Saturday, January 31, 2015

Meeting Professor Yemi Osinbajo By Gimba Kakanda

For a citizen who had been dazzled by the unusual campaigning strategies of APC’s Vice Presidential candidate, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, an invitation to see him in flesh, and to hear him explain the ambitious policies collated in his party’s widely circulated manifesto, which took place at the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, on January 26, was the highpoint of my week. The meeting was organised, in the words of the organisers, as “an interactive session between Professor Yemi Osinbajo and the youth, opinion leaders, and active civil  society leaders from Abuja and other northern states” and it was indeed an engaging session, moderated by Mr Chris Ngwodo, one of the most outstanding and cerebral young intellectuals in Nigeria today.

Having listened to our guest, and also to his responses to questions ranging from how they intend to sustain their welfare system, down through how they intend to carry out civil service reforms, because right-sizing has always been a dreaded approach among Nigerians with no other alternative source of income aside from this charitable organisation we call Civil Service, to how they intend to solve our power problems, I had to give praise to the Lord for not being tortured by a “stealing is not corruption” logic. His responses, even with the limited time, were honest and perceptive. He did not promise miracles, just the will and passion to serve as one of a clique of politicians determined and passionate about the welfare of the Nigerian. Of his principal, General Buhari, he expressed absolute confidence in his ability to reform the system and to revive our institutional and cultural discipline.
I don’t see them as extraordinary at all. There’s nothing extraordinary about Buhari, Osinbajo, and their political partners. They do not have two heads, not even bigger sizes of brains. What they do have, however, is the challenge to do better than the current administration, because they’ve seen the limit of our patience, which now inspires our fierce antagonism of this incumbent. Some of their policies, foreseeably, may not be implementable, and, even if they are, not really sustainable. But it’s easy to hold that theirs may not be worse than this government that, instead of taking responsibility for wrongs recorded under it, antagonises well-meaning critics and political opponents.

Professor Yemi Osinbajo has shown that he’s the opposite of everything represented by Architect Namadi Sambo, the current occupant of the Office to which he aspires. And if Namadi Sambo were a perceptive politician, possessing the conceptual skills of Osinbajo, he could’ve done better than just always wearing agbada and tailing his boss all over Nigeria like some traditional bodyguard. If he were as smart as his potential successor, he wouldn’t have been this heavy baggage; he would’ve pulled off that Agbada and embarked on a political evangelism in the north, long before Osinbajo initiated the people-oriented strategy in the south, going from stalls to stalls!

I mean, Nigerians lose the use of their intellects when “befriended” by even the most notorious politicians with the affectation of humility – as discerned on social media. Has Sambo ever held even a town hall meeting to “share ideas” with the “masses” or visit grief-stricken relatives of compromised security arrangements under them? A visit to Chibok at the time a people’s daughters were abducted could’ve boosted the morale of those people.

And instead of maintaining a respectable and humanizing communication with the unhappy people who brought them to power, some of whom had tried to give them benefit of the doubt, they employed a trio of intolerably indecorous media aides –Reuben Abati, Doyin Okupe, and Reno “Wendel Similin” Omokri – to insult every Nigerian, both political and apolitical, who seeks explanation for why things keep getting worse. You can’t be so disrespectfully condescending to the people, squandering the last specks of your goodwill, and expect them to volunteer as foot-soldiers of your bid to remain in the very Office that made you disrespect them and theirs. This is commonsense, and for many Nigerians who had had such sorry encounters with these agents of an elected leader, it’s that experience of humiliating engagements, that this Presidency is inefficient, ineffective, insensitive and insensible, that inspires them now to advocate for its replacement!

As we agitate for a new Nigeria, we must be wary of accepting every clown that manoeuvres to the conscience of the people on Buhari’s coattails, which is already being exploited by several APC candidates for the forthcoming General Election. The worse of these clowns who must be resisted are those defecting politicians, especially those who lost the PDP primaries, terminating their aspirations to vie for, or return to, an elective Office, and thought the wisest way to redeem their image is by defecting to APC. I don’t get it. It is one thing to leave a party after losing a long fight to redeem it, and it’s another to defect for failing to entrench your personal will. Leaving a party immediately after losing out only portrays you as an incautious opportunist.

Contrary to some people’s perception, I’m not for complete replacement of PDP by the APC; I’m only for a political system in which both parties are almost of equal structure and strength, both trying to be the best groom, knowing that a misdemeanor means being replaced by the aspiring opponent. We will face a repeat of PDP’s misrule if we welcome every Hassan, Oladele and Chukwudi fielded by APC. We need a diversity of options; APC here, PDP there, without any succeeding in dominating the other, only in competing to offer Nigerians their best. May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda


Buhari'll lead military to fight Boko Haram - Osinbajo

The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) will lead the military to the North-East to fight the Boko Haram insurgents if voted into power on February 14, his running mate, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), said on Monday.

Osinbajo expressed concern over deepening insecurity in the country and accused President Goodluck Jonathan of reneging on his promise to protect Nigerians.
Fielding questions from a group of youths at a town hall meeting in Abuja, the APC vice presidential candidate said Buhari as President and Commander-In-Chief would lead by example.
The town hall meeting held under the aegis of Act Now Professionals.
Osinbajo told the gathering how the Buhari-led government would end insurgency in the country, especially in the North-East states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
He also explained how the APC-led government would rescue the over 200 female students of Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, seized since April 14 2014; equip the military and give the country a sense of protection.
Osinbajo said, “The first priority is security and to question what has gone wrong in the military. Then, funding the military adequately and ensuring that the Commander-In-Chief leads from the front. But when he was Commander-In-Chief, Buhari led from the front as a soldier. You cannot lead from the rear. You cannot fail to go to where the insurgency is taking place and that is what Buhari has been saying.
“I think that the major problem with the question of security is again that it was not prioritised by this government. It was not taken seriously enough from the beginning. When you have a situation, you do not politicise the insurgency like that. You do not point to the opposition and say it is the opposition that is sponsoring it until General Buhari almost lost his life when Boko Haram attacked him.

“We must start by understanding that there is a war going on in that part of the country and what the government need to do is to get the nation behind it, not pointing accusing fingers at wrong places.

“We need to look at the whole question of funding and equipping the military. The military at the moment is not equipped. I worked with Femi Falana on the mutiny of some solders and what is the complaint of those soldiers who were charged with mutiny? Their complaint is that they were not given equipment and they wanted them to go to battle. So, how do you say that? How does anybody think that you can fight the insurgents without ammunitions?”

The APC vice presidential candidate said that there would be no hiding place for perpetrators of graft as the country’s laws that forbid looting of public treasury would be activated.
According to him, the APC will run a transparent government where public officials would be accountable to the people.
Osinbajo said creation of jobs for the country’s youths remained on top of the agenda of the APC if elected into office.

“Jobs and creation of employment opportunities have been major issues in the manifesto of the APC,” he told the audience.
He re-echoed the party’s earlier promise that the Buhari-led government would place jobless and poor Nigerians on monthly stipends of N5,000 and N7,000 respectively.

“The idea is to take 2.5 million people out of poverty every year. We will give free healthcare to children. We will follow the example of Osun State where such has been done successfully,” he said.


Monday, January 26, 2015


attendees at press conference


I welcome everyone to this press conference, and thank you for finding the time to be here despite your other engagements.

Nigeria is in the grip of election fever because of the imminent General Elections scheduled to commence February 14, 2015. There is a lot of tension in the air as the atmosphere has become charged with hot currents of partisan politics. It is the season of muck-raking, mud-slinging, name-calling, heated arguments, wild accusations and wilder counter-allegations as various interest groups jostle for power, either to claim it or to retain it in various political offices in the executive and legislative arms of government at the State and Federal levels. More unfortunately, pre-election violence has started to break out. There are reports of attacks on supporters of rival groups involving deaths, infliction of grievous bodily injuries, wanton destruction of properties, arson, etc.

This certainly is not the way to go. All leaders and controllers of political parties must do their utmost to curtail, even stop all these violent, uncivilized modes of electioneering. Questing for political office is not warfare among barbarians where annihilation of enemies at all cost is the prime objective. People who are genuinely interested in serving a community cannot be interested in dislocating, disrupting or even destroying that same community.

Our politicians must not turn and should not be allowed to turn our dear country into a war zone and a killing field. To this end, we call on all security agencies to eschew partisanship and embrace professionalism in the discharge of their duties. Violence is an ill wind that blows no one any good. Let all security heads and officials know that they are agencies set up for the protection of the STATE and not to serve the interests of any political party or any other group. Security agencies destroy themselves when they become puppets in the hands of selfish, unpatriotic political office holders using them to serve political interests.


There has been quite a stir and prolonged controversy over the issue of the Secondary School Certificate of General Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). According to the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and some other quarters, General Buhari should not be allowed to contest the elections, because he does not have the requisite educational status to qualify to run for the office of President.

The PDP claims specifically that the General does not have a School Leaving Certificate or that the one the General claims he has is a forged document. Only yesterday, a group of lawyers speaking in Abuja joined the fray on the side of the PDP and called for the arrest of General Buhari.

Incidentally, General Buhari has long been cleared by the organizers of the elections, the INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTION COMMISSION (INEC) to run as the presidential flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress.

In reaction to the allegations against him, the General has maintained that he graduated Secondary School in Katsina in 1961 and he has mentioned the names of some of his classmates including Justice Umar Abdulahi, former President of the Court of Appeal who has corroborated this claim. Another corroboration came from Generl Aliyu Gusau, National Security Adviser.

Our position on this matter is that the entire imbroglio is unnecessary, uninformed where not mischievous, mischievous, where not informed.

Section 318 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which governs the qualification to aspire to Nigeria’s presidency provides as follows:…

From the foregoing, one of the several important consequences stand out:

(1)   The qualification space as regards education is very relaxed. The spirit of the law here is an emphasis on actual knowledge and competence above mere documentary or paper certification.

(2)   To this extent, an extensive interpretation or definition of what constitutes School Leaving was given. Also, one could see that the constitutional prescription of educational status is on MINIMUM ENTRANCE. Evidence abounds that General Buhari in the least can speak and write in English. This is a notorious fact as we say in law that needs no proof before a court of law. And the constitution must have the capacity to use the English Language (the language of officialdom in Nigeria) to the satisfaction of INEC.

Of course, evidence also abounds that the General attended and graduated from various military institutions abroad before and after becoming a commissioned officer. And according to Professor Itsey Sagay SAN, a respected constitutional law expert, a diploma in the Military College is the equivalent of Masters Degree.

While we concede the right of having a contrary view on the Buhari Certificate issue, we assert that all those against General Buhari have not used the proper and lawful portal to ventilate their grievances. That portal is the Court of Law, not street marches, press conferences and soap boxes.

It appears to us that what the opponents of the General want now, in the face of the imminent defeat of the incumbent, is a Walk Over. They do not fancy contest again because of the real and apparent fears and dangers of defeat at the polls.


after press conference

There is now a call or clamour from certain quarters, particularly the PDP, for a shift in the date of the elections. The reason cited is that INEC is not ready for the elections as many people are yet to receive their PVC, the enablement to vote. INEC has however maintained that it will go on with the elections as scheduled, starting with the presidential elections. We support INEC. Instead of postponing the elections, INEC should redouble its efforts and meet their targets.

Adesina Ogunlana                                              

National Coordinator

Saturday, January 24, 2015

How I overcame my initial FEAR over my husband’s choice as Buhari’s running mate—Osinbajo’s wife Dolapo

Wife of the vice presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, is the founder of Women’s Helping Hands, a non-governmental organisation passionate about empowering battered women and victims of sexual abuses.  She spoke with SUNDAY OGUNTOLA on her husband’s aspiration, her family life and the Nigeria of her dream. Excerpts:

What was your initial reaction when you heard that your husband was going to be nominated as All Progressives Congress (APC) vice presidential candidate?

My initial reaction was that of apprehension.


Because I knew I would have to share him with others, I mean political associates, official functions and all the likes. And I would rather have him to myself alone. So, that was my initial reaction.

So, how were you able to overcome that?

I guess I realised that the handwriting was always on the wall; that this was what he is being prepared for. If you look at what he has done over the years, you will realise that the Lord was preparing him for a time like that. I realised and remembered that. That put my fears aside and I told myself I had to allow the Lord do what He wants to do with him.

I shouldn’t be selfish but release him to accomplish for Nigeria what God has been putting in his heart. His works, like I said, over the years and his experiences in public life have all pointed to the fact that he is a man for a season like this.

So, are you comfortable so far?

With what?

With how the campaigns have gone so far and how the APC is moving on?

Comfortable is not a word you can use at this point, considering what the nation is right now. But in terms of the campaign, yes, things are being done in a noble way. Things are different from what they used to be in the past. I believe that things will take a turn for the best for this nation.

Do you believe he is up to the task ahead?

I don’t think I am in the best position to answer that (laughter). But I think he is the best man in the whole world. One thing I can say is that we have been married for the past 25 years and every day, I get to respect him the more. He is very kind and lovely. I have never met a man more caring than he is. He is the most caring person I have met.

There are things Nigerians don’t know about him that only you can tell us about. What are some of these things?

Well, I will just say he is a lovely and kind man. He loves to a fault. He cares a lot. His life is all about caring and giving. When he was Attorney-General of Lagos, he proved that over and over again. Our church currently runs two free schools through his initiatives because we are interested in people.

One has run for a year and the other one just started. In the school, there is no tuition, registration or any fee. They are entirely free. They don’t pay for books, stationeries, uniforms or feeding. One of the schools is in Obanikoro, while the other is in Okota in Lagos.

We also run a soup kitchen in the church that we run now and the one we ran before. The soup kitchen provides food for the students every day. No child gets to the schools except he or she is poor. So, these are some of the many things he does for people to show his love.

Won’t these stop if he gets elected as Vice President?

Not at all. If you know my husband, he is a thorough and meticulous person. He doesn’t get into something until he has figured everything out. What will happen is that he would be able to do more as a Vice President on a larger scale.

The ones that he is going now, he has structures in place to handle them whether he is around or not. They are not just about him because other members of the church contribute. He has people everywhere running stuff that are from his heart.

I believe if he is elected, he will have more opportunities and platform to do much more for the people.

As a very private woman, how are you preparing for life as a public figure?

Honestly, I can’t tell. There is nothing I am doing or intend to do. I just trust God for grace. I am in His hands and I believe He won’t take me there and leave me stranded. I am just in His hands for whatever He wants to do with me.

Your book, They call me Mama, details your activities with street urchins in Lagos Island. What on earth was driving you to have anything to do with such people?

(Pauses) I don’t even know how to answer that question. That was just my life at that time. That was my own expression at that time. I am really thrilled I could reach those people in many parts of Lagos. When we started, they started introducing us to their friends in other parts of Lagos.

They were really my family members at that time and for me, Under Bridge was the safest place in Lagos. I felt so safe there that you couldn’t just move any close to me once I was there. The boys loved me so much they wouldn’t allow even a fly come close to me. For me, it was the safest place in Lagos.

 Do you still get to see or meet some of those boys?

Of course, I do. For the book presentation, I asked two of them to come so that people could see what we have done. One of them just got married in Benin and introduced his girlfriend to me before they married. He is now such a gentleman. He couldn’t even talk the way he used to before. The other one we took under the bridge at 11. Today, he has graduated on scholarship. We had many of such transformation stories coming from these boys. They were good guys who only found themselves in situations they couldn’t help and I am glad God used us to lift them up.

When they finally realised who you are, how did they feel?

Well, they just knew I was their mama, someone who cares so much about them. They didn’t know my background or husband’s status in the society. I was only giving them lunch, releasing them from police stations and visiting them in prisons.

So, I was just someone who loved them. Then, one day, one of them came across a newspaper cutting of a picture we took during the presentation of a book written in my husband’s honour when he left as Attorney-General. The function was at Muson Centre. So, one of them saw the picture and they couldn’t get to believe it was me.

That Sunday, they showed me the newspaper and wanted to know if it was me. I had to persuade them that yes it was me but it has not changed anything. Immediately, they started feeling uncomfortable and I assured them that I care for them, regardless of the differences in our status. Until then, they just called and saw me as mama, a church pastor that they could talk to and run to with any challenge or trouble.

Supposing you become the First Lady to the Vice President, what new initiatives will you bring to the office?

There is no office of First Lady to the Vice President.

But you will be playing some roles, won’t you?

The only role I will play is to look after my family, especially my husband, so that he can concentrate and do the works committed to him. That, to me, is the only assignment expected of me. There is nothing more. As long as I can help my husband to do a good job for the nation as a mother and wife, I am done.

What is happening to your legal practice?

I studied law but never practised. Studying law helped me to understand my husband’s stories and cases when he returns home.

How can you convince an ordinary, average woman out there that your husband is deserving of her vote and those of her family members?

All I will just say is that he won’t let them down. He is a good, caring man. If he could take care of me well at a personal level, he will look after women more than well if he is elected.

If he succeeds in becoming Vice President, what do you imagine will happen to Nigeria?

I sincerely believe there will be a great turnaround. He will do Nigeria and Nigerians good. He will change things and will never cheat or shortchange them.

Do you believe he will win this election?

I believe so with all of my heart.

Not minding he is contesting against the incumbents?

Yes, not minding that. I believe change is coming and Nigerians will witness it through the APC.

How is your typical, average day like lately?

I don’t have an average day because what I want to do determines how the day runs. I have now two shelters for battered women and victims of sexual abuses. One is on the Island and the other on the Mainland.

It is a non-governmental organisation called Women’s Helping Hands and we get to hear heart-breaking stories. One is that of a woman whose husband held down and battered with hot iron. She was so scary when we saw her.