He is no less a child of providence, wielding power with alluring humility and exemplary focus. He has demonstrated with his life’s trajectory that spirituality, law and politics fundamentally address transformation of the human condition for good. To date, he unabashedly maintains this unique philosophy and footing.
Little wonder, the famous American poet and essayist, Maya Angelou, observed that “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” Angelou’s captivating insight into the existential challenges that confront great men in the making fundamentally captures the life story of Nigeria’s Vice President Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo, GCON, who notched 63 years of age on March 8.
The enthralling odyssey of Vice President Osinbajo further goes to validate the enduring wisdom that difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. An unwavering sense of loyalty and duty, rigorous erudition and professionalism, stern discipline, demonstrable integrity and almost a child-like faith in his beloved God had activated and enlisted those mysterious principles that guide progress.
In the academia, legal profession, faith arena, politics and even romance, these deep traits have meshed to win over the needed fundamental forces which interfaced to leverage his life’s journey.
Vice President Osinbajo has demonstrated that he is a personality and leader not swayed by extraneous emotionalism and parochial cant. Besides the statutory executive functions of the Vice President, which includes participation in all cabinet meetings and, by statute, membership in the National Security Council, the National Defence Council, Federal Executive Council, and the chairman of National Economic Council, he also handles other specific duties that the President, whom he enjoys a good rapport with, assigns.
As Acting President, when President Muhammadu Buhari officially handed over the reins of governance to him before proceeding to the United Kingdom on medical vacation on January 19, 2017, Osinbajo acquitted himself extremely well. This surprised many.
Besides directing tweaking of the foreign exchange policy, a move that strengthened the naira against the US dollar then, his expressed position that “Nigeria has no business with China if Aba is developed” was widely applauded and genuinely appreciated. The incessant communal wars between Cross River and Ebonyi states, between Ebonyi and Benue states and between Cross River and Akwa Ibom states also engaged his attention. Many may perhaps have forgotten that the Vice President’s shuttle diplomacy in the Niger Delta became a moderating balm.
The parameters for electing the Vice President in Nigeria do not specify sainthood as a key requirement. This humble servant-leader has never claimed he is one. His choice tacitly acknowledges the capacity of focused individuals to change their society for the better. For decades, he has provided clear, pragmatic leadership in diverse life arenas. Today, Osinbajo who has now been deservedly transformed into an active, circumspect and intellectually focused national political figure can do no less.
The position of Vice President carries considerable weight, especially in charting the course of progressive engagement with the critical elements in a democratic mix, especially so when the occupant enjoys the total confidence of Mr. President as Osinbajo undoubtedly does.
According to Henry Louis Gates, former leader of the African and American Research Institute at Harvard University, “People are afraid, and when people are afraid, when their pie is shrinking, they look for somebody to hate. They look for somebody to blame. And a real leader speaks to anxiety and to fear and allays those fears, assuages anxiety.”
Within the limitations of our extant peculiar political milieu, in his five years in office and counting, Vice President Osinbajo has spoken to national anxiety and to national fear and allayed those fears as well as assuaged the anxiety. This is his forte. Undeniably, fears and anxiety have been aplenty. We must also genuinely acknowledge that the implicit trust and total support of President Buhari has immeasurably contributed to the effectiveness of the nation’s sedate Second Citizen
Vice President Osinbajo is a professor of law, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, philanthropist and a notable spiritual leader. He was born on March 8, 1957, at Creek Hospital, Lagos. His early years in primary school were spent at Corona School, Lagos. Between 1969 and 1975, he attended Igbobi College, Yaba, where he was the winner of the State Merit Award (1971); the School Prize for English Oratory (1972); Adeoba Prize for English Oratory (1972-1975); Elias Prize for Best Performance in History (WASC, 1973); School Prize for Literature (HSC, 1975); and African Statesman Intercollegiate Best Speaker’s Prize (1974).
Thereafter, he studied for his undergraduate degree at the University of Lagos between 1975 and 1978, where he obtained a Second Class Upper Degree in Law. Here, he also won the Graham-Douglas Prize for Commercial Law. In 1979, he completed the mandatory one-year professional training at the Nigerian Law School whereon he was admitted to practice as a barrister and solicitor of Nigeria’s Supreme Court. In 1980, he attended the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he obtained a Master of Laws degree.
An accomplished scholar, teacher, lawyer and administrator, he is one of Nigeria’s leading experts on the Law of Evidence, National and Regional Corporate Commercial Laws and Public Law. In 1981, the University of Lagos engaged him as a lecturer. From 1988 to 1992, he was appointed as an sadviser (legal advice and litigation), to the then Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Bola Ajibola, KBE.
In 1994, he became a professor of law following which he was appointed head of Department of Public Law, University of Lagos. Between 1999 and 2007, he was member of cabinet of the Lagos State government, where he served as Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice. From 2007 to 2013, he was once again employed as a professor of law, Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos. In 2007, Osinbajo became Senior Partner at SimmonsCooper Partners, Nigeria (a commercial law practice).
He was Staff Member, United Nations Operations in Somalia, Justice Division, UNOSOM II. Member, United Nations Secretary General’s Committee of Experts on Conduct and Discipline of UN, Peacekeeping Personnel around the globe, Member, 2006. He was Partner in Law Firm of Osinbajo, Kukoyi & Adokpaye.
A member of the International Bar Association and the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, he has served on the Nigerian Body of Benchers and the Council for Legal Education of Nigeria.