An evening with the Vice President (Nigeria) - CVIEW NEWS

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Thursday, 27 August 2015

An evening with the Vice President (Nigeria)

*Security, social empowerment top our priority

By Dotun Ibiwoye
Before becoming a politician, Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo was first and foremost a lawyer. He would have loved to practice law in its true sense but ended up in the academia as a law teacher. He is still nostalgic about advocacy even when he knows that the possibility is remote.
“I want to say a special thank you to Prof Akin Oyebode, he was my inspiration to teach law. I’ve always seen my self as an advocate, that is seeing myself as a lawyer who will practice in the court but the person who persuaded me – just by conduct – was Prof Oyebode. He didn’t speak to me about. I remember walking into his international law class, a jurisprudence class where he was teaching the sociological school. I remember that he means so well and taught the class excellently. When I walked out of the class, I made up my mind that I will teach law.”
Corporate community
As Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who came on the crest of a popular vote, Professor Osinbajo knows the weight of expectations from the masses is high. His background as one from the academia has not helped matters as his admirers believe he should provide answers to the myriad of problems bedeviling the country.
Osinbajo resumes in office
At a gathering of mostly those from the academia, professionals of different callings, journalists and the corporate community, Professor Osinbajo did not mince words while enumerating government’s priorities. He spoke on poverty, insecurity, education and how to turn the economic fortunes of the country around.
The VP was in his element when he cracked not a few ribs with his jokes. He turned to Professor Taiwo Osupitan and said, “Of course we still have a few scores to settle. He is an Ijebu man like me and he knows I don’t forget any money that is due to me. He must not forget, especially now that I am in public service. Most importantly, he must not forget that I am on half salary.”
He assured his immediate community(the academia) that he would ever remain accessible and to his ‘sister’, Professor Chioma Agonma, “no matter what, I will always call her.”
The VP said government had confidence in the Nigerian military, particularly in its war against terror group, Boko Haram. “We have the wherewithal to take this country to where it belongs. The Chief of Defence Staff has responded appropriately by saying that the military is capable.
We as a government would give them the necessary backing and we are aware of the problems they are confronted with – like poor equipment and low morale. But this is being addressed.
Osinbajo noted that the change mantra has gone so global that the international community is also anticipating the transformation.
Speaking at   dinner organised in his honour by the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, weekend, the Vice President said that educated people in the country also have special roles to play in the transformation of Nigeria.
According to him, the expectations from the international community was known to him when he recently delivered a paper abroad and several other invited guests converged around him after delivering the paper asking him about the change which the international community is anticipating.
He also said that government would continue to initiate policies and programmes that would impact on the lives of the majority.
“The difference between this government and any other is that we have made certain promises about social protection in particular, about protection, about poverty, about taking people out of poverty and I said that we made clear and specific commitment on this issue that has never happen before, he said
“One of the things that struck me as we campaigned is the great responsibilities that we have. We the academia are an extremely privileged community. In many ways we have the training, we have the knowledge, we have everything that it takes to take our country out of where it is and to put our country right there on the map.
Problems of poverty
“I do not believe for one moment that we need to be in political office to do so; there are so many different ways that we can make serious contribution. Of course it helps if we are in political office, but I think that there are so many different ways, so many different outlets for us to focus our minds on solving the problems of poverty.”
It is a much bigger challenge because that number of people are not just extremely poor, many of them lack education. I was in Borno State to visit the IDPs in the camps. One of the most frightening things that I’ve seen especially going around some of those states is the fact that so many people are completely illiterate, especially women and when I say completely illiterate, you can imagine someone who lives in the north and does not even speak Hausa.
“That’s the level of illiteracy we are talking about. That you are living up there in the north and you only speak a local dialect, you don’t even speak Hausa let alone English or any other language. That’s the kind of situation that our country is in especially in terms of a broader picture and I think that for those of us who are academics and professionals, it is a great challenge to us to generate answers/big ideas that would solve these problems. We, who are there are all ears to whatever ideas/thoughts you may have about these issues.”
The vice president observed, “Over time, I have come to recognise the incredible responsibility that we have, especially those of us who are professionals.
Political office
And I think that in many ways we have the training, we have the knowledge and everything that it takes to take our country out of where it is and put it where it belongs on the map and I do not believe for one moment that we need to be in a political office to do so.
“There are so many different ways by which we can make a serious contribution. It helps if we are in political offices but I think there are so many things we can do, so many different outlets for us to focus our minds on solving the problems of poverty.”
On the deadline given the military to end terrorism in the North East, Prof. Osinbajo said it was achievable, adding that what President Buhari did was pass a presidential order to the newly appointed service chiefs, who he said, have also expressed their willingness to execute same.
“I know that it is entirely possible, I know that they can do it and we have a great military, we know that there have been problems such as lack of equipment and resources, but that’s a problem that we have to deal with as we go along.
“We have to fix the car while the engine is running, you cant say we are going to wait until we get all the equipment before we do it. We have to fix this car while the engine is running, that is what we are doing now”

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