Normally, I try to warn myself not to be taken for granted by the actions and shenanigans of the political elite in Nigeria, but the emergence of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) as running mate to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari on the All Progressives Congress presidential ticket excites me greatly because of his antecedents as a man of principle/integrity and a first class brain.
I am not a card-carrying member of any political party but when the news filtered out that he was being considered among an array of equally competent individuals as a possible running mate on the APC Presidential ticket, I knew that a fresh insight was about being introduced to the political space — an element capable of changing the political equation in our country forever. I have always been excited at the prospects of our politics being dominated by the power of ideas, power of action, and ability of the power of ideas and power of action to be galvanised into concrete policies and laws for the transformation of our country. The entry of Osinbajo indeed represents a positive beginning in the realisation of these ideals.
I first came across Osinbajo as a final year law student of the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos in 1986. He was my lecturer in the Law of Evidence who made tremendous impact on the entire class for his sheer brilliance and mastery of the subject. Osinbajo would come to class armed with just a pen and take on the whole class for nearly three hours, making copious references to authorities and cases offhand, with uncommon exactitude that can only be associated with his rating as a genius. In no time, he won many converts and admirers including my humble self. So much was the impact of this extraordinary Nigerian on my classmates that when it was time for us to choose our supervisors for our final year projects, I had no difficulty zeroing in on the choice of Osinbajo. I wanted to tap from the anointing. No doubt Osinbajo is an intellectual of great standing.
The other attribute of this gentleman that one can readily recall is his integrity and humility in spite of his many accomplishments. He was also perceived as generally accessible by the students who could knock at his door even at short notice and be sure of being given attention and treated as human beings. I can confirm that he left the ivory tower to serve as the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice of Lagos State under the Bola Tinubu administration for eight years with his integrity at the university intact and unblemished.
What about the reforms that Osinbajo carried out as the Chief Law Officer in Lagos State during his tenure? Reforms that became a model of distinction for other states in the rest of the federation to emulate, for the enhancement of the quality of administration of justice in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. Again, Osinbajo made his impact in the justice sector in a manner that convinced the stakeholders that he is a candidate for higher responsibilities.
This may not be a coincidence after all. I know on good authority that Osinbajo at birth received the blessings of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo of blessed memory. One of the old pictures adorning the sitting room of the Osinbajos is a picture taken with the late sage cuddling the young prof. in his arms. This chemistry that he shared with Awolowo owing to the close relationship between the Osinbajos and the Awolowo families of Ikenne was later to be fortified by marriage in that Osinbajo is married to a granddaughter of Awolowo named Oludolapo. Some have argued that the spirit of the late Awolowo may have had a hand in the choice of Osinbajo as the running mate on the APC presidential ticket. Whether or not this spirit will catapult him to the seat of power remains to be seen.
Mr Wahab Shittu is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Law.