I started following Vice President Osinbajo closely in my last year in university before I returned home in 2016. His speech at the 50th Anniversary of the civil war that I listened to on YouTube convinced me that we have a leader in him. Whenever I news item comes up on him I investigate it.
I have also been interested in Mr Bayo Oluwasanmi especially for his forthright, although sometimes needlessly strong language in engaging the issues of our times and they are many. This is why his article titled…Re: Muhammad Gulani: Lying Sicko Defends Pastor RUGA Osinbajo… caught my attention and I chose to research the points especially the lies he claims Osinbajo told. I am not a lawyer, I am a physicist and so I cannot claim any strong capacity for argument but I like the truth and fairness. Bayo says rather boastfully of himself “I am a radical truth-teller in my writings. Whenever I sit at my desk to build another cathedral of paragraphs to stubbornly repudiate lies, half-truths, corruption, incompetence, impotence, of Buhari- Osinbajo administration, I do it with the zeal of an evangelist.”
This sort of zeal is both good and dangerous as we will see, as it may lead to the use of hyperbole, dissembling, and even lies to justify the zealot’s preconceptions. Be careful. But let’s consider his allegations
Bayo Oluwasanmi accuses the VP of lying about the number of Nigerians in poverty during Jonathan’s presidency. “He said 112.7 million Nigerians were in poverty under Jonathan. Whereas, United Nations and World Poverty Clock contradict Osinbajo. According to the two bodies, 87 million Nigerians are in poverty in 2018 under Buhari.”
Well, I checked this out and found that Mr. Oluwasanmi was wrong. The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics(NBS) under the Jonathan administration is the source of the figure of 112.7 million (see https://nigerianstat.gov.ng/elibrary?queries[search]=poverty (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-17015873).
This was the last household poverty study done in Nigeria. There are no official current figures the new surveys are just being conducted. Besides I read an article by Oluwasanmi himself published in Sahara Reporters (Dec. 2016) titled “Happy 54th Birthday, Saraki: Mafia Boss of Nigerian Politics!” where he said “Nigeria remains a largely poor country with 80 per cent of its population still ekes out a living on less than $1 a day. Life expectancy is at abysmal 45 years……” assuming our population is 170 million, 80% will be 136 million! 20 million higher than Osinbajo’s “lie”. Of course, if our population is 200million Bayo’s own figure will then be 160 million.
Second, he says, that “while speaking to the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) Osinbajo lied that the greatness of Nigeria is its diversity. The opposite, Mr. Oluwasanmi says, is true. We all know he says that “for 58 years, the diversity of Nigeria has not translated into peace, progress, and prosperity.”
Except if the word “lie” now has a different meaning or there is some overzealousness on his part to find lies, how is it a lie for someone to assert that our greatness lies in our diversity? So, we have, a Nobel Laurette, Wole Soyinka (Yoruba/ religion unknown) the richest man in Africa, Dangote (Hausa/ Muslim), inventor of the world’s fastest computer, Phillip Emegwali (Ibo/Christian) just to mention the most obvious. How can this obvious truth that the strength of a nation is in its diversity be a lie? Even if the country has several challenges that fundamental truth is in no way diminished.
Fourth, he says Osinbajo lied that APC didn’t promise Nigerian’s restructuring. I have not come across anywhere where the VP said this. His position is that restructuring Nigeria geographically, i.e. going back to the old regional arrangements is not useful, what we need according to him are stronger more autonomous States (https://www.pulse.ng/news/local/yemi-osinbajo-vice-president-at-lagos-assembly-advocates-stronger-autonomous-states/1zxzr99) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4CZ8C69ZX4).
Fifth, he said that Osinbajo lied during the presidential town hall meeting. “He said the legislature did not send the Disability bill, “Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Bill, 2018 to the executive arm of government. The bill was sent to the president December 18, 2018. “
Both President Buhari and Osinbajo have been strong advocates of the Bill. Indeed, Buhari is the first President to appoint a Senior Special Assistant on Disability in the person of Dr. Samuel Ankeli. The fact that they were not aware of the Bill being in the Presidency is not necessarily a lie. The President has never been shy of refusing assent if he doesn’t agree with a bill. In any event he signed the Bill into law and it is now law. It seems a case of calling a dog a bad name to hang it to say that it was a lie to say that they were not aware the Bill was in the Presidency.
Sixth, as for the number of jobs created by the Social Investment Programme under the office of the Vice President and the successes of the Programme. I will rely more on what independent analysts have said than what the government says. The Nigeria Economic Summit Group, (NESG), the Policy Innovation Unit (PIU) conducted detailed evaluation of the NSIPs. The PIU is jointly made up of NESG, Accenture and Busara Center for Behavioral Economics. (https://allafrica.com/stories/201906070560.html) (https://kufm.net/2019/06/06/n155-billion-sip-fund-have-measurable-results-nesg/) And they found that “NSIP have delivered measurable results even though it has only received 31% of the Annual Budget of N 500 Billion.” My view is that when the SIP gives the figure of 500,000 young men and women (N-Power) currently engaged , and many confirm regularly how they have benefitted from the scheme , many are teachers in every local government today and jobs created through feeding of over 9 million children daily in 31 States you can say it is not enough but without demonstrating empirically that it is false, it would appear that this is another case of excessive zeal to find fault. I would suggest that an “evangelical” search for truth may benefit from conducting an internet poll, asking for at least two N-Power graduates in any local government in Nigeria to indicate with facts that they are indeed beneficiaries. That way Mr. Oluwasanmi can publicly demonstrate falsehood if that is the case.
Lastly on the VPs comments on security in Nigeria. I must confess that I haven’t seen any video of what he said. But let’s face it, in the US itself where he spoke, almost every week there is a mass shooting incident. In 2018 there were 340 mass shootings in the US, 56,952 cases of gun violence leading to 14,640 deaths (https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/6654920/mass-shootings-america-2018-how-many-killed-us/) Despite these figures have you ever heard VP Mike Pence go to a foreign country and say the US is unsafe, or that domestic security is a problem? Every country has its own security challenges, you don’t go around the world singing about it!
But my biggest surprise was his citing of Frank Gaffney’s allegations purporting that Osinbajo is for Islamists. Gaffney is a manifestly weird if not outrightly crazy character, he is described as an islamophobe and Islamic conspiracy theorist. He said once that Obama is America’s first Muslim President. He accused Barack Obama of changing the logo of the Missile Defense Agency to include the Islamic crescent. he had to retract when it was pointed out that the logo was designed in the George Bush Administration. Gaffney also claimed that John McCain and John Boehner were “parrots of the Muslim Brotherhood positions on a number of issues.” His Centre for Policy has claimed weirdly that American courts were being taken over by Sharia! He also claimed that one-time CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper, and former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano were deeply sympathetic to Islamists and could be part of a plot bring Sharia law to replace the US legal and political system! Why would anyone take such a guy seriously?
Lastly while I agree that the Buhari administration is far from delivering on its change promise, my assessment is that the Vice President is a major force for good and progress in our country and should be encouraged rather than vilified especially without facts.
Oritsewunmi Adolor writes from Abuja