With insecurity pervading almost all parts of the country, heightened by atrocities of Boko Haram terrorists in the North East, kidnappings, banditry and other crimes in other regions, these certainly are worrying times for Nigerians at home and abroad. Police stations, which used to be safe havens, have become the subject to attacks with police officers scampering for safety.
Abductions and killings of school children have risen beyond comprehension. Boko Haram has become more vicious and daring. Terrorism, insurgency, kidnapping, maiming, looting and raping have taken a turn for the worse. This is just as clashes between herders and farmers in some communities are taking new dimensions
Amid these, calls for secession and self-determination persist in some sections of the country, posing challenges to Nigeria’s democratic rule and unity. And having made a minimal success of dousing the tension across the nation, it naturally ought to be a herculean task for anyone in government to speak or appeal to the citizen on insecurity. Yet, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has remained optimistic about the country emerging from its current challenges ‘a greater and more united Nigeria,’ adding that, ‘God’s promise of greatness for the country will certainly come to fruition.’
Osinbajo has not just been speaking out with firm, but assuring messages of hope and assurance of government’s unrelenting efforts to tackle the security challenges, he has also held Security Council meetings with Service Chiefs and chaired a National Economic Council meeting with all governors in attendance where he urged them to immediately commence widespread dialogue and consultations to ensure resolution of the crisis in their domains.
The Vice President has repeatedly called for the implementation of state and community policing across the country if Nigeria is to achieve effective policing. He remains resolute about the nation getting over the myriad of challenges confronting it and optimistic it will rise above its trials and come out stronger.
To douse tension, Osinbajo has been taking the message of hope to the most troubled areas in the country, especially the southeast where some unidentified persons, suspected herders and secessionists have repeatedly been killing scores of people, attacking police stations and other public buildings, including correctional homes where hundreds of inmates were set free in Imo State. He has appealed to separatists in the southwest, where agitation for the Yoruba nation is gathering momentum to have a rethink, just as he has called on the people of the north to remain united in the fight against insurgency.
With the activities he is championing, many Nigerians have come to see Osinbajo as the face of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, especially with the impact he has to continue to make nationwide and beyond, in the discharge of his duties. Over time, not only does it seem that Nigerians have come to see him as the go-to leader, he seems to be brought into the spotlight whenever issues – good or bad – arise with the performance of the Buhari-led government.
President Buhari also seems to have placed so much faith in Osinbajo, much so that many achievements and significant milestones recorded under his administration have come from programmes and policies championed or driven by the Vice President. These include the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) before they were domiciled in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.
In 2020, the VP was saddled with the responsibility of chairing the Economic Sustainability Committee, which eventually drafted the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) of the government to mitigate the socioeconomic effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic on Nigerians. Since then, the ESP has helped to save millions of jobs and hundreds of thousands of businesses while providing a boost to the economy.
The impact of ESP goes beyond the economy to security, in the sense of securing livelihoods of Nigerians, even as it helped to stem likely uprisings that may have emanated from Nigerians who may have faced even more adverse effects from the fallout of the pandemic if not for the Sustainability Plan. Interestingly, ESP was credited as one of the major reasons Nigeria exited recession faster than other countries at the height of the pandemic.
Speaking at the 108th annual convention of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, Prof. Osinbajo reiterated his optimism that ‘Nigeria will become an oasis of peace, security and prosperity in Africa and beyond, despite its current challenges.”
According to the VP, the nation might be currently going through storms and adversity, but it will ‘overcome its challenges and realise its aspirations because of the promises of God regarding the outstanding greatness ahead…’
The VP, who spoke on the theme: “Moving Forward: Finishing the Race with Joy,” said: “This nation will be the epicentre of the astounding economic and scientific developments of the 21st century. We will create here in Nigeria, an oasis of peace, security and prosperity such as has never been seen before on this continent and beyond.
“Today, the clouds are overcast, the promise seems impossible as it was with the children of Israel after leaving Egypt to the promised land … but I am completely convinced that nobody, no group, no ideology, can defeat the promise of God for the greatness of Nigeria. I can see it clearly; I know it like my own face.”
Expressing optimism in the nation’s greatness, the VP, however, appealed to Nigerians to avoid allowing the current situation to shape their utterances or perception.
Also speaking with the All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders from the Southeast, particularly chieftains and members of Anambra State, he said Nigeria cannot afford a war and that elites in the country should rise and speak the truth against the forces of division to preserve the nation’s unity.
According to him, “we cannot afford a war in this country… it is the political elite that will determine what will take place. If we keep quiet, if we say nothing and hope that things will just normalise, we may be wrong. And we may find ourselves heading for something worse than we are seeing today.
“If the political elite does not speak up, if we allow it to continue to slide, we will endanger ourselves and endanger the future of our country. I know that every conflict is a result of elite’s failure to speak up and tell the truth to their communities; that is the cause of every civil conflict.”
Prof. Osinbajo recalled a personal experience he observed in Somalia in the 90s when he went there to work with the United Nations. He said, he saw a Supreme Court Justice whom he had known before queuing up for food in the aftermath of civil conflicts in the country.
He added: “Everyone who thinks they can go and hide somewhere; you won’t even find a place. In the end, everyone will suffer. Parents, children, young people and old people will suffer.”
Osinbajo’s approaches and interventions in national issues have interestingly been drawing plaudits, especially from youths on social media.
A Twitter user, identified as @ekpesfrancis retweeting what President George Weah of Liberia said of Osinbajo said: “You kept your country together in peace, while President Muhammadu Buhari was away. That is a good model for other Vice Presidents to follow.”
Also reacting to Osinbajo’s stance on national development, another youth identified as @PhilipsJames15 said: “Osinbajo’s ideas and initiatives have had impacts on the lives of many Nigerians.”
On his part, another user, @SugarG22, said: “What I like most among the many roles of the VP is that His Excellency, Yemi Osinbajo, knows how to address, intervene and successfully resolve volatile issues in a peaceful way in which all parties involved are happy.”
PhilipsJames15, said: “Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is the best VP ever. And his ideas have had great impacts such as the ESP that helped us out of recession.”
@KObambon: “Vice President #YemiOsinbajo is the only force sustaining Nigeria’s unity. Underrating him is like trying to break the last straw of Nigeria’s nationhood.”
Vice President Osinbajo knows how to walk the talk; undoubtedly his impact in the Buhari-led administration has been far-reaching. Despite the challenges in some areas, only a few Nigerians would doubt that Osinbajo keeps on delivering in his capacity as Vice President, all for the benefit of Nigerians and the country.
“We believe that we now have an opportunity to increase the numbers of new tribes of Nigerians; a tribe of men and women of all faiths, committed to a country run on high values, integrity, hard work, justice and love,” Osinbajo said at the 12th Bola Tinubu Colloquium recently.
Many analysts believe that the hope personified and expressed on different occasions about the great future of the country by the Vice President is one of the major things Nigeria needs, especially at a time like this when some say the country may be teetering at a fragile point of nationhood.