for a second term in office.
He is also a Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).
Osinbajo and his wife Dolapo Osinbajo have three children.
Under Osinbajo’s helmsmanship, the National Economic Council (NEC) has passed 173 resolutions in 38 meetings.
The resolutions are inter alia: The approval of 650 million dollars seed funding as the Federal Government established Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, Community Policing, the National Transformation Livestock Plan, and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) clinics to help MSME with loans, materials and to improve ease of doing business.
Notable Nigerians have acknowledged Osinbajo’s outstanding performance as vice president.
Of note, President Buhari himself, while congratulating Osinbajo on his 62nd birthday on behalf of his family and the Federal Executive Council, described him as a “very dependable deputy with whom I share a very special bond.’’
Buhari noted that Osinbajo had in the past four years diligently championed the values of setting the foundation for the peace, progress, and stability of Nigeria by working very hard to build a resilient economy, while promoting transparency and accountability.
The president said that he looked forward to sharing many special moments of celebration with Osinbajo as they took the nation to the next level in the years ahead.
Emir of Daura, Kastina State, Alhaji Umar Farouk, when he received Osinbajo in his palace, spoke glowingly of him and described the vice president as a typical example of loyalty and trustworthiness in politics.
The traditional ruler appreciated Osinbajo for being supportive of President Buhari, a son of the emirate.
“I can assure you that all of us here, myself and my subjects; we are fully and solidly behind you and in support of you.
“We are happy with you and we are particularly proud of the way you have supported our son, Buhari, in leading our country Nigeria to prosperity.
“That explains why when you talk about loyalty and trustworthiness among the political class; you stand as an example worthy of note.
“I wish that you carry on with this level of trustworthiness and continue to uphold the confidence that our son has in you.
“I can assure you that our son has enormous trust in you, I want you to continue to justify that confidence he reposed in you,” he said.
The monarch said that the nation had never had such a government where the president and his vice president operated under such high level of mutual respect and understanding.
Sharing similar sentiment, the Chairman, Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers, His Royal Majesty, Eze Samuel Ohiri, described Osinbajo as one of the best vice presidents Nigeria ever had.
Ohiri said that the vice president had creditably acquitted himself in the way he piloted the affairs of the country any time President Buhari was not in the country.
“I want to thank you, especially for the way you held forth for Mr President the last time he stepped out of the country.
“The way you conducted the affairs of the country; people are talking about you in the world.
“Unarguably, you are one of the best vice presidents we ever had,’’ he said.
Sen. Kabiru Gaya (APC-Kano South), also described Osinbajo as a humble man, a great leader and a close associate of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“First of all, I came here to congratulate our boss, our brother, vice president, a humble man, a pastor, a great leader, a close associate of President Buhari who the president is very pleased with, to congratulate him for this reelection,’’ he said.
What’s more, the Emir of Gwandu and Chairman, Kebbi Council of Chiefs, Alhaji Muhammadu Bashar, lauded the vice president for his exemplary leadership style and for his loyalty to President Buhari.
“I love the way you managed the country when the President was away. I love how you go around the country trying to make peace.
“Kebbi is the 24th state you have taken the MSMEs clinic; we thank you for the great work of prosperity you are doing all over,” he said.
More recently, President Buhari, again, acknowledged the diligence of the vice president, especially in driving Federal Government’s Social Investment Programmes (SIPs).
Buhari said that the programmes, like TraderMoni, MarketMoni, National School Feeding Programme and other SIPs had reduced poverty and out-of-school pupils in Nigeria.
The president said that whenever he drove around the country, he got upset by the state of poor people.
“You see young people, the almajiris with torn clothes and plastic bowls. They are looking basically for what to eat.
“So, I welcome the vice president’s initiative on feeding in schools. If you check in some of the communities the attendance in schools has improved because a lot of children can get at least one good meal a day.
“This MarketMoni, I have warned the vice president that I don’t want him to be mobbed. The way women in the markets move to welcome him.
“These are very good initiatives, I must admit that they endeared many people to our government. The free meals, the N5,000 (Conditional Cash Transfer), N10,000, (TraderMoni) are fantastic programmes and they have been very successful,” he said.
Osinbajo, himself, has repeatedly expressed and demonstrated his belief and commitment to an indivisible, indestructible and progressive Nigeria.
Delivering the Eighth Convocation Lecture of the Osun State University recently in Osogbo, he reiterated his conviction that Nigeria would succeed as her success is key to Africa’s development.
Osinbajo spoke on the topic, “Six Decades of Chequered Nationhood: Nigeria Still Holds the Key to Africa’s Development.”
The vice president expressed optimism that Nigeria would achieve its potential.
“This country is bound to succeed; we will get there.
“Our founding fathers were all right, even though they had not even then seen Nigeria’s true potential.
“And indeed as Nigeria grows, so does Africa.
“It is not true that our diversity is an impediment to our sustainability; our strength is in our size.
“Great nations are those that stay together in spite their diversity,’’ he said.
As Nigeria marks 59 years of nationhood, `unity in diversity’ which Osinbajo has spiritedly canvassed, should be the watchword.
*News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)