The Vice President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), has said that the foundation to building a new Nigeria is already being laid, but it further requires a growing new tribe of Nigerians that are willing to make the sacrifices and self-constraints crucial to building a strong society, and are prepared to stick together, fight for equity and justice.
He stated this while speaking at the 12th Bola Ahmed Tinubu Colloquium with the theme: “Our Common Bond, Our Common Wealth: the imperative of national cohesion for growth and prosperity.” The colloquium, conceived by Prof. Osinbajo as a platform to celebrate the former Lagos State governor, holds every year since 2009, except last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic
President Muhammadu Buhari, who also participated in the Colloquium virtually, in his remarks, noted that “notwithstanding our diversity of ethnicity, culture, language, and religion, Nigerians are better together, even stronger together. Asiwaju himself is a known advocate of unity and cohesion in Nigeria; this has been a constant factor in his outstanding political career.”
The Vice President participated in the event virtually after weather conditions changed his travel plans to Kano.
“This would be my first colloquium where I will not be physically present at the venue. Several of us did the best we could from Abuja to get to Kano this morning, but bad weather certainly gave us so much difficulty that we were unable to fly there,” he disclosed.
On building a new Nigeria, Prof. Osinbajo stated that the 12th Colloquium presented a golden opportunity to “increase the numbers of a new tribe of Nigerians,” which he described as “a tribe of men and women of all faiths, tribes, and ethnicities, committed to a country run on high values of integrity, hard work, justice and love of country,” a theme he is noted to have articulated in several speeches.
He added that this was “A tribe of men and women who are prepared to make the sacrifices and self-constraints that are crucial to building a strong society; who are prepared to stick together, fight for equity and justice side by side. A tribe consisting of professionals, businessmen, politicians, religious leaders, and all others who believe that this new Nigeria is possible. And already, we are building the building blocks for this new Nigeria.”
According to the VP, despite the various socio-economic challenges worsened by the fallouts of a global pandemic, he urged Nigeria to avoid stoking tendencies, viewpoints, and opinions that threaten the federation and our unity.
“The colloquium as usual bets on Nigeria and its creative and resilient people. Our theme this time – Our Common Bond, Our Common Wealth – focuses on peacebuilding and national cohesion. We intend to interrogate from a National and regional perspective innovative strategies for sustaining peace, and prosperity in a heterogeneous society,” he said.
The Vice President further stated that the Colloquium, which is being hosted in Kano – outside Lagos or Abuja for the first time – was a pointer that Nigeria’s diversity is better harnessed as a strength to further unite Nigerians.
Prof. Osinbajo commended the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, for hosting the colloquium, stating that it further deepens the essence of national unity.
“Only a few days ago, we were set to have a completely virtual colloquium with a hub in Lagos, the customary location of the Colloquium, when Governor Ganduje graciously offered to host the physical aspect of the hybrid Colloquium,” he noted.
According to Prof. Osinbajo, “by this gesture, Governor Ganduje has helped us to tell two stories. First is that it is befitting that Kano should be that place, this city of radical and progressive ideas and ideologies; a city whose leading political lights have been left of centre, which is the dominant tendency within our great party the All Progressives Congress.
“Secondly, it helps us to underscore the point that this country and its people are stronger and more powerful together than apart. For the purveyors of breaking up into small components perhaps they should be reminded that we would not have been able to accept Governor Ganduje’s offer to come to Kano at short notice since we would all have needed visas to come to Kano.”
The VP further noted that the colloquium has become an institution in honor of an institution, which Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has become.
He added that Asiwaju’s leadership has helped groom great leaders and people in society.
He said, “It was Barrister Ismaeel Ahmed at the 9th colloquium in Abuja, who said so insightfully and I quote, that, ‘there is perhaps no Nigerian leader who has been as instrumental in raising as many leaders as Asiwaju.’ This explains why gathered here today is a serving Vice President, several governors, former governors, commissioners and former commissioners, honourable Ministers, former Ministers, local government functionaries, social agitators, top-ranking journalists who can trace their careers and political trajectories to Asiwaju’s leadership. What is responsible for this phenomenon, is Asiwaju’s leadership style, and it is an unusual one, especially in developing democracies.”
Prof. Osinbajo noted that Asiwaju’s leadership style was based on the power of ideas, and the latitude to engage a variety of brilliant and creative ideas on several fronts.
He explained: “Central to that style are the following, first a belief that development, economic, social, political development depends on enabling a contest of ideas. Whether that is within a political party or its caucuses, a cabinet meeting or even just thinking through a problem. By exposing his thoughts and ideas constantly to debate and contestation he refines his views constantly and is at the cutting edge of issues as varied as Artificial intelligence, vaccines, to even what sort of legal processes or arguments should be filed in a matter in court!
“Secondly, And perhaps more importantly because he is not afraid of having his ideas scrutinized, criticized by even his subordinates, he is able to lead a vast array of persons of strong, deeply held convictions, and a variety of ideologies.
“The third is that he is completely comfortable engaging across, ethnic, religious, and partisan divides. It is his belief that national development is only possible where we, the leaders are constantly interrogating ideas, perspectives, and opinions, which is what led some of us who worked with him through the years to formalize our constant debates….so that on his birthday we open up discussions on some issue or Issues of National importance.”
The 12th colloquium, which was a hybrid event – virtual and physical, held on the ground in Kano State where the celebrant and the State Governor, alongside several other dignitaries, were present. It was also broadcast live at several viewing centres, including in Lagos and Abuja.
Dignitaries who attended the Colloquium, chaired by President Buhari, include President George Weah of Liberia; and former President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. Also present were various state governors, ministers, and senior government officials.
The keynote address was delivered by Prof. Dan Rodrik, a Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; while the panel discussion was moderated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema. The panelists included President Weah; Dr. Koroma; Mohamed Yahaya, Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Amaka Anku, Practice Head, Africa Eurasia Group, Washington DC; and Nimdir Nansoh, Founder/CEO, HoP Africa.
Also Read: Buhari Never Promised to Make #1 Equal to $1 – Femi Adesina