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Nigeria’s VP Osinbajo: Does he have friends in the political elite?

By 'Tofe Ayeni
Posted on Thursday, 25 June 2020 15:43, updated on Tuesday, 20 April 2021 10:24

Nigeria Vice President
Nigeria's Vice President Yemi Osinbajo speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday 17 January 2017 (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

Professor Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo, fondly referred to as Pastor-Prof in prominent Yoruba circles, is the current Vice President of Nigeria, serving his second term. A pastor, professor, and lawyer, he is not a typical cunning and seasoned politician. So how has he managed to rise to such prominence? Who are his supporters, and who are those that are against him?

Although many believe that Vice-President Osinbajo had no involvement in politics until he ran on General Muhammadu Buhari’s ticket in 2015, this is not completely true.

  • In 2006, the current Vice-President was a member of the UN Secretary-General’s Committee of Experts on Conduct and Discipline of UN Peacekeeping Personnel around the globe.
  • After the formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the current ruling party, Osinbajo was one of those tasked with the development of the manifesto, which culminated in “Roadmap to a New Nigeria”, published by the APC as a manifesto in 2013.
  • He was Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Lagos State government from 1999-2006 under Governor Bola Tinubu, the so-called godfather of Nigerian politics.

Lawyer, professor of law

Osinbajo is a lawyer by profession, and also had a successful career as a professor of law. Some important people in his legal network include:

  • Bola Ajibola – Osinbajo was the legal adviser of this former Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
  • Dapo Akinosun – Managing Partner at Simmons Cooper Partners, where the Vice-President was previously a partner.
  • Dr Akin Oyebode – stated by Osinbajo as his inspiration for going into teaching.

The Church

Religion plays an important part in Nigerian society, and the most influential church is the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). Experts say that the democratic process in Nigeria is shaped by powerful pastors, who regularly weigh in on elections. Some pastors even tell their flocks which way to vote. In the case of Osinbajo, he has been head Pastor since 2009 at The Lagos Province 48 (Olive Tree Parish), thereby having immediate access to the major religious circles.

Pastor E A Adeboye, the General Overseer of the RCCG, is arguably the most influential man in Nigeria. Having this man in your circle is powerful, especially in a process whereby you need the masses to rally behind you. One cannot deny the impact of Adeboye in both Osinbajo and Buhari’s successes.