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OPINION

A vision and flyers to fly with: A case study of Mallam Isa Pantami and Kashifu Inuwa

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By Hashim Suleiman

 

Let me start this piece from the year 2014 when me and my bosom friend Babukar Tanko through our always interactive and progressive discussions devoid of gossips and unrealistic dream birthed an idea about how we must encourage our young men especially those from the Northern part of Nigeria to imbibe the basics of how leadership comes by through capacity building and integrity. We basically wanted to encourage the government, private sector and political institutions to engage worthy young men as they were capable of injecting faster and most recent innovations in achieving their goals, many articles related to these have also been written by me and published in several media fora.

This entire idea birthed One Heart Initiative for Equity and Good Leadership which in-turn championed #30PercentOrNothing affirmative action and was coordinated nationally by my humble self. It was a non partisan effort aimed at speaking to both youths and institutions to harness one another, the entire aims and objectives is story for another day.

In the course of the above stated activities inter alia, we were also very interested in attending preaching classes and motivational speaking events and I remember vividly when Sheikh Zakir Naik came to Nigeria and was at the Ansarudeen Mosque at Maitama, Abuja, we were there at one of the days and his preaching about how the northern Muslims of Nigeria must embrace people of other faiths in the country with the aim of getting them attracted to the faith was aptly in tune with the aims and objectives of our vision and goals.

Subsequently that year was the Ramadan fast and all roads in Abuja led to Annur Mosque where there was a quintessential Sheikh from Saudi Arabia who had come to liberate Nigerian Muslims with a preaching that was very easy to decipher, we attended all of it and in the course we heard it was a young Sheikh from Saudi Arabia who was also  a PhD holder and was coming to contribute to the much needed awareness regarding Islam and  the general progress of the society as no society can grow without commensurate knowledge and awareness. At the end of the entire Tafsir session for the year 2014, I and Babukar were not the same people again and our vision for youth liberation and involvement in progressive activities got richer by no small means.

Thereafter, we moved on with our campaign for youth involvement and was always also echoing how the youth must behave appropriately to deserve such honors while the institutions must also select appropriately if they wanted to truly harness the ingenuity were highlighting in young people. Remember, the 2015 general election campaigns were also on at that moment and we visited all political parties, support groups, select private sector organizations and esteemed individuals. The entire idea was well received and the lot of it also afforded us an opportunity to understand better the complexity of the problems associated with young people and progress in Nigeria even though some appreciable number of them have done great things in personal capacity e.g Adebola Williams and Jaafar Jaafar etc.

In all of the above however, it was clear to me that if you have vision, then the most potent ingredient you need for it’s coming to fruition is people who will believe in it and fly with, we were blessed to have some of those in our movement and they were always ready to contribute their energy and resources to the success of the vision simply because they were convinced by the idea that the message was carrying.

Considering that it was a deliberate effort and self sponsored coupled with the complexity of the problems and lack of commensurate number of flyers to carry the vision, our activities retracted and we resorted to social media activism and motivational talks. The last major event we attended was the maiden dinner organized by Mrs Aisha Muhammadu Buhari where we categorically told the young men there that they had to switch their social media handles from mockery to advertising government policies as some of those policies could be complex for those at the downtrodden to decipher and participate.

So now we are in change and there are lots of expectations, promises and the need to do things differently. We watched and observed and made comments where necessary then boom came an announcement about the appointment of Mallam Isa Ali Pantami as the DG of NITDA and the first thing I did was to reach to my phone and called Babukar Tanko, I said my friend change has come and he replied he was also about calling me. Change had come in the sense that the person we heard his preaching the other time about the sort of ideals that were essential for a new society had joined the team of a change government and again he fits into ideals and vision of our wanting to see excellent young men join the team of the management of the country. Everyone then moved on and there was a new perception from our side regarding the change movement. Further to that again, there was the coming in of people like Tolu Ogunlesi, Mallam Bashir Ahmad, Ismail Ahmed, Ife Adebayo, Abdulrahman Baffa Yola and others numerous to mention. It was generally not bad for us at One Heart Initiative.

Going forward, we began to hear about NITDA taking over major headlines over quintessential performance that was associated with capacity building, saving money related to execution of IT projects by the Federal Government as well as major efforts aimed at ensuring Digital compliance by the nation. These news never stopped coming and Mr. President himself had to attend the e-Nigeria summit for 2017 and because of the content he followed it up with attendance at the 2018 version. There was general acceptance by the public that NITDA had been transformed into an unusual government organization in Nigeria. These achievements and more catapulted Dr Isa Ali Pantami to become the Minister of Communications in the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the general acceptance of all Nigerians as square peg in square hole.

Almost immediately after the appointment, there was the filling up of the vacancy at NITDA with Mr. Kashifu Inuwa and a look at his resume revealed him to be the one who has been flying with the vision of his predecessor. This further revealed the wisdom and the secret behind the successes NITDA had experienced all along. More fascinating is how both have formed uncommon synergy to consolidate their already started efforts at rejuvenating the ICT industry in Nigeria which will now spread to the associated communications industries.

Messages like these are essential to be brought to the fore for purposes of enlightening the public in relation to loyalty and belief in credible  visions including mentorship and patriotism. Also very importantly to note is how criticism of policies of government must not be based on partisan considerations and bandwagon information. A closer look into events and activities could reveal information enough to make you form an objective assessment of ventures.

May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

Hashim Suleiman wrote from FCT, Abuja. oneheartnaija@yahoo.com

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OPINION

Why the noise about the Nigerian Presidency and the Power Cabal? By Segun Awoniyi

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Cabals exist everywhere and at all levels of authority, tiers of government, organizational administration even at community levels. Bad commentaries and pouring invectives on the leadership at any level are to say the least, denigrating, demoralizing and demotivating. A king or monarch without a “stonewall or bulwark’’ mounted by trusted servants, aides or officials is vulnerable to attacks and all kinds of assault.

Cabals hold sway at palaces as the king is naturally protected against direct assaults and verbal duels.  Even when his majesty is seated, the Prime Minister and any other authorized spokesperson speaks on his behalf and takes the heat or backlashes.

To see the king, and going by the set up at the palaces, one has to go through the several levels of gate-keeping authorities for clearance, security checks and approvals and that is why security breaches are a rarity at that level.
In big companies, conglomerates, organizations, associations and business empires, “cabals’’ in the form of Executive Management, Boards or Committees do exist. This is  because some level of politics is involved in decision-making and to give teeth to the executive orders. It is commonplace to hear at that level that the “MD/CEO says or approves so and so.’’

In governance, aides appointed by the helmsman and Chief Executive are trusted and tested, who must be of phlegmatic temperament and are willing and ready to carry out tasks to the letter with the appointor’s stamp of authority. The aide(s) must be disingenuous, plucky, calm, upbeat and well-informed about developments, ready to ward off any gale-force, fend off cooked up allegations, throw lifebelt to floundering issues in consultation with his Principal.

Experientially, serving and past governors all have powerful aides with some of them later becoming governors, ministers and ambassadors. One of such is the Chief of Staff position. If the head of the cabal or kitchen cabinet had not mastered the state craft with a pedigree of astuteness, master-organizer/planner and tactician, he will stand no chance of being entrusted with power.

In Nigeria today, the man who calls the shot at the nation’s seat of power is Abba Kyari, who was appointed to that office on August 27, 2015.

According to Wikipedia, Kyari a retired Nigerian Army one-star General (Brigadier), was a military governor in the North, Commander, Nigerian Army’s 1 Brigade and Army’s Artillery. As an attestation to his stellar performance in public office as governor, he successfully implemented a master plan for Kaduna City.

He also led the Northern delegation to the 1994 National Constitutional Conference and had the singular opportunity to chair the Defence Committee. Kyari has since made a successful foray into business and politics.

Kyari, a public administrator par excellence in the eye of the public and from people’s assessment, has a lot of political and administrative savvy, aversion to media publicity, pulling himself always by his bootstraps, unperturbed and focused always on his duties, and giving no room for any distraction. A man still full of energy at his age and as highly circumspect as his Principal.

Without being immodest, those giving Kyari bashing and calling him names such as the head of a cabal at Presidency are either ignorant of his duties and roles as the head of the presidential staff and the president’s closest aide or are mischievous. For the purpose of education, the word “cabal’’ (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English) is suggestive of a “ small group of people who make secret plans, especially in order to have political power.’’

Such plans, inter alia, are political, administrative, economic, social, security etc for the smooth and effective coordination of the Presidency and governance.

The structure and organization of American Presidency is apposite. The presidency is really a group of organizations rather than an individual person. The President is the Chief of State as well as the Chief Executive Officer, representing the country in its relationship with other nations even as Chief diplomat as well as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

With the enormousness of his powers, duties, influence and relevance, the president, therefore, needs a “strong’’ aide in the capacity of the Chief of Staff to assist him in enhancing his capacity to deliver and discharge his gargantuan functions as president. There is no gainsaying that the President is expected to fill the position with somebody with political support, loyalty and acumen who, of course, is also sympathetic to his administration’s aims, objectives and policies.

In U.S. where we borrowed our model of presidency from, the White House consists of hundreds of people who are the president’s personal staff, trusted and loyal; most of whom are his friends or former employees.

However, in Nigeria, the sponsored hue and cry, huffing and campaign of calumny against Abba Kyari is probably as a result of his stature, enigmatic expressions and unwavering loyalty to Mr President.
He is passionate in his desire for the President’s success, for the wheel of governance to run smoothly devoid of the distraction of the 2023 succession battles. Kyari brands such distractions as a disservice to the electorate and Mr President. He is equally averse to the use of state resources by the President’s appointees to prosecute the 2023 polls, still more than three and a half years away.

Kyari’s forte is delivering next level good governance, bequeathing a legacy of electoral reform and non-imposition of candidates or “anointing’’ of a successor – wants a divine arrangement; zero tolerance for graft and malfeasance in government.

Observably since the return of Nigeria to full-blown democracy in 1999, Kyari, no doubts, has emerged the most powerful and effective Chief of Staff in Aso Rock. In politics anywhere in the world, it is trendy to hear of “demolition job’’, that is, opposition and some senior party leaders, who have an agenda to set out to do a “demolition job’’ either on the President and or the Chief of Staff.

The goal is simple: Get rid of the hard-wired CoS, the president’s master-shield and pare down or whittle down the president’s influence, powers, or the strong presidency, compromise and take advantage of its vulnerability as well as plant their own cabal to actualise the dream (2023).

Recounting our rich political history, the great sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, by the strength of character of his “cabal’’ at that time (trusted aides) – Ex-Govs. Adekunle Ajasin, Bola Ige, Lateef Jakande, Ambrose Alli, Bisi Onabanjo, Profs. Banji Akintoye, Bamiro etc) was able to successfully implement the free and qualitative education in the defunct Western Region of Nigeria, the first in Africa and even before our colonisers, Britain introduced free education.
A weak presidency with lily-livered aides is synonymous to a floundering presidency and government, while a strong presidency with men of courage and sangfroid will translate to a strong, effective and stable polity. A masquerade without the man behind the masquerader is nothing but a mere costume. Only the guilty and those that Prof. Wole Soyinka referred to as “corruption fighting back’’ and those positioning themselves so soon after the 2019 elections for the 2023 presidential race, are afraid of an uncompromising CoS Abba Kyari.

President Muhammadu Buhari should not push the panic button or allow himself to be stampeded into tinkering with the configuration at the power centre in the Presidency, else the “stonewall’’ will be broken down and flung open to those on the fray for rough and tumble of politics – ultimately to take over power with deftness in 2023 thereby destroying the gains and legacies of eight years of Buhari Presidency.

The sardonic comments about the person and office of the Chief of Staff are unsavoury. The Office of the Chief of Staff is strategic and remains the fulcrum of the nation’s Presidency and only a trusted, tested and experienced administrator can fit into it.

– Segun Awoniyi writes from Federal Housing Estate, Kubwa, Abuja

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OPINION

Pantami is the man of the year, By Uwa Suleiman

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There is a global conformity in leadership circles to assess the achievements of decision makers using a hundred days as the yardstick. Perhaps, the timeline is based on allowing enough time for political office holders to “settle in” and establish a few quick wins. In Nigeria particularly, it is mostly regarded as a “celebration of 100 days in office” characterised by newspaper advertorials replete with prayers and congratulatory messages. But like everything else, the times are changing, an effective, impactful, innovative and robust pattern of leadership with zero tolerance for down time is emerging and leading the charge, is the Honourable Minister of Communications; the proactive, pragmatic, tirelessly hardworking, intelligent Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami).

Dr Isa was sworn into office as a federal minister on August 21st 2019 and he literally hit the ground running. Without compulsion, theatrics or grandiose theoretic, the trail blazer is changing the narrative. He has achieved so much in just forty days, we are confronted with possibilities that cannot be put off for another sixty. On Saturday, September 28th 2019, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) and Instinct Wave deservedly honoured him as the IT MAN OF THE YEAR at the annual Nigeria Technology Innovation and Telecommunications Award, an event with a reputation of being the Oscars of IT in Nigeria. Coincidentally, he was in far away Turkey on a national assignment – the e-government Summit where he brokered a strategic win for Nigeria, and could not attend in person. He delegated a worthy representative, the Managing Director of Nigeria Communications Satelite (NIGCOMSAT) Dr Abimbola Alale who stood in excellently.

Some critics may argue that the award, though well merited, is based on his performance as the immediate past Director General of NITDA where he established transformation in unprecedented proportions. I however, believe that Dr Pantami has already set a record – shattering standard, in his present capacity in just forty days to earn his status as IT MAN OF THE YEAR.

Right from the maiden press conference he held on assumption of office, his directives to Agencies and Parastatals under his supervision were clear, precise and in accordance with their various mandates. There was no ambiguity. Direct, impactful actionable instructions. The strategic thinker had done his homework, he came prepared. His in depth knowledge and understanding of the sector immediately reflected in his action plan. As a man who keeps his promises and lives by a strict moral code of completing any task he sets upon, never leaving anything to chance, he has consistently supported and encouraged his able team of CEOs in accomplishing set objectives and this exemplary leadership has brought about the following achievements in the last forty days;

An unprecedented, solid foundation for security enhancement by ordering the deactivation of all improperly registered SIM cards in the country. It is no news that 90% of cyber crimes (mostly financial), commited in Nigeria today, are carried out using improperly registered SIM cards because, they are almost impossible to trace. He immediately issued a directive to the Telecommunications regulator NCC in that regard. A large percentage of Nigerians initially doubted it could be done, but they failed to reckon with the force called Pantami. He followed up on it and by Wednesday, September 25th 2019 deadline, the order was in full effect. All improperly registered SIM cards are at the moment disabled and are no longer in use. The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) reports a figure of 2.2 million in that category! The security advantage of this achievement is already gaining momentum and will be sustained. There is a security apparatus in place to trace any registered SIM card used for criminal purposed within an hour.
As a computer scientist and unapologetic technology advocate, Pantami knows that the use of technology in crime can only be countered in the same deadly measure by dep[oying superior technology against it. The establishment of the country’s first Emergency Communication Centre in Katsina State on September 23rd 2019 assures Pantami’s place in history as a practical problem solver. A man who abhors empty talk, his actions speak for him. The ECCs will be established in all states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory FCT with a 24/7 manned response toll free number 112. This is a first of its kind initiative beneficial to all Nigerians regardless of ethnic, religious or social status. It is leveraging on technology to ensure the safety of lives and property of citizens at its best! In one fell swoop, Pantami has created jobs, bridged the digital divide in the area of security between Nigeria and the developed world and given hope to the ordinary Nigerian that government for the people is a reality.
Having initiated and secured the ISO certification ISO 27001;2013 for the National Information Technology Development Agency as then Director General, the Honourable Minister of Communications again read the riot Act to all Parastatals under his purview. He has directed that by 2020, they must be ISO Certified. It will be done because the processes have begun in earnest . I can guarantee that in the nearest future, the entire civil service will be falling over themselves to be ISO Certified. Wait for it! To be ISO certified means an organization has met the International Standards Organisation’s Quality Management System and is focused on service delivery with customer satisfaction as the main objective. Now, just imagine for a moment a Nigerian Civil Service that is ISO Certified!
I have always maintained that there is no other public personality who exemplifies the spirit of national unity better than Dr Isa and this truth continues to manifest in diverse ways on a daily basis. This is a man whose mentality is so patriotic he is not limited by the petty borders of selfishness. He believes in the noble cause of national development in its entirety. A phenomenal team player who is not enticed by personal praise or gain, he remains the one public servant who will pursue a common goal outside his comfort zone without selfish motives. On September 16th 2019, Pantami wrote to the Honourable Minister of Woks and Hosing Dr Babatunde Raji Fashola imploring him to use his good offices to intervene speedily in addressing the deplorable state of some major road networks in the country.
Dr Pantami is not the Minister of works but he recognises his authority as an influencer and characteristically, he uses his influence for the benefit of all. The economic implication of this request which I am positive will be favourably considered, is not lost on the farmer, the business men and women, the road users in general who have to navigate through triple the normal challenges of getting their goods and services across Nigeria. Security challenges of armed robbery and banditry, loss of lives through vehicle accidents and the total inability of certain services reaching rural areas aided by bad road infrastructure will also be addressed.
Three days later on September 19th 2019, he penned a similar letter to his colleague in Agriculture requesting the inclusion of Gombe, his home state in agricultural interventions citing their proven skill and prowess in that field. This is selfless leadership and how to get things done. Watch and learn.
As a Minister with federal might, he has taken his resilient drive for national development across borders. His commitment to putting Nigeria on the global map is legendary and he pursues his mandate with relentless zeal. On Friday September 20th 2019, he led the Nigerian delegation to a meeting with the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) Team, organisers of the Global Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) to canvass for greater visibility for indigenous start ups, better opportunities for exhibitors, strategic networking windows for policy makers and a speaking slot on the global stage for Nigeria.
September 26th 2019, the enigmatic minister arrived Geneva, Switzerland to formally give national consent, to a global resolution of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) at its third Extraordinary Congress. This means Nigeria as a member nation will comply with International Renumeration Rates, uphold the rules for international mail exchanges, stimulate growth in mail, parcel and financial services as well as improve service delivery.
The very next day September 27th 2019, the indefatigable ambassador of change was in Ankara, Turkey leading a delegation of diplomats and industry regulators to an international partnership in the areas of Capacity Building (specifically scholarships for indigent students), e-Government development and broadband penetration, National Information Security System Platform for SIM and Mobile Registration using Digital Identity and Cybersecurity.
This is a worthy ambassador of Nigeria whose intents, words and actions are committed to the pursuit and attainment of nationalistic goals. He is deliberate in everything. Dr Pantami’s every action is strategically keyed into the President’s three point Agenda;
Security
Anti corruption
Economic Growth
His loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari’s Vision and Mission can be summed up in his own words “The vision and mission of President Muhammadu Buhari is our only vision and mission. We are in office to ensure that the President’s Agenda for national security, anti corruption war and rapid economic development succeeds. We as public officers have no other goal. We are not interested in individual success, our concern is the collective success of Nigeria as a nation and the prosperity and safety of all Nigerians”.
When I wrote in a previous article that “he will disrupt the norm…he will blaze the trail….the sector that gets him is the luckiest”, it was a statement backed by the trusted, guaranteed integrity and credibility of a God fearing, truly patriotic Nigerian. The IT MAN OF THE YEAR award has been earned . Congratulations are in order.
On behalf of the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Communications, the entire Management and staff of the Federal Ministry of Communications and indeed the entire ICT Ecosystem in Nigeria, Congratulations to our boss, the headmaster of technology in Nigeria, the unifier, the enabler and symbol of change, problem solver and Honourable Minister of Communications Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami FNCS, FBCS, FIIM MCPN.

Suleiman is Spokesperson to the Honourable Minister of Communications.

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OPINION

Dyed-in-the-wool: Why Osinbajo’s loyalty to Buhari cannot be questioned, By Benjamin Okeke

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Those who know President Muhammadu Buhari whether as a former Head of State, elder statesman and now as a democratically elected President are unanimous in the belief that the retired army general is not effusive with praises. Many say his deadpan visage and taciturnity are a spin-off of his military background. In fact, in the run-up to the 2015 elections, these character components were a major campaign tool of the opposition, which said he will be an apathetic and detached President. That notion was never explicitly corrected. Hate him or like him, the President cannot be stampeded (who can even dare?) to talk or praise anyone except he is profoundly convinced that the person deserved it.

Yet, if there’s any man whose singular actions have always impressed, excited and humanised President Buhari, it is none other than Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN. When it is about Osinbajo, President Buhari lights up, sings his praises whether he was present or not, and never shies away from telling anybody who cares to listen that Nigeria could not have had a better Vice President; and that he is luckiest to have him by his side.

At the height of his ill health in 2017, President Buhari invited Osinbajo to London where he was recuperating to personally thank him for his performance, dedication and service to the country as Acting President. “The efforts by the Vice President as the Acting President are commendable. He deployed his youth and intellect to run all over the place. Thank God that I have the time to watch him on NTA 24 hours and I congratulate him,” the President said, adding, “I allowed him to come and see me so that I can personally thank him for all that he has done,” Buhari said. There are not many people who have been so eulogised by Buhari in this lifetime.

On the occasion of his 60th birthday, the President described Osinbajo as a running mate turned partner in the service to Nigeria. A year later, while congratulating him on yet another birthday, President Buhari thanked Osinbajo for being a loyal and dependable partner and wished him many more years of service to God, to Nigeria, and humanity. Beyond birthdays, in the line of duty proper, President Buhari has never been tongue in cheek in his assessment of the Vice President; he says it as he feels it. At a meeting with traditional rulers in Ogun State earlier in the year, Buhari spoke of Osinbajo’s pivotal role in delivering on the ‘Change Agenda’ in the past four years, particularly in his capacity as the Head of the National Economic Council (NEC). Responding to the Vice President’s presentation at the meeting on the economic outlook in the country in the last four years and how the APC-led administration had done more with fewer resources, the President said: “(Osinbajo) being the Chairman of NEC is in a very strong position to know what we are earning and what we are doing with the earnings. I am very pleased with his vast experience and intellect.

He has captured effectively what the administration has done and I commend him for playing a very great part in that. Thank you, Mr Vice President.”

Last May, at the breaking of fast at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where the President hosted top government officials, he said he was upset with the level of poverty in the land and challenged the elite to do something very urgent to ameliorate the pathetic situation. The guests were stunned not knowing what the President was driving at. There was pin-drop silence in the elegantly laid out hall while cutleries hung in midair; many a guest undecided whether to go on eating or stop to get the import of the message.

The President continued, “When I drive around the country, what upset me very much is the status of our poor people – you see young people, the so-called Almajiris with torn dresses, with a plastic bowl. They are looking basically for what to eat. The question of education (to them) is a luxury. I think the Nigerian elite are all failing because I think we should have a programme that will at least guarantee some basic education for our people no matter how poor they are.” Then, the clincher!
“So, I welcome the Vice-President’s initiative of the School feeding programme. If you check in your localities, the enrolment into schools improved because a lot of children can get at least one good meal a day. This is the position of this country,” the President added, as the guests roused in ovation to the VP.

But the President was not done. He pointed out jocularly; “This `market money’ (Tradermoni), I warned the Vice-President. I don’t like him to be mobbed, especially the way I see hefty women coming and confronting him, he should be very careful.” The hall erupted in laughter again. Then the President added seriously, “These are very good initiates. Initially, I was quite reluctant but I must admit that they are very good programmes and they endear this government to a lot of poor people because of this N5, 000 or N10, 000 being given to them as loans. They are fantastic programmes and I have to admit quite honestly that the Vice-President was ahead of me by insisting on them.” Instructively, the President said that even when he is not totally in support of an idea and the VP insisted, “He knows me, I will say `okay, go and do what you like.’ He did it and I’m very pleased as he is being very successful.”

For Prof Osinbajo, loyalty is his strong suit; he wears it like a second skin, a badge of honour which he proudly shows off. On a visit to the palace of the Emir of Katsina, Abdulmumin Usman, for the inauguration of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Clinic, Osinbajo said, “I feel very much at home in Katsina. More so, because this is the state of the President who has taken me as a brother; in fact, the President has taken me as a son in the way he treats me.” Osinbajo was reported to have also said that with the kind of responsibilities assigned to him, Buhari had left no one in doubt that both of them could live together as brothers. This has been the pattern of the relationship between the President and the Vice President; one of mutual love, loyalty and respect for each other. And the situation is no different from the relationship between Osinbajo and leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande. Even as Vice President, Osinbajo defers to these men as his political leaders.

Otherwise regarded as the most utilised, ubiquitous and cerebral Vice President that Nigeria has ever had in her democratic experiment; his brilliance and hard work have come in handy for the administration. Do not forget, when the federal government needed to take its social programmes to the masses in markets and farms across the length and breadth of the country, Prof Osinbajo was the man to do the job. And, why not? He is affable and accessible; pressing the flesh comes naturally to him; virtues he deployed to the benefit of a government that tottered on the brink of sheer disconnect with the masses.

Everywhere he went, the Vice President made many do a rethink about the Buhari-led administration. He campaigned and cajoled the people into seeing beyond the prevailing hardship in the country, promising a utopian nation if they got a second term. They have since got the second term but at a huge personal cost to Osinbajo. In the course of taking the field, it would be recalled that the Vice President and nine others escaped unhurt when a hired helicopter conveying them to Kabba, Kogi State, crash-landed. That was in February 2019. In a tweet posted by Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, he stated, “President Muhammadu Buhari has praised what he called ‘the tenacious spirit’ of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who survived a helicopter crash in Kogi state.”

Undaunted, he went ahead with his campaign mission. Such was his commitment! Earlier in June 2018, a chopper that was to convey Osinbajo from the Nigeria Customs Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada, Abuja, was forced to land immediately after takeoff. Osinbajo was in the school for the graduation ceremony of Senior Division Course 1 /2018 participants. The chopper had earlier taken the Vice-President to the college for the ceremony. However, while taking off, it could not ascend beyond tree level, emitting thick smoke and landing on the same spot abruptly. None of these adversities has stopped the VP from remaining committed to the ideals espoused by his principal.

This is why the unfounded rumours being peddled by political merchants that the presidency is emasculating the VP are nothing but mere fabrications. When the President replaced the Economic Management Team headed by Osinbajo with an Economic Advisory Council, there was widespread panic that Osinbajo’s influence was deliberately being whittled down as he seems to be becoming too formidable a prospective presidential candidate come 2023. Nothing can be further from the truth. Even when the presidency said the move was to change the strategy and direction of the economic agenda, the peddlers of the rumour continued wallowing in scepticism, forgetting that the VP is still the chairman of the National Economic Council, which membership cuts across the 36 state governors, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Minister of Finance, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and other government officials and agencies whose duties hinge on the economy.

At no time has the Vice President mooted the idea of contesting in 2023 even though he is eminently qualified and well-positioned to do so, but for now, his loyalty and commitment is to help his principal achieve the Next Level agenda; and his party, the APC, to fulfil its manifesto of better life for Nigerians across board.

Okeke wrote from Lagos, Nigeria

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