Meet General Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate Professor Yemi Osinbajo who is married to Awolowo’s grand daugher , He is so relatively new to the public eye that we don’t even know his correct surname. We know him as Yemi, quite all right. But is it Yemi Osibajo? Perhaps Osinbajo? Or even Osinbanjo? His name has been misspelt by the media for the past 15 years and there is no indication that he has ever tried to correct it. There you have the vice-presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC): self-effacing and relatively new to the political fray. Indeed, there are not many pictures to choose from when you google his name! To his credit, though, all searches for “Osibajo” and “Osinbajo” lead to him. Some consolation there. The Punch has been alternating between Osibajo and Osinbajo.To know more about him, here are a few facts on the intellectual and public speaker.
HIS NAME IS YEMI OSINBAJO (WITH “N” PLEASE) Memorise it – you may need it later. O-S-I-N-B-A-J-O. That is eight letters. TheCable has been obsessed with “Osibajo” for no known reason, but this erratum should call its editors to order henceforth. The meaning of his name is not easily accessible to the younger Yoruba generation. All they will tell you is that OSIN is a water bird and AJO is a journey. Now to connect the two and make sense out of it is left to the older generation. TheCable refuses to hazard a meaning, but Osinbajo’s well-wishers will certainly hope his journey to Aso Rock will be as smooth as OSIN sailing on water. In his native Ijebu, one of the oldest and most distinct dialects of the Yoruba language, OSIN could also refer to a “child” and Osinbajo (Osin bo lati ajo) could then be interpreted to mean a child has returned from a journey ─ a good sign that all went well. In that case, his well-wishers would be hoping that his journey into politics will be worth the while and they will have every reason to rejoice when he ends his national service. We hope Osinbajo himself will take time, when he is less busy, to explain the meaning of his name to us for our education. Everybody who got it wrong should, however, be forgiven: Osinbajo is but a new “kid” on the block. He has been limited to the intellectual and ecclesiastical circles since he left government in 2007. After all, we are still struggling with spelling the names of more visible Nigerians such as Alamieyeseigha, Diezani and Imoukhuede. Even some Igbo would rather call the finance minister Ngozi Okonji-Iweala than Okonjo-Iweala. And the governor of Benue state was called Gabriel Suswan for ages until people finally agreed that even if a swan swam for a million miles, Gabriel’s surname would still be SUSWAM. And Ghaddafi? Oh no, let’s not go there. Fashola (left) giving a pep talk to Osinbajo (middle) on how to transform from intellectual lawyer to politician (we made that up, by the way)
HE IS A “BLUE BLOOD” No, no. Not what you are thinking. He is married to the house of Obafemi Awolowo, arguably the greatest Yoruba politician ever and a distinguished public administrator described by the late Chukwuemeka Ojukwu as “the best president Nigeria never had”. Oludolapo, his wife and mother of his three children, is a granddaughter of the late sage. What else? Yemi is from Ogun state originally, but he served Lagos as commissioner and is therefore also from Lagos. What more? His brother, Akin, was the attorney-general of Ogun state from 2003-2007, the first and only time two blood brothers are known to have held commissionerships in different states at the same time. What again? Akin and Yemi look so much alike, but we must now reveal that one is shorter and has a smaller build than the other. Guess who. HE IS A SAN Yes, he is a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), but what do else do you expect a man who has taught and practised law all his adult life? He studied law at the University of Lagos (1978) and got a master’s from the London School of Economics and Political Science (1980). He was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 1979. The professor of law was the head of department of public law at the University of Lagos (1997-1999). He is a member of the International Bar Association and the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and has served in the Nigerian Body of Benchers and the Council for Legal Education of Nigeria. I almost forgot to say he is the senior partner at SimmonsCooper Partners, a law firm, where he earns his living.
HE IS AN AUTHOR Aso Rock is not the right place to author books ─ you are too busy to do that. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo just launched a three-part book made up of over 1000 pages, but you have to realise he left office over seven years ago. It has taken seven years to release a book brimming with acid and poison. Osinbajo has been writing his own intellectual books, not memoirs, which are more difficult. He may be an author but he will not be doing that in the presidential villa for now. Some of the books he has written or contributed to or edited are: “Nigeria’s Treaties in Force”, “Nigerian Media Law”, “The Unification and Reform of the Nigerian Criminal Law and Procedure Codes”, “Law Development and Administration”, “The Annotated Civil Procedure Rules of The Superior Courts in Nigeria”, “Cases and Materials on Nigerian Law of Evidence” and “Cross Examination: A Trial Lawyer’s Most Potent Weapon”. If he decides to write his memoirs after leaving office, be sure you won’t get much of a bile. He is a gentleman. Preach it, pastor!
HE IS A PASTOR There must be something about Buhari and lawyer-pastors. In 2011, he picked Tunde Bakare, founder of the Latter Rain Assembly, as his running mate. Bakare is also a lawyer. This time, he has picked Osinbajo, who pastors the Olive Tree House of Prayer for All Nations, Banana Island, a parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. And do we really have to repeat the part that Osinbajo is a lawyer too? HE IS ERMMM… A POLITICIAN He is no Bola Tinubu or Rotimi Amaechi, so you will be reluctant to call him a politician. And for someone who has never contested an election before, now it is pretty difficult to call him a politician. But he has been very much involved in politics. He was special adviser to Bola Ajibola, the attorney general of Nigeria from 1988-1992, and he himself was appointed attorney-general and commissioner for justice of Lagos state from 1999 to 2007. PROCEED TO SEE MORE ON PAGE2