The quip from Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, deposed emir of Kano, during the presentation of the book, Osinbajo Strides: Defining Moments of an Innovative Leader drive the discussion this week. During the book launch/presentation, Sanusi was reported to have said that ‘…we all agree that Nigeria is worse off not having someone like him (Osinbajo) as president, but I do hope that he will be available to serve and to advise and to put in his best for the country and continue to do so’. The former emir was reported to have added that ‘Osinbajo was one of those in the current administration willing to debate any matter and yield superior argument’.
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has been said to be a very intelligent man. We know so. If there’s going to be an anthology of Nigeria’s most intelligent people, Sanusi surely will make the list of the first 100. The first indication of his supposed intellect is from the books that are said to grace that splendid library of his. I have seen pictures of that library, and the array of titles therein may make a bibliophile green with envy and to have unholy anticipations. What is however clear to a large extent from the quote ascribed to Sanusi is this: it is one thing to own a library, and another thing to read the books in it. We are verily convinced that the quotes ascribed to Sanusi Lamido are contrived, political sentiments made to massage the ego of the recipient.
Part of the reasons why we believe that sentiments made by Sanusi on behalf of Prof Yemi Osinbajo are unctuous political statements come from the phrases of the book that was launched: Osinbajo Strides – defining moments – of an Innovative Leader. The lettered and unlettered in Nigeria and in the Diaspora now know that there was nothing innovative about the respected Prof and SAN, that is apart from the fact that he came with great expectations. Like great expectations, he ended a great disappointment. As a matter of fact, what was inherently ‘innovative’ about him was that as a pastor, professor of Law and respected Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Yemi Osinbajo was sort of expected to be the human face of the Buhari administration. Those who were afraid of Buhari’s second coming as head of state and or president easily discarded that fear because of Prof Osinbajo SAN.
However, at some of the most defining and definitive moments in the Buhari administration – the EndSARS protests – where the expected symbol of humanity was expected to take a stand and speak up for young Nigerians – the respected prof simply opted to be either mum or simply take a stride. Most Nigerians cannot remember what the prof said or did or did not say or did not do during the EndSARS protests. There were many other defining moments (Nigerians were sleeping at ATMs) which will not be the duty of this discussion to highlight. However, most Nigerians took notice of one ultimately God awful spectacle, (and that was that towards the end of the disastrous Buhari administration), of a Prof Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, seeking to continue from the calamitous position his boss left.
But what was wrong with that, his fans would ask? Constitutionally, nothing is wrong with aspiring to lead, since in the calculation of Sanusi, the prof is good with debating and conceding to a strong argument. But why would somebody who was a formidable part of the gory spectacles in Nigeria, the dwindle and dawdle of our currency, and the ineptness that led to Nigeria being declared as world poverty capital want further with Nigerians? Beyond being an excellent cheerleader for his boss, what innovative steps did he take to make the last eight years any lighter for Nigerians? Beyond being ‘Star Boy’ what exactly did the SAN represent to Nigerians? We recall that as chairman of the National Economic Council, the good prof presided over one of the worst economic fortunes of Nigeria, to the extent that even his boss at that time sacked over half of his staff.
The soon-to-be-former vice president was always praised for his loyalty to his boss. Loyalty to Buhari is good but speaking up for, and taking a stand for Nigerians would have been better. I once had a boss who had a boss he was very loyal to. Among the retinue of hangers on and jobbers, he was the only one speaking up, and telling his boss that some of plans were just plain reckless. Once in a while the boss of my boss would order him out of the meeting and then listen to the hangers on. But this boss of my boss often got his fingers burnt whenever he chose to ignore the truth from my boss. The boss of my boss eventually began to have a certain respect for my boss over the consistency of his ideas and the integrity of his charter. This was where I learnt that loyalty in a democracy must never be to any public official, but to the people who elected you to serve them. Therefore, the irony of that book launch was that it was an occasion to celebrate a man who took the unfortunate strides of loyalty in the old unfortunate manner of loyalty to his boss at defining, definitive moments when Nigeria needed a truly innovative leader.
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