Re: Another sermon on Professor Yemi Osinbajo
I refer to the opinion piece by Abraham Ogbodo, Editor of The Guardian, which was published in The Guardian On Sunday of December 30, 2018, titled, ‘Another Sermon on Professor Yemi Osinbajo.’
The first paragraph gave the writer away as being on a revenge mission with his pen, and his later quest for satire falls flat on its face. With painstaking efforts, the article aforementioned, instead of coming off as an intellectual exercise, exposed the bias of the writer. Unlike Ogbodo’s diatribe, let us address the issues he tried to twist out of context due to his compromised stance against the good works of the Vice President.
They say plain truth needs no flowers of speech. Fact is Vice President Osinbajo is one of the most hardworking Vice Presidents Nigeria has ever had. Fact is VP Osinbajo performed creditably in the Vice Presidential debate, backing up his argument with sound facts and figures; while Peter Obi, reeled off a trail of lies and concocted falsehood to hoodwink the public. It is on record that Obi made at least 10 false claims during the live debate; one being that Nigeria has only 2 million vehicles. But data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), noted that Nigeria’s estimated vehicle population, as at the second quarter of 2018 is over 11 million. Even if as claimed, the writer missed the fine moments from the debate, did he also miss the bare-faced deception and lies projected on live television by his preferred candidate from the PDP? Did he also miss the fact checks done by the media of which he is a stakeholder?
In a bid for satire, Ogbodo questioned VP Osinbajo’s selfless service to the nation, and his commitment to the welfare of the ordinary Nigerian through the TraderMoni scheme, which provides N10,000 collateral and interest-free loans to petty traders nationwide. Ten thousand naira might not mean much to the likes of writer, who has juicy privileges, but it means a lot to 1.2 million petty traders in 36 states, who are bottom of the rung, but contribute to the country’s informal economy, and are so far beneficiaries of the micro-credit loan that helps to improve their businesses.
The writer, again, took cheap shots by describing the TraderMoni loans as ‘osusu’, and subtly rehashing old allegations that the micro-credit scheme is vote buying. This issue has been repeatedly clarified in the media and public space. But if the writer had missed this moment, I would kindly ask his permission to remind him again: TraderMoni is under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), a part of this administration’s Social Intervention Programme, which was set up in 2016 as a critical platform to financially empower micro businesses, (traders, artisans, market women, petty traders). TraderMoni, conceived in 2016, is not vote buying, and it is not electoral fraud. Also, it is an insult to Nigerians to claim such, especially to those who are direct beneficiaries. It is obvious that the writer, like the PDP which he gleefully supports, is riled by the social impact that the micro-credit scheme is having nationwide. Pray, should he prefer that the billions be shared to his PDP cronies as had been done in the past administration, to the detriment of hard-working Nigerians?
Again, beneficiaries of TraderMoni are not required to show their Personal Voters Cards (PVCs) or any document to show proof of their political affiliations to qualify for the interest-free loans. This is why the enumeration is done in the open markets and wherever the traders ply their trade.
The issue of the N5.8 billion emergency fund for the North-East has been clarified in the public space. One wonders why the editor of a reputable media house like The Guardian would rather play the ostrich in the face of facts, which are sacred in journalism, the profession which he has practised for about three decades. The fact is there was no violation of any kind. NEMA held press conferences and issued statements to prove how the money was spent, showing the entire process from supplies to the distribution to the IDPs and how it was monitored by the nation’s security agencies.
Unlike Ogbodo alleged, the Vice President is not working for himself, but for the good of the country. He has shown this selfless attribute throughout and continues to show that he is committed to the welfare of the common man, just like President Buhari is. The VP has never nursed any political ambition, rather he is driven by public good and selfless service to the nation. He did not lobby to become Vice President, but the assignment was thrust upon him, and which he has been carrying out diligently and with dedication to the cause of the nation. So, insinuating that the VP was trying to buy the presidential slot for 2023 with Southwest votes for Buhari, is not only laughable, it is disappointing that it is coming from an editor who should know better.
Not only that, it is sheer mischief to even compare TraderMoni, a microcredit scheme that helps to improve the businesses of petty traders, with Fayose’s so-called ‘stomach infrastructure’ in Ekiti State when the latter was governor. While the writer admits that Fayose’s was a ‘money-sharing’ scheme, his attempt to lob the TraderMoni into his mischievous description was not only laughable, but false. It is a crying shame to try to denigrate a microcredit scheme that ordinary Nigerians are benefiting from, one that improves their businesses and welfare, and so the informal economy.
One thing the writer failed to acknowledge is that the Vice President is a man of strong principles. And unlike him, the VP does not sway like a leaf in the winds of political seasons. And if the stewardship of VP Osinbajo is appraised, these attributes that have defined his career for decades would certainly ring true; integrity, patriotism, selfless public service, dedication to humanity, love for the common man and to improve their welfare.
Ogbodo has shown where his sympathies lie, but his repeated attacks on the Vice President with unfounded claims are ways off the mark.
• Umukoro is the Special Assistant to the President On Communications Projects, Office of the Vice President
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