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Re: Yemi Osinbajo: this silence is deafening

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Nigeria’s vice president Yemi Osinbajo

The sheer disingenuity of the writer of the article titled, “Yemi Osinbajo: This silence is deafening,” which was published in The Guardian on August 20, is itself deafening, especially as the writer, Itunu Ajayi, claims to be a resident in Maryland, U.S., which reportedly has about the fastest internet access in the U.S.

One suspects that Ajayi maybe has chosen to be selective with the kind of news feed he receives via the Internet, social media and other platforms. If not, he would see that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has never been silent on the issues as the writer claimed. Probably the writer is just playing the ostrich, to have gleefully made, for some reasons, glaringly false claims, like they were gospel truth. Or he may simply be lying.

To say the Vice President has been silent on killings and kidnappings is to at once expose mischief and display ignorance. The VP has not just been speaking about these matters, he has led consultations – especially in the South West – to finding solutions to kidnappings and killings.

The last thing you can accuse Prof. Osinbajo of is silence on any issue of national concern. While you may even have occasions to interrogate his expressions, name any topic, this Vice President has remained actively engaged.

There are several instances where the VP spoke and condemned killings, banditry, kidnapping and crimes, while stating government’s resolve to address the issues.

In June last year, during a visit to Plateau State where he met with leaders and representatives of communities on the farmers-herders’ conflicts, Osinbajo emphasized that the Federal Government was determined to tackle security challenges and improve the nation’s security architecture.He said, “We must condemn killings of any kind. We are determined to face this challenge and secure the country more than ever before.”

During his U.S. trip in June, the VP noted that the Federal Government was collaborating with state governments and using technology to track kidnapping cases and fish out criminals.On July 8, during the public presentation of Chief Olusegun Osoba’s book, the Vice President reassured Nigerians that the administration is tackling security challenges through a multi-pronged approach.

He said: “We cannot condemn killings only when they touch our own because all of us share a common humanity. The challenge for us is to recognise this extremism for what it is, and to form alliances across faiths and ethnicities to destroy an evil that confronts us all. Fulani herder and farmer conflicts, random killings, banditry and kidnappings… Nobody will be allowed to maim, kill or commit other crimes and escape. It is our duty to apprehend and punish these criminals; we are doing that and will continue to do so.

Since the Buhari government was inaugurated in May 2015, Osinbajo has brought a different kind of verve to the Office of the Vice President like never seen before in the country’s history. President Muhammadu Buhari, like many other notable Nigerians, have commended the VP for his work and attested to his hard work, integrity, passion for people and commitment to service. Osinbajo has brought ordinary Nigerians closer to government, reaching out to them everywhere he goes, showing that this government truly cares for their welfare and the nation’s development. Osinbajo has added real quality and extra value, not only to Nigeria’s Vice Presidency, but into political leadership and governance in the Buhari administration. He embodies the essence of public service to the people.

In case the writer doesn’t know, the Vice President is the head of the Economic Management Team (EMT) in the Buhari administration. Under his leadership, government policies have rejuvenated the country’s economic environment and increased the confidence of foreign investors in the economy. Also, the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), which was inaugurated by President Buhari, is chaired by Osinbajo. Through PEBEC’s comprehensive plan to improve the country’s business environment, Nigeria moved up 24 places higher in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business index and received commendation as one of the top 10 reforming economies in the world.

Osinbajo is also chair of the National Economic Council (NEC) comprising governors of the 36 states, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and some senior government officials. NEC advises the President concerning the nation’s economic affairs, particularly on measures necessary for the coordination of economic programmes.

Osinbajo has also helped launch the administration’s Energizing Economies Initiative (of the Rural Electrification Agency), which drives economic growth by providing electricity (solar power) to economic clusters across Nigeria. So far, this has been successfully done in Sabongari market, Kano; Ariaria market in Aba and recently, the first of several solar power plants in universities was launched in August with the 2.8MW plant at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University in Ebonyi State, with other universities to benefit from such initiative in the next four years.

In the Niger Delta, the Vice President’s leadership has helped to usher in peace and stability into the once restive region, and so improve the country’s oil revenue. Gone are the days of militant attacks on oi installations and facilities.

After a meeting President Buhari had with leaders in the region in November 2016, Vice President Osinbajo, on behalf of the President, went on a tour of the Niger Delta in 2017, and had fruitful engagements with elders, leaders and stakeholders in the region on its development.

Through the VP’s interventions and engagements, the Niger Delta New Vision plan of the Buhari administration was birthed, to chart a map for general development of the Niger Delta. Since then, the Ogoni clean-up, which was neglected by previous administration, has since commenced; six modular refineries are at different stages of completion in the region, which will bring more economic opportunities and development to Niger Delta communities; the Maritime University in Okerenkoko in Delta State has taken off, and many other development projects are in the works to bring wholesome development to the region.

In a nutshell, Osinbajo’s leadership has not only helped rebuild trust in government in a region previously neglected, it has also contributed to its peace and stability and improving the economy.

A few weeks ago, Osinbajo, on the instruction of the President, commenced a series of meetings with traditional rulers in the South West to proffer solutions to security challenges posed by kidnapping, banditry and other crimes. This is in tandem with the Buhari administration’s resolve to improve security architecture nationwide. These meetings have had far reaching impact on resolving these security challenges.

Just to add, as Osinbajo is the deputy chairman of the National Security Council, so he also meets with the Service Chiefs and is a voice on issues pertaining to national security.Shouldn’t we also talk about the Vice President’s engagements with world leaders and global organisations that have helped improve the country’s image and attracted more investments into the country? In June, Osinbajo met with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and spoke On varying issues, including the administration’s efforts in tackling insurgency and terrorism in the North East and its determination to rescuing the remaining Chibok girls and Leah Sharibu, among other issues of mutual benefits in a deeper bilateral relationship between both countries.

Whether at home or abroad, the Vice President creates time during his trips from his busy schedules to interact with Nigerians, explaining issues around governance, while reiterating government’s commitment to fight corruption, improve security and the economy.

Also, the VP’s Family Chats is bringing a new dynamism to political campaigns in Nigeria, as the visits bring government closer to the people and assures citizens of the Buhari administration’s commitment to their welfare.

The Office of the Vice President oversees the administration’s National Social Investment Programmes (N-SIP), which is the largest social welfare scheme in Nigeria’s history. The N-SIP is improving the lives of millions of beneficiaries nationwide through schemes like N-Power jobs for young graduates and non-graduates; GEEP MarketMoni,FarmerMoni and TraderMoni loans for small businesses and petty traders; the Conditional Cash Transfer, which provides monthly stipends to the poorest and most vulnerable in society; and Home-Grown School Feeding Programme currently feeding almost 10 million school pupils in32 states.

A simple question for the writer: can you claim that ice cream isn’t sweet because you simply want to spite the owner of the ice cream shop?
Clearly not.

So, I would graciously offer Ajayi a gentle piece of advice – the kind you give to a pedestrian who’s right in front of a street sign, but yet asks for direction to the same street just to spite a stranger: Google is your friend. And that, for sure, is if you are really interested in knowing the truth.

 Umukoro is special assistant to the president on communications.


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Yemi Osinbajo
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