I am not going to parody Ibsen’s The Master Builder or Carlo Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters, rather I am going to do a straight talk; present the subject matter as it is. Our Acting President Professor Yemi Osinbajo is a Master Painter. He probably is the greatest painter in the world. And this should not surprise anyone who is familiar with Osinbajo’s intimidating curriculum vitae.
Right from youth Yemi Osinbajo had been a whiz kid, a child prodigy at the primary school, and at Igbobi College where his brilliance showed like the Northern Star. He was easily extra-ordinary and outstanding. His academic record at the University was equally dazzling and before anyone could say Zik, he had got himself a proud academic Chair before he turned 33. An incredible feat in his day.
He is a lawyer, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a professor to boot, he is an editor of serious academic journals and a reputable author of text books, he is a researcher of note; and he has earned for himself a great reputation in many other fields outside the confines of Law. One may then begin to wonder when he learnt the trade of painting and how without announcement or fanfare he rose to the status of the Master Painter.
Acting President Osinbajo did not start off as a painter as this narrative goes and if he has ever had anything to do with construction and civil engineering in metaphorical sense; he has proven himself to be a superb architect, structural engineer, quantity surveyor, bricklayer, carpenter, electrician, plumber, painter and interior decorator. Not given to bits and pieces Osinbajo has been a whole man, a complete doer, a finisher of projects. He has produced complete buildings of solid foundations.
The business of house painting did not happen until Jagaban Ahmed Tinubu dragged him to national prominence and lately to world stage first as Vice President and Acting President of the Unitary Fiefdom of Nigeria.
In his new but intermittent assignment as Acting President he found himself superintending over a dilapidated building which suffers inadequate and epileptic power supply. The building’s roof is partially gone with leaks all over the place. The walls have fallen in several places while most of the doors and windows have been removed or vandalized. Most of the furniture in the house had been plundered and the few that remain are in very poor and bad shape. Movements from one room to another or from the parlour to the kitchen are hardly possible. All the internal decorations have disappeared. Unfortunately and here is the tragedy, the building houses some of the best brains in the world. Underneath the building are rich minerals of stupendous value.
Osinbajo took it upon himself to present the building in a way that would make it attractive to outsiders so that investors might come to make something out of the dilapidated nonsense before them. Osinbajo is imbued with remarkable oratorical skills and good humour which he has combined to make a painter’s brush. He needs paint. He has deployed symposia, workshops, photo-ops and convincing marketing tools as paint.
Recently he added visits and visitations. He has gone to places where even devils were afraid to tread. He has been in the midst of fierce and vicious bomb-making-bomb-throwing Niger Delta self determination groups, he has been to the brutish and brutal Boko Haram enclaves, he has been to virtually all the nooks and crannies of the broken Fiefdom; the near-collapsed building.
To complete the cycle, Osinbajo went to the popular market in Abuja to see for himself where the shoe pinches. Osinbajo the painter has become hugely popular with the residents of the building about to collapse on their heads.
The hard part of the master Painter’s job is how to paint a building that is virtually torn apart. Where and how does he begin his delicate job? How does he make the building attractive to those who may risk putting the building together again and make it erect?
There is a dilemma. Is it not better, wiser and more cost effective to pull down the dilapidated building and start another one from the scratch? What is the sense of painting a sepulcher? This building before our eyes is virtually and practically gone. And to make matters worse there are cabals with diggers and bulldozers knocking down parts of the building any time attempts are made at reconstruction.
The master painter is undaunted. He has successfully painted the doors that have fallen apart. We must add though that the doors still need to be fixed to the frames, and the frames already perforated by termites also need fixing!
The master painter is set to paint the North Eastern wing of the building. This is the portion that is worst hit by the political and religious recklessness of the occupants of the building. He has brought his paints and his handy brush is about to be put to service. But there are so many thieves occupying that wing. How will his painting be effected without hindrance?
I am told he will be moving to the South-South wing of the building but he has to mind the mines and booby traps planted in his path. He is undaunted as I am told because he is also a prayer warrior. That is a bit I left out at the beginning of this narrative. Osinbajo is a prayer warrior and his wife, an Awolowo, is also a super prayer warrior. Osinbajo was set to be a successor in the Lord’s vineyard where I understand he has perfected the art and science of speaking in tongues before the lot of vice presidency fell on his lap. Perhaps this is one of the enabling factors that have strengthened the resolve of Osinbajo to take on this painting job. It is hoped that Osinbajo will succeed in this thankless painting job. And if my assessment of Osinbajo is anything to go by, the intellectual giant is likely to reconstruct the entire building, make it solid and enduring before quitting the stage.
There is a note of warning though. However much the building is painted and possibly reconstructed to stand, as long as it remains in the hands of the bulldozer-wielding cabal of wheelers and dealers, it will no sooner than later revert to its status as raped Fiefdom and the title of Unitary Fiefdom will stick before the eventual TOTAL and irretrievable COLLAPSE when all the components scatter.
Hearty Congratulations and Three Hearty Cheers to our serious minded but ever smiling and highly focused extraordinary intellectual giant for a painting job that has caught headlines nationally and internationally.