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
Aisha Buhari: The travails of a first lady in Aso Rock
Pantami: An unstoppable game changer, By Uwa Suleiman
Long before he was called to public service, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) had prepared for the task ahead. His life- long foray into the highly complex, intellectual world of digital scholarship, long before we even embraced technology in these climes, is testimony that nature had behooved on him the role he is so excellently playing today. It is neither accidental nor a mistake or even some inexplicable phenomena that at this very auspicious time in our nation’s history, a man of Pantami’s standing and repute is exactly where he is today. No great leader happens by accident and nature makes no mistakes. In fact, it is God’s grand design that a leader is born, shaped, prepared , tested, purified and molded for the task ahead. Like the true worth and weight of gold is tested by fire, so is the life of a great leader tested and strengthened by trials and the stormy weathers of life.
However one looks at it, whether from a microscopic or a telescopic perspective, Pantami is one of the greatest , most influential leaders of this generation, a living attestation that the wisdom of Solomon has nothing to do with Methuselah’s age. Pantami was born ready, armed with uncanny wisdom, knowledge, focus, determination, resilience, an awe inspiring fearlessness in the pursuit of justice and truth, a doggedness that defies distraction and the ability to set the pace in the most unpaved paths.
The renaming of the Ministry which he oversees to the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, which has become a thorn in the flesh of some myopic, misguided or out rightly unpatriotic elements, gives an insight into the depth of Pantami’s understanding of where we should be and how to get there. A man who is thoroughly meticulous in his actions and responsibilities, he initiated and pursued the name change to properly position the Ministry, expand its scope to include the requisite functions and give legal backing to it, in line with global best practice. He took his team back to the drawing board and laid a formidable foundation for the process of digitalising the economy. This is the same strategy deployed by technologically advanced societies globally, the same strategy that has put them ahead of us, the same strategy we have always yearned for but lacked the leadership to implement. Pantami has risen to the occasion and filled the vacuum, by demonstrating the will and courage to execute his mandate, as tasked by President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, and the very people who should lend their support are indeed the crusaders of stagnation and retrogression.
Judging from the numerous feeble and cowardly recent attempts, at distracting or even stopping the laudable strides of Dr Pantami in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sector, through cheap blackmail, it is only logical to conclude that quite a number of hitherto, “lords of lawlessness” have become quite uncomfortable with his mass oriented, people friendly policies which uphold the rule of law.
It is both ironic and shameful, that while fifth columnists are working against the very principles and ideas we should all project, our neighbours on the continent both near and far flung, are inspired by Dr Pantami’s strategies and have refocused their countries’ digitalisation agenda drawing from his policies back home. At the Cyber security Conference for ECOWAS ICT Ministers, held in Ghana in October, his Ghanaian counterpart, Honourable Ursula Owusu-Ekufu after Nigeria’s presentation, stated that they were inspired by Dr Pantami’s policy of deactivating all improperly registered SIM Cards and right there and then, she followed in his footsteps and issued the same directive to the sector in her country. And that is not enough for an African female leader who has publicly declared Dr Pantami as a source of inspiration, she has also demonstrated her government’s willingness to collaborate with Nigeria for knowledge transfer as she has requested that a team from Ghana, visits Nigeria for the sole purpose of understudying NITDA, so they can benefit from Dr Pantami’s legacies and implement them in their country. There is no history of such a feat based purely on exemplary leadership and merit in the sector.
On the 2nd of December 2019, South Africa’s Communications Commission ordered its Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to reduce the cost of data, a clear twenty six days behind the same directive by our own proactive, forward thinking Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy. If indeed there is any justification in the attack and totally baseless criticism of the policy, I expect that the same venom should have been directed at the South African Authority, for after all, the pursuit of what is right and just, should not be selective or discriminatory. Commissioner for communications Tembinkosi Bonakele, went even further to threaten legal action against MTN and Vodacom if they fail to comply within two months.
The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), in its latest report released on the 22nd October 2019, declared that Africans face the most expensive internet charges in the world! The A4AI’s report is based on its definition of affordability as, 1GB of mobile broadband data, costing no more than 2% of average monthly income. Studies conducted across the continent reveal an appalling 7.12% averaging almost a sixth of monthly income in some cases. The cost of data is a major determinant of access.
In Nigeria, a reported forty million citizens have no access to the internet and Dr Pantami finds this situation totally unacceptable. He has the mandate to change the narrative and has proceeded to act accordingly. I personally, and millions of other Nigerians find it totally incomprehensible as to why anybody would stand against it. This ilk of illegality, who feed fat on the deprivation and dry milking of the ordinary consumers, and have no sense of loyalty or duty to country, should know that Dr Pantami’s ultimate objective transcends local recognition not for himself, but for Nigeria. The A4AI, for the purposes of clarity, is a globally credible initiative of the Web Foundation founded by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web, in partnership with Google and Facebook. This organisation has put in place a Good Practices Database which monitors improved access and affordability. Namibia and Kenya have already been cited on the platform for improved access and tax eliminations. Dr Pantami aims to effect such a phenomenal change in the sector as to put Nigeria on that pedestal. So unless the naysayers have more credibility than the A4AI, or nobler patriotic intentions than the Honourable Minister, I humbly advice they desist from their ignoble acts as no cabal will survive under the leadership of Dr Pantami in the ICT Sector.
The precedence he has set in NITDA, has become the solid bedrock on which sanity, the rule of law and professionalism now thrive. That same inherent leadership quality is what is manifesting in his capacity as Minister today. You cannot change or stop a man like Pantami from following his convictions, the law and his heart, when it comes to the discharge of his duties especially in upholding justice for the benefit of majority.
Here is a man who has staked everything to give his very best to the service of country, here is a man who is inspiring governments of other nations and galvanizing them into action, here is a man who has proven his mettle through his antecedents, one of our own, willing ready and committed and all some nitwits can do is attempt to discredit his efforts by ascribing petty politics to his office for their own selfish gains.
Dr Pantami is not a man to make loose or unguarded statements, so when he speaks, his words resonate substance. At a meeting with stakeholders in his office recently, he declared his stand. In his words, “They say, it is unwise to put all your eggs in one basket, I have deliberately put all my eggs in one basket, so my attention remains undivided. I have no choice but to commit all I have to ensure my eggs are protected and productive”. There is no Agency or Parastatal under his purview, that is left out of his transformation drive. He attends to issues with equal zeal as they exist and arise in every facet.
In the event of doubt or ignorance, let me make it categorically clear that if I have not learnt anything in the three years and three months I have been privileged to serve, under the impeccable leadership of this great Nigerian and extraordinary human being, it certainly is not his strength of character. This is a man whose determination and focus is further fuelled by criticism. The failure to support worthy leadership, and the oppression of it has been the bane of development in these climes. Both challenges however, do not apply to the intellectual par excellence, as he has the full backing of President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, to deliver his mandate, legal might, a formidable and competent team loyal to his cause and the support of millions of Nigerians. Every strategy, policy, reform, directive and action, is inextricably linked to the President’s three (3) point Agenda of National Security, Anti Corruption and A Digital Economy. He is effectively blocking the leakages deployed as conduit pipes to siphon national resources and shortchange the people, he is deploying technology to enhance security and address distress situations across the country, and of course doggedly pursuing the Digital Economy Agenda, with the strategy document in green mode already.
We are at a point in our nation’s history where business as usual cannot hold. The world is developing at the speed of light aided by technology and Dr Pantami is too busy, trying to make sure we are on board that train as a nation to reckon with, in the areas of innovation, capacity and infrastructure. He is too busy delivering his mandate to the millions of Nigerians who benefit daily from his mass-oriented leadership style. Those who cannot add value to the system should not sabotage the laudable efforts and achievements of those who are.
Pantami will not be oppressed or suppressed, he will not be intimidated and he will not abandon his mandate.
Uwa Suleiman is Spokesperson to the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.
Oniru Obaship Stool: Enough of lies, By Babatunde Olowu
It has become necessary to nip in the bud the vicious lies being shamelessly peddled by certain unscrupulous fellows who have allowed their greed to rob them of their senses. Where good people choose to stay away while untruths are being fed to the people, they (the good people) enable the ground upon which the truth is forever lost, actual history is interred and the lies become the new truths.
The desires of certain persons to illegally appropriate the currently vacant stool of Oniru of Iruland has foolishly caused them to fabricate history and feed their fabrications to the innocent members of the public. After several failed previous attempts at selling their fabrications to the people, they have invented a new one wherein they are claiming that a certain ruling house within the Oniru Royal Family had been occupying the Obaship stool of Oniru of Iruland for the past 75 (Seventy Five) years. This claim, we must say, is the height of falsity. That any lineage has been occupying the Obaship stool of Onri of Iruland for the past 75 (Seventy Five) years is both factually unfounded and legally ungrounded.
To set the record straight, it is a verifiable fact that there has been only 1 (one) Kabiyesi Oniru of Iruland from time immemorial till date. The Late Kabiyesi, Oba Abidoun Idowu Oniru has been the only Oba of Iruland till date. Therefore, we must not fail to ask these evil people who are hell bent on wanting the people to believe that the one family has been occupying the Obaship stool of Iruand for a phantom period of 75 years to please tell the world who the occupants are prior to the late Oba Abidoun Idowu Oniru. Just like in the case of Obaship of Ikate, only one Eleguishi of ikateland reigned before the present Oba who incidentally is the son of immediate past Oba.
To further expose the lies, prior to 1995 when the late Oba Abidoun Idowu Oniru was crowned as the first Oba of Iruland, what obtained was a chieftaincy position. One does not require any form of formal education in order to appreciate the difference between a king and a chief.
May we advise that rather than resorting to harmful lies, these peddlers of falsehoods may vie to be chiefs, if they so desire: the only obstacle is that even to become a chief in Iruland or anywhere else in Lagos State, integrity is key (a quality they apparently lack).
It is not much of a surprise that these unscrupulous fellows would take this path of dishonour and shamelessly seek to mislead our people: we know their antecedents. Persons that have built a culture out of deceiving people cannot change over night. As the saying goes: eefin ni iwa.
THE NEWS3 days ago
Keystone Bank to customers: Activate dormant account, get free debit card
THE NEWS3 days ago
AGF to DSS DG: Transfer Sowore’s case file to my office
THE NEWS2 days ago
How Minister of Power, Goddy Jedy Agba saved Nigeria from total blackout
THE NEWS11 hours ago
IBB not dead, hale and hearty – Spokesman
THE NEWS3 days ago
NITDA commences ICT training and empowerment for women in south west zone
THE NATION3 days ago
Dantata, Omoluwa, others bag United Nations Peace award
BUSINESS2 days ago
FirstBank announces the appointment of Alhaji Ado Yakubu Wanka as non-executive director
BUSINESS2 days ago
FCMB opens ultra-modern branch in Ondo City, Ondo State