Three weeks to first anniversary of the present government, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has revealed that how he became the running mate to President Mohammadu Buhari, saying his disposition to fight corruption in Nigeria was the motivating factor.
Osinbajo spoke at a non-denominational conference organized by the Covenant Christian Centre in Abuja on Saturday.
He recalled that he had co-founded a professional a group in 1995 that upheld integrity as a hallmark to fighting corruption and upholding good governance. He also recalled that he was 24 years when his boss became the Military Head of State, stressing that providence brought them together. He said: “Permit me to begin (the speech) with a story about myself.
All my adult life, I have always believed that our country was performing far below its potentialities, in practically every aspect of life. “In governance, corruption was always so outrageous that it made the majority poor and development almost impossible. Law and order was always a problem, usually no consequence for wrong-doing.
‘’Doing business and even our daily existence have always been difficult, no power, no fuel. Getting anything done in government establishments, a nightmare of delay and extortion. “So as a conscious decision, I joined various pressure groups. From human rights groups to good governance advocacy groups. In 1995, I co- founded an organization called Integrity, an anti-corruption organization. I joined various think tanks and professional groups, including the Concerned Professionals.”
The Vice President then recalled a situation of harassment and intimidation his group suffered under the Abacha regime. “Under the Abacha regime we Concerned Professionals, one day gathered at Yaba Bus-stop and some were thoroughly beaten by Police and the Army.
From that day on, people disappeared and did not show up again. “I served as a two-term Attorney- General in Lagos State and pushed reforms in governance and the justice sector, I believed and continued to believe that the Nigerian people deserve better lives.” ‘’In December 2014, the unexpected happened; I was nominated as Vice Presidential candidate to then General Muhammadu Buhari.”
He then recalled that he was still young, 27years old when Buhari became head of State “after a corrupt and somewhat disappointing civilian regime.” The Vice President said: “As a young university lecturer, then I was impressed by his, President Buhari’s single-minded fight against corruption and indiscipline. There was a serious war against indiscipline.
For the first time, government held corrupt officers accountable. “30 years later, providence brought us together. A retired general now and a Professor of Law.” Osinbajo said the President and himself knew and agreed on what had to happen to bring change to the nation. “We both believed that our country needed to change. We argued about how and what needed to be done.
We reached consensus on many of the major issues. ‘’Certainly our country need a different set of values; a new way of doing business; an economy that is able to give opportunity to young people to work in their chosen professions and to build strong and profitable businesses.
We knew that we had to provide social protection for the poorest and the most vulnerable. “We recognised that innovation and change will be key, and that we must implement and not just talk about diversification of our economy. So we led our party’s campaign on that single, simple, but profound word, CHANGE! “Nearly a year on- there are many problems and many have asked where is the change? Is this the change we voted for? Even some fifth columnists in our midst have suggested bring back corruption! “But let me just say here for the records that the government of Muhammadu Buhari is completely and irrevocably committed to change.
“We believe that though it may not be easy, though the early signs may be confusing and sometimes discouraging, there has never been a better opportunity than now to turn the country in the direction of success. “ Today we have the best opportunity in decades for profound change. It is an opportunity in a generation.
A revolution whose time has come! Everything around us tells us that the moment is now! Can this change happen, yes indeed, it can! ‘’What do you have in your hands to make it happen? We have a country that is tired of corruption, tired of leadership without values, tired of an economy that is neither designed to accommodate enterprise, nor to create opportunity and wealth for the majority.
“But we have a leadership and we have a leader that is prepared to challenge the rotten status quo, one who has said that he is prepared to kill corruption rather than let it kill us,” he said.