Garlands to an uncommon Nigerian at 60!Written by Sogbeye Eli
Born Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo at Creek Hospital in Lagos to the family of Pa Opeoluwa Osinbajo 60 years ago, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (GCON, SAN) who was inaugurated Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29, 2015, Mr. Acting President of Africa's biggest Republic and rave of the moment, is evidence of the infallibility of the scriptures: “Seest thou a man diligent in his business, he shall stand before kings and not mean men”. This is a fitting summary of the life of a man who, perhaps next only to President Goodluck Jonathan, has savoured such meteoric ascension in the murky, Croc-infested waters of Nigerian politics!
An Old Igbobian like that other left-handed law genius and Administrative czar, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), the illuminating academic story book of this birthday boy opened at one of Nigeria's greatest private schools of all times, the well-respected Corona Primary School. He spent the years between 1969 and 1975 transforming his milk teeth at Corona and moved from thence to the prestigious Igbobi College where he passed his West African School Certificate (WASC) and Higher School Certificate (HSC) in quick succession.
Armed with that and all the jewels in his academic crown including the State Merit Award (1971); School Prize for English Oratory (1972); Elias Prize for Best Performance in History (WASC, 1973); African Statesman Intercollegiate Best Speaker's Prize (1974) and School Prize for Literature (HSC, 1975) whilst maintaining the Adeoba Prize for English Oratory between 1972 and 1975, he was admitted to the University of Lagos for a Bachelor's degree in Law. He graduated with Honours and in exceptional colours after three years as a Great Akokite in 1978.
Between 1978 and 1979, he was at the Nigerian Law School for the Council of Legal Education mandatory professional training and upon his call to the Nigerian Bar in 1979, Nigeria’s year of transition to the 2nd Republic, he proceeded to the old Bendel State for his NYSC. This time, Yemi Osinbajo exhibited his flashes of exceptional brilliance at the Bendel Development and Planning Authority (BDPA), the government agency established by the forward-looking Dr. Samuel Osaigbovo Administration with the responsibility for property development and management. Today, most towns and cities of Edo and Delta States were landmarks of that glorious era where BDPA estates dot the landscape.
Done with national service, Oluyemi proceeded to the UK, enrolled at the globally-acclaimed London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and bagged his Master of Laws in 1981.
Mr. Acting President is married to his love song, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo (nee Soyode), a grand-daughter of the legendary political icon and one of the nation's founding fathers, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. This marriage, though blessed with three wonderful kids, is not the only evidence of God's faithfulness and the fruitfulness of His and Her Excellency! Madam has stood by, beside and behind her husband over the years as he notched up laurel after laurel in the academic world, Administrative duties, politics and the Church. Indeed, armed with a stable home front built on the trusteeship of love, devotion and emotional balance, the ship MV Yemi Osinbajo has been steadied in her sail beginning with his appointment as Lecturer at his alma mater in 1981.
Between the years 1983 and 1986, he served the University of Lagos as Senior Lecturer ahead of being appointed and serving from 1988 to 1992 as Adviser (Legal Practice and Litigation) to then Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Bola Ajibola.
The man of the moment flourished further in year 1997 when the University of Lagos promoted him to the rank of Professor and Head, Department of Public Law.
This teacher of renown was still at his desk doing what he knows best when the duty of public service called in another plumage in 1999 as the nation's political doors were flung open to usher in the most enduring journey in democracy and self-governance yet by Nigerians since the 1914 Amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates with the Colony of Lagos by Lord Frederick Lugard, Nigeria's first Governor-General and Representative of the British Monarch His Majesty, King George V. And for eight solid years, Prof. Osinbajo served as Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice in the Lagos State Government under the intense leadership of His Excellency, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Asiwaju of the Universe, Jagaban Borgu and Omo Iyaloja inter alia. With the eminent professor at the drive-seat, these were the years when the judiciary and judicial fountains of Lagos were re-ignited with the far-reaching reforms the rest of Nigeria is hastening to catch up with since ever.
He had returned to his desk as Law professor at the University of Lagos between 2007 and 2013 when, at the formation of the All Progressives Congress, he was yet again drafted in the Committee to design and produce the party's Manifesto fittingly captioned, “Roadmap to a New Nigeria”, upon which the party of the progressives swept off in landslide fashion the debris of the PDP ancient regime after 16 unbroken years at the helm. By stroke of fate and destiny, he emerged as Vice-President under President Muhammadu Buhari from that epochal 2015 elections and has been at the front lines of sanitising the national estate from a position of strength being firmly rooted on the rule of law, sound principles of Constitutionalism and legal due process, impeccable records and unimpeachable personal integrity.
A member of the Nigerian Bar Association, International Bar Association, Body of Benchers and Council of Legal Education, he has served the global community on platforms instituted by the Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. A minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he is the pastor in-charge, Lagos Province 48 of the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
A man of many parts, he has since 2007 been in active legal practice as a Senior Partner at Simmons Coopers Partners and Partner at Osinbajo, Kukoyi & Adokpaye. He is also the author of Nigerian Media Law; Cases and Materials in Nigerian Law of Evidence (1992), edited; and published 15 Law books to date; published 12 articles in leading academic journals, etc.
A recipient of several awards, testimonials and recognitions, today's birthday celebrant was on May 28, 2015 conferred with Nigeria's second highest national honour, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).
Please join me in wishing this great Nigerian, academic of profound distinction, statesman, nationalist and political leader a happy birthday!