More often than not, we place a premium on the outward, rather than the inward. We try to define people by what they say, what they wear and how they look rather than by the genuine qualities they possess.
One of the reasons this piece is most necessary is as a result of a recent post that found its way to social media. The crux of the piece was undoubtedly crafted to downplay the effectiveness of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and perhaps make him look bad ahead of the 2023 elections
The post highlighted that the only quality the Vice President possesses is his ability to speak Queen’s English, drop motivational quotes and take good pictures. This, of course, contradicts the hard work and commitment of the Vice President owing to the value and purpose he has brought to the office of Nigeria’s Vice President.
The accusation is merely a reflection of the depth of a lot of people’s ignorance. It shows not many are conversant with the humongous activities of the Vice President.
Since the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo assumed office, Nigerians have been divided by different notions. Many have claimed that if truly Osinbajo is the Pastor, the Professor, the SAN, the Saint and Perfectionist he claims to be, sectors like economy, security and education should indeed have fared better. Others have argued that the VP has been constrained to the roles which bind his office.
It is most important to note that the Vice President has specific functions and interestingly, most people do not know. They believe he has the same power as the President who can approve projects and appointments, draw plans and design policies
Many have on several occasions spoken about Osinbajo’s involvement with different policies and programmes of this administration, and how deeply involved he has been, but the majority have also failed to point to reasons this is so.
Looking back to the history of previous Vice Presidents in Nigeria, we have seen an example where a particular VP fought with his boss almost throughout his stay in office. There was another example where he was only available to sit in the office, read newspapers and take coffee.
Unlike his predecessors, Osinbajo has redefined the office of Nigeria’s Vice President, all thanks to the trust between the President and his Vice President. They both have kept an outstanding working relationship that has never been seen or imagined in the past 22 years of this 4th Republic.
Osinbajo, during the last seven years, has acted as President on three occasions. Those times we saw how he made governance look so simple.
When the Buhari administration came into power, there was an urgent need to create welfare and empowerment packages, employment for the youth, the vulnerable in the society and the like. This was what led to the creation of the National Social Investment Programmes which are NPower, Trader Moni, Home Grown School Feeding, CCT projects and the rest of them.
Prof Osinbajo was instrumental in setting up these programmes in 2016. Up till date, those programmes continue to be a blessing to a lot of Nigerians.
Vice President Osinbajo is not only actively but passionately involved in the conceptualization and implementation of the social investment programmes. In fact, his dedication to the social investment drive of the administration has received high praise from the President.
At an event held in May 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari commended Osinbajo’s efforts and said he was glad that the school feeding programme has improved attendance in schools. Buhari was particularly pleased that school children from poor homes could get at least one decent meal a day
The President’s happiness is in congruence with the goals of the National Homegrown School Feeding Programme which is aimed at providing nutritious meals for primary school children, thereby encouraging learning, increasing enrolment in schools and creating jobs for cooks.
The National Social Investment office in its June 2018 report recorded 8,596,340 pupils in 24 states being fed by the NHGSFP, and 90,670 cooks being empowered through the programme.
Another popular Social investment vehicle of the NSIO is Trader Moni/Market Moni initiatives, an offshoot of the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP). Again, Prof Osinbajo has also received a widespread commendation from various quarters for his successful hands-on leadership of the Trader Moni initiative, with the President jokingly expressing concern about the safety of his Second-in-Command in crowded business areas.
Trader Moni involves the disbursement of collateral-free loans to business people including traders, women cooperatives, market women, and farmers. The recipients of the loans must be members of approved cooperatives to ensure that the loans are paid back. The NSIO has reported that over 4,084 cooperatives have benefitted with about 308,737 certified loan disbursements.
Trader Moni is not the only NSIO programme that supports small businesses. There is also NPower, an initiative that seeks to improve the entrepreneurship culture, as well as develop skills among youths to make them more employable.
The target demography is the youth between the ages of 18 and 35. Each enrollee is given a monthly stipend of N30,000 and they are trained in their chosen vocation by NPower Volunteers. The NSIO has recorded impressive statistics for NPower, with enrolment as of May 2021 standing at 500,000 to 1 million in its efforts designed to actualise its target of taking 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
Each programme targets a specific demographic and the NSIO goes to great lengths to identify eligible beneficiaries. This is evident in the implementation of the NSIO’s National Social Safety Programme which was designed to get accurate data on poor and vulnerable households who qualify for assistance by the NSIO. The data gathering is done through various scientific means including poverty mapping, community-based targeting and proxy means.
Prof Osinbajo’s resourcefulness and foresight were also put to test in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic struck the entire world. Lockdown was subsequently in place which led to businesses shutting down, farmers unable to go to the farm or transport market produce. Jobs were lost, and families that survived through salaries suffered immensely as a result of the lockdown.
It was a struggling time for Nigeria and the entire world. Governments of each country began to look for a way forward as the global economy was in disarray. President Buhari also felt the need to inaugurate a team that would be in charge of the Economic Recovery Plan. He announced the set up of the Economic Sustainability Plan on the 30th of March, 2020 and chose the Vice President to oversee the committee.
Prof Osinbajo was certainly intentional about ensuring all went according to schedule to come up with the ESP. He personally followed up on Ministries and Parastatals in ensuring all hands were on deck in implementing the plan which was no easy task.
While the implementation of the plan is still on with loads of testimonies from many beneficiaries it has also done significantly well in the areas of job and wealth creation just in the space of a few months. The ESP, we must know, is not a collection of theoretical principles or fancy statements or beautifully worded document which is tailor-made not to work. Sound economics is about seeking solutions that work or will work to lift the lives of the farmers, rural poor, MSME, youth, women and the vulnerable who constitute the critical mass of the economy.
That the nation got out of an economic downturn when advanced economies like the United Kingdom were still neck-deep into recession is a testament to the meticulous economic management of this current administration.
The fact that the Nigerian economy achieved this at such a high speed only reflects the hard work, resilience, stamp and competence of Prof Osinbajo on the wheel.
We must never overlook such a huge and remarkable effort that made Nigeria avert a deep recession. While a number of us are known for speaking up against bad governance, we must also speak up when the right steps are taken towards a better Nigeria.
Vice President Osinbajo has been able to make do with the responsibility that comes with his office and the ones being assigned to him by the President. He has carried out these assignments with absolute diligence and dedication.
These are just a few of the giant strides from his office. A lot of things have also been said about how he brings cultures, tribes and religions together, soliciting for peace among Nigerians and making sure the message of unity is preached.
Opposition leaders have never ceased to praise his leadership and skills, especially in times when he acted as President. His decisive actions have changed the course of the country for the better whenever the President was away.
Government is a continuum. The developments and achievements of this present administration have brought to the fore exemplary leadership. We will need a great deal of sustainability as the Buhari government is set to leave office in 2023. No better shepherd can lead the country as we move to the next electoral circle other than the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN. He is the brain box of this administration and he is being repeatedly tipped to succeed his boss in 2023. One good turn deserves another.
• Adeoye is a newsman and public affairs analyst