VP Osinbajo’s Chat With AfDB Nigerian Professionals In Focus
Recently in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire Nigerian professionals and financial technocrats serving in the African Development Bank(AfDB)Group had a unique opportunity to rub minds with the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, on the nation’s numerous challenges and the efforts of the Buhari administration to tackle them under the Change Agenda.
The conversation with the professionals and other Nigerians who attended the interaction was indeed germane and seen as a critical platform for government to interface with Nigerians in Diaspora. Aside from the usefulness of such an interface for building consensus for inclusiveness in governance, the calibre of professionals gathered at the Sofitel D’Ivoire, a top hotel in Abidjan, venue of the meeting only further stressed the importance of the interface.
Giving his impression about the conversation and the Vice President’s handling of issues, Mr Tunde Adenibi a professional staff at AfDB said ” he spoke with candor . He conveyed the impression that issues have been identified, thought about in a clear and concise manner, and that recommendation for effective and sustainable solutions are being adduced or implemented in order to resolve or reduce the magnitude of the problems”.
Setting the stage for the conversation last week in Abidjan, Prof Osinbajo had in his speech delivered earlier during the investiture ceremony stated that time worn out thinking and ideas have no place in this new administration. He actually queried : “How can trickle down paradigms work when half our populations are extremely poor? Do we not need some attention to social investment?. In answering the questions, Prof. Osinbajo restated the commitment of Buhari’s administration “to focus on how economic policy can produce economic empowerment for women, and all categories of our people who have become disempowered and whose voices are seldom reflected in the rhetoric of policy.”
During one of his responses, the Vice President talked about the programmes conceived to actualize the Change Agenda of President Buhari, explaining that the philosophy of the Federal Government’s economic blueprint would be driven by focus on the over 110 million extremely poor Nigerians who have been neglected by successive past administrations.
Prof. Osinbajo however, outlined some of the social inclusion policies targeted at the poor to include the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) to the poorest segments, universal primary healthcare schemes and the school feeding program. But one issue which interested the Diasporans was government desire to tap into acquired skills and expertise of the Diasporans for national development through the Diaspora Commission. Though some of those who attended the interaction confessed to be ignorant about the effort of government to float the Commission, they nevertheless lauded the ideas.
Mr Adenibi said on the relevance of the Commission, “the Commission’s relevance would lie in its ability to successfully mobilize the above resources for the good of the country, particularly in terms of investments and capacity building assistance. For example, the Commission can pave the way in better formalizing the flow of the huge remittances made by Nigerians in the Diaspora and in encouraging Nigerian Diasporan experts to take sabbaticals to undertake joint research with local Nigerian academics or institution”. In his own opinion, Mr Olusegun Alebiosu, also a staff of AfDB candidly and simply retorted that since it is about Nigeria’s Ambassadors abroad then it is a welcome development.
While applauding the initiative on conditional cash transfer, Dr Damian Ihedioha also an employee of AfDB said most of his colleagues are of the view that ” it is another hand out which we should avoid”. “The regime should as much as possible move away from quick fixes. They are usually not sustainable and durable. I feel strong that overtime the program would be hijacked”, he added. He however advised “I would encourage the regime to invest heavily on power and energy” reasoning that with power and energy in abundance, the following maxim will hold ‘show the light and people will find their way’.
The initiatives on the school feeding program and the universal healthcare scheme received resounding commendation from the Diasporans especially from Mr Adenibi who said if well planned the programmes will become a catalyst for accelerating the wellbeing of the people, but cautioned that it’s impact and sustainability will depend on its proper implementation.
On the overall faith in the new administration, many of the Diasporans believed in the ability of President MUhammadu to change the nation’s fortune noting that the last election has ushered in a new crop of leaders with integrity and a lot of credibility known at home and abroad. Alebiosu said ” I am positive on the current leadership of the country”.
Equally, some of the participants expressed their views about the Vice President who is perceived as a quality leader, sincere with good academic pedigree and a good complement to the high integrity of President Buhari. It was generally believed and agreed that this combination would be an additional impetus for the government’s anti-corruption campaign and its overall image.
The interaction might have achieved its desired objective as many of the Diasporans expressed fulfillment and great optimism about the capability of President Muhammadu Buhari even as they prayed God to give them the courage to deliver on their mandate for the country’s good governance, peace, security and overall development
The Vice President’s interaction held on the sidelines of the investiture of the new AfDB President. After 52 years and previous failed attempts, Nigeria finally ascended the Presidency of the prestigious continental development financial institution, the African Development Bank Group, Dr Akinwunmi Ayodeji Adesina was sworn in as the 8th President of the bank.
The illustrious occasion was well attended by eminent Nigerians led by Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN who eminently and effectively represented President Muhammadu Buhari. President Buhari shocked many political pundits last May, when he gave his total support and backing for the candidacy of Dr Akinwunmi Adesina for the coveted position in the bank. This was despite Adesina’s previous campaign against Buhari at the twilight of the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan where Adesina served as the Minister of Agriculture.
Dignitaries from Nigeria who attended the interaction include the q among others. Many captains of industry in Nigeria and around the continent also graced the event alongside some members of the National Assembly.
But Vice President Osinbajo did not leave Abidjan right after the investiture as Nigerians in the bank expressed interests in having an interaction with him. He obliged and according to the Acting President of the Association of Nigerian Staff in AfDB (ANSA), Mr. Clement Babalola ‘’ I must be candid with you, we all appreciate the Vice President because of his simplicity, availability and easy access. His whole conduct was quite commendable’’.
Office of the Vice President, Abuja