Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says holding political office is more of an opportunity to serve and positively impact the lives of millions of people, rather than the prestige that comes with the position.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Tuesday in Abuja at the launch of the book titled “Deputising and Governance in Nigeria” by the Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
It was an occasion where the roles of a deputy to an elected public official, especially Vice Presidents and Deputy Governors, came under public searchlight with reminiscence from former President Goodluck Jonathan, Prof. Osinbajo, the author himself and his deputy, Alhaji Nasir Gawuna.
“A thought that runs through the book is that despite the put-downs of the office, being political number 2 is important because the political office is about the lives of millions of people not just about the prestige of office,” the Vice President stated.
But he added that “in our Constitutional Democracy, the effectiveness of the number 2, the Vice President, depends a great deal on the trust reposed in him by the President. That is a function of loyalty and it goes both ways as Umar Ganduje points out in his book.”
The Vice President further highlighted that the importance of dedication, loyalty and service in political office on governance.
Describing the relationship between him and his boss – President Muhammadu Buhari, as ideal and exemplary, Osinbajo noted that he has been “more fortunate than others in my relationship with my principal, Mr. President.”
According to Osinbajo, the President “genuinely believes in the role of the Vice President. “When he was leaving on medical leave, the second time, there were a few things that were outstanding to send to him, and he said, “I don’t want you to send me anything, it is your job now, just make sure you do a good job.”
“As former President Jonathan said, of his relationship with late Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, the President does not expect me to call him when he is away, he expects that I know what to do and should do it.
“Indeed, once when I called him, he said, “Professor, I am on leave, you are supposed to do your job. Do whatever you want to do, when I come back, we will discuss it.” And that is the way we have always related. I think that is ideal, and I recommend it to principals everywhere.”
While the VP noted the analogy of the spare trye widely used to describe the role of the deputy to the President, he explained that a better description would be that of the relationship between a captain of a flight and his deputy.
His words: “imagine a commercial flight with people, including yourself on a plane, there is the captain, and then there is his deputy. The captain flies the plane, but no human being can be completely focused for several hours. So, sometimes he gets up and goes to the bathroom, while the flight is on, his deputy had better be a good pilot otherwise lives are at risk.
“Can you imagine a situation where the captain leaves the cockpit briefly and you hear an announcement from the cockpit, “ladies and gentlemen, I am the deputy to the captain, the captain is in the restroom, and I am only a spare tyre and I am not sure what to do now?” If you are on that plane you will ask God for forgiveness, for expecting that a deputy or vice plays no role.”
Referencing Governor Ganduje to further emphasize the important role of deputies, Osinbajo noted that, “the deputy or vice must be up to the task every day. He must be the most hardworking in the government, bringing his own skills and talents in representing the principal as efficiently and effectively as possible every single day.”
Noting that unlike deputy governors, he added that Vice Presidents have a few more well-defined constitutional roles.
“The Vice President is the chair of NEC, the monthly meeting of 36 governors, the chair of the National Planning Commission, the chair of the National Council on Privatization, the chair of several boards and also deputy of several other official bodies.
Prof. Osinbajo observed that the book was “full of wisdom and wit from a practical politician and erudite social scientist, Governor Umar Ganduje.”
In the VP’s words, Governor Ganduje was “worth studying not because he has always succeeded politically, but because he failed many times, yet he always knew how to lose and not get lost.”
As Prof. Osinbajo observed, Governor Ganduje had first-hand knowledge and experience to write on such an important subject of ‘Deputising and Governance in Nigeria’, having served as deputy before becoming governor himself.
“More importantly, on the subject of deputizing, no one has his experience. He has been deputy governor twice. Except perhaps, His Excellency, former President Goodluck Jonathan. Governor Ganduje is one of the few who from being deputy governor, became governor and he is perhaps the only governor who has now put forward his deputy to succeed him,” he said.
He further noted that it was rare for a politician to write a book that is not about himself or herself and their great achievements.
“This book is not about Ganduje and his achievements, it is more a textbook on governance and politics. And we have heard this most eloquently from Prof. Jega, the book reviewer today, it contains important nuggets on those two subjects.
The VP also disclosed that “in my very early interactions with him, and there have been many, I found that Umar Ganduje is probably one of the wittiest, most cerebral and most humorous politicians that you could ever found. I always find his views incredibly witty and perceptive. I thought it would be interesting to have his thoughts in writing somewhere. If you are looking for a deep, witty, unforgettable analysis of a subject, you have your man.”
Prof. Osinbajo then recommended the book “to everyone, not just politicians but anyone who has any kind of interest in good governance.”
Aside from the Vice President, other dignitaries at the event included former President Goodluck Jonathan; the APC vice-presidential candidate, Senator Kashim Shettima, who represented the party’s presidential flagbearer; Governors Babagana Zulum of Borno State; Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State and Abdulrahman Abdulrazak of Kwara State, among others.