FCT, Abuja - "Life is very unfair. Muhammadu Buhari -- tardy, uninspiring and limited in knowledge about his own country -- was a presidential candidate. Oluyemi Osinbajo -- smart, brilliant, urbane and charismatic – could only end up [as] his running mate."
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These were the words of government critic and celebrated investigative journalist, Fisayo Soyombo, in January 2019.
At the time, President Buhari and Professor Osinbajo, appeared at the presidential town hall meeting, tagged 'The Candidates' with the latter taking the shine off the Nigerian No.1 citizen. Many other social media users shared the same perception as Soyombo, as reported by The Punch.
It was not the last time Nigerians would see Osinbajo exude great intellect.
Amid the antagonism of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from a perceptible section of Nigerians, Osinbajo still won critics’ hearts during the ruling party’s presidential primary election in June 2022. The 'gentleman VP' had unsuccessfully bid to become Nigeria’s president – no thanks to his party's delegates.
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Earlier, in December 2018, during the vice-presidential debate organised ahead of the 2019 general elections, Osinbajo dazzled watchers.
As he leaves office after serving alongside a much-vilified president, what will Osinbajo be remembered for? Legit.ng runs you through some of the points.
1. Osinbajo’s North East Children's Trust
The North East Children's Trust (NECT) is Osinbajo’s initiative, aimed at providing educational and extensive-care support to 10,000 children orphaned by the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeastern region of Nigeria.
On Wednesday, March 8, 2023, alongside his wife, Dolapo, the outgoing vice-president was in Maiduguri, Borno state, to spend the day at the NECT. It was his last birthday in office but also a signal that his empathy would be crystal long after life in the presidency.
2. Noteworthy compassion for Biafra
The painful legacy of the Nigerian-Biafran War runs deep in the country.
As acting president during the Buhari administration, Osinbajo attended a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the Nigerian-Biafran War in 2017, a deed his admirer, Prof Chidi Odinkalu, described as “a powerful personal symbolism and message of national healing”.
It is a contrast to his boss’ demeanour: Nigerians would not forget his ‘abusive’ Biafra tweet in a hurry.
Odinkalu wrote in a piece published in March:
“In a regime short on any notable displays of empathy for a traumatised country, he (Osinbajo) never lost sight of the pastoral role of government.”
3. Osinbajo’s sack of ‘powerful’ Daura
While acting as president, Osinbajo, in August 2018, sacked the Director General (DG) of the Department of State Service (DSS), Lawal Daura, one of the most powerful kitchen cabinet members of the administration, following the ‘unauthorised’ invasion of the National Assembly by operatives of the secret police. Daura was also arrested.
Reports at the time said the sacking and arrest of Daura angered the cabal (groups of influential individuals who wield considerable power and influence within Nigeria's political sphere).
4. Osinbajo’s order for disbandment, overhaul of SARS
Before the extraordinary EndSARS protests of 2020, the hashtag for the campaign was first used in 2017 - to raise awareness of allegations of violence and exploitation by now-defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) officials.
The following year (2018), Osinbajo ordered that the police unit be disbanded and overhauled while he was acting as president. However, the EndSARS clamour died down when the substantive president, Buhari, re-assumed duties.
The SARS unit continued with its highhandedness and human rights violations, leading to the October 2020 second wave of End SARS.
5. Osinbajo's loyalty to his boss
Nigeria has had at least one leadership tainted with President-VP rancour, but in all the eight years at the helm, Osinbajo was unarguably loyal to his boss – as acknowledged by the president himself.
In a message conveyed through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, during Osinbajo’s birthday in 2022, President Buhari said:
“His (Osinbajo) loyalty and dedication to duty have been most exemplary.”
Buhari repeated the same applause this year.
Meanwhile, the outgoing vice president was also sometimes in the news for the wrong reasons.
6. Osinbajo's ‘problematic’ presidential ambition
When Osinbajo declared to run for the office of the president in April 2022, he ruffled political feathers.
By declaring, he was contesting against his political benefactor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is today Nigeria’s president-elect, many supporters of the former Lagos state governor view his decision as an act of betrayal.
7. Osinbajo’s failure to think about balancing his team along religious lines
Farooq Kperogi, the enfant terrible professor of Nigerian origin based in the United States of America (USA), managed to nail the outgoing VP on his alleged bigoted theocratic politics.
Osinbajo, a pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), according to Kperogi, had lined up all his religious companions for appointments (Osinbajo was a presidential hopeful). Kperogi calls it RCCGification.
Although it was the diaspora-based Professor’s perspective, the ‘revelation’ portrayed Osinbajo in a bad light.
May 29: Buhari orders Osinbajo, Malami, others to declare assets
Earlier, Legit.ng reported that President Buhari ordered Osinbajo; the attorney-general of the federation, Abubakar Malami; and other members of his cabinet to declare their assets.
President Buhari issued this directive at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Friday.
The President also became the first person to collect his asset declaration form from Professor Isah Mohammed, Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).