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Osinbajo as APC's man Friday

Published by Tribune on Sat, 20 Dec 2014

IT was way back in 1999. Nigeria had conducted a series of elections that would culminate in the exit of the military from power. As the first set of elected leaders emerged, Professor Yemi Osinbajo moved briskly to initiate them on the duties, obligations and challenges expected of them in the new dispensation.The lucky beneficiaries of the seminar, held at the University of Lagos (LUTH), Akoka, happened to have been politicians elected into the Lagos State House of Assembly. Osinbajo along with other resource persons, grilled the 'lawmakers' on the art of legislative business, ostensibly because of the fact that the legislative arm of government had been emasculated under military autocracy.It was no surprise that the erudite scholar became one of the pathfinders shortly after the inauguration of Senator Bola Tinubu as the governor of Lagos State. Suave and urbane, Osinbajo was generally believed to have deployed his wealth of experience and expertise in his capacity as the state attorney General and Commissioner for Justice to herald a new dawn in official circle. Today, he is adorned a new apparel. His emergence as the running mate to the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) means a fresh challenge for his dexterity and potentialities. He is expected to bring to the contest his goodwill, integrity, intellect and tact in the quest by the APC to mount the saddle in May next year.Coming with a lot of experience as a scholar, cleric and legal luminary, Osinbajo has the task of galvanishing majority of stakeholders across a broad spectrum of the Nigerian society for the APC. Given his background, he bestrides two major world- the church and the legal profession- that have shown more than a passing interest in the political development and progress of the country. He has the onerous task of stepping up the game, where a fellow cleric in the immediate past, stopped. Interestingly, the duo share many things in common including professional background, faith and erudition.News about Osinbajo's emergence as running mate elicited ecstasy among the UNILAG academic community on Wednesday with some lecturers saying he will bring to bear his diverse and huge endowment to the presidential contest. For example, a senior lecturer at the Department of Mass Communication of the institution said he would substantially complement the contributions of other vested interests in placing the APC ticket on a better pedestal. Will he be the man with the Midas Touch for the APC'His choice is being predicated on a number of factors by insiders in the APC and analysts. Some claim he is a compromise candidate after intense and adroit politicking buy powerful caucuses within the party. Others attribute his choice to the dominance of a particular interest in the APC, just as other observers claim that the emergence of highly cerebral Osinbajo to divine intervention because of the frightening dimension that the contest for supremacy took among the party hawks, whereas the initial thinking was that the APC had indeed crossed the Rubicon after conducting a relatively peaceful national convention/presidential primaries.The other major school of thought surrounding his choice is that the party felt the need to target the usual bloc votes of the South-West, where he hails from without the APC running the risk of marginalising other zones particularly in the South. Already, the South-South zone produced the national chairman. It is also widely speculated that with Osinbajo some have described as a silent smooth operator on board, the APC can rely on the zones in the North to provide a good back up for the party during the February 14, 2015 presidential election. Having escaped from any implosion so far to the chagrin of a few of its critics, can it be said that the APC has now found a Man Friday'Osinbajo, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), is a member of the Board of Directors, Justice Research Institute Ltd. Gte and senior partner in the Law firm of Simmons Cooper partners, and a former Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice. Prior to his appointment as the Attorney General in 1999, Osinbajo, a professor of law, was the Head of Public Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos.Upon his appointment in 1999, he initiated the justice reform project in Lagos, which included the establishment of the Directorate of the Citizens' Rights. The latter formed part of the kernel of the reform of the criminal justice administration in the state.He served as a staff member of the United Nations, in the Justice Division of UNOMSOM II, and as a consultant to the UNDP/ United Nations Center on Transnational Corporations, United Nations African Institute for Crime Prevention (UNAFRI), the International Criminal Court in Arusha, Tanzania on the training of prosecutors and most recently, as a member of United Nation's Secretary General's committee of experts on Conduct and Discipline of UN Peacekeeping Personnel around the globe.Osinbajo edited, authored and co-authored several books, including The Unification and Reform of the Nigerian Criminal Law and Procedure Codes; The Annotated Civil Procedure Rules of the Superior Courts of Nigeria, and Cross Examination: A Trial Lawyer's Most Potent Weapon.He served as the Special Adviser to the Attorney General of Nigeria (1988-1992), and the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Lagos State in 1999 and reappointed for a second term in 2003. During the period, he initiated the Lagos State justice reform project, which encompassed the establishment of the Directorate for Citizens' Rights (DCR) which provides free legal services and legal representation to indigent citizens. Before that appointment, he doubled as a Professor of Law and the Head of Public Law at the Faculty of Law at UNILAG.His rich resume included Ethics Adviser to the Advisory Board of the African Development Bank and non-executive Director of Citibank, just as he has served in various roles within the United Nations, United Nations Centre on Transnational Corporations, the United Nations African Institute for Crime Prevention, the International Criminal court for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania, the department of Peacekeeping operations and the United Nations Peace Operations in Somalia.Osinbajo is co-founder & board member Convention on Business Integrity and the Justice Research Institute Ltd. In 2007, he and his wife Oludolapo founded, The Orderly Society Trust, a non- governmental organization that is dedicated to the promotion of Christian ethics and orderliness. He is the pastor at Olive Tree House of Prayer for All Nations, Banana Island, a parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Lagos.One constant star about his tenure as attorney general in Lagos was the victory of state in its prolonged and bitter legal battle with the Federal Government following the creation of 37 new Local Council Development Areas by the Tinubu administration. The legal fireworks took thetwo parties to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favour of the sate that the respondent erred to have withheld the allocations meant for Lagos, owing to the creating of the LCDA from the existing 20 local government areas in the state.
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