Nigeria’s Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), has said the challenges that presently confronts the Nigerian nation are not insurmountable. He described them as ‘steppingstones to a great future.’
The VP who is also a pastor stated this in Owerri, the Imo State capital, on Sunday at a special interdenominational thanksgiving service to mark the first anniversary of the administration of Governor Hope Uzodinma, who was foisted on the people of Imo State by the Nigeria Supreme Court. Uzodimma came a distant fourth in the elections but against the run of play, the Supreme Court of Nigeria declared him winner of the election, a judgement that tainted the image of the Nigerian judicial system till date.
The Vice-President, who delivered the felicitations of the President Muhammadu Buhari to Uzodinma and the people of the state, also noted that faithful service to the people in public office is a way of honouring God who gave the opportunity in the first place to leaders. This is according to a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, titled ‘Nigeria’s Challenges are Steppingstone to a Great Future.’
Osinbajo was quoted as saying, “Let me say that despite the challenges our nation faces, by the grace of God, we, the Nigerian people, are more than able to surmount them. So, I say to you, people of Imo and the great people of Nigeria; yes, we have work to do; yes, we have much to repair, but we are undaunted. The problems we see today are the steppingstones to our great future. We are, by the grace of God, mightier than our challenges.”
The Vice-President was reportedly received at the airport by Uzodinma as well as some former governors, including Orji Kalu of Abia and Mohammed Bindow of Adamawa. Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN); and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, were also said to be in attendance.
Osinbajo, who acknowledged some of the strides so far recorded under Uzodinma, urged the governors to stay focused on delivering quality leadership in service to the people of Imo State, while ensuring their well-being remains a cardinal point for the state government. He said, “There are at least three possible forms of opposition to government. One is political opposition, the second is time, and the third is the leader himself – i.e. when the leader is discouraged or distracted. But the most critical factor is you, the leader. How you deal with time and political opposition will determine success or failure. Don’t look back. Keep focused. Stay on track.”
Osinbajo also said, “This is a state with a population of close to five million people. Since this state was created in 1976, there have only been 16 governors and you, Governor Hope Uzodinma, are one of them. Since 1999, only six elected governors and you are one of them. Some may say that you are here because you are the smartest, I am sure you know that being the smartest doesn’t mean you will get here.”
Making reference to the Bible, the Vice-President said, “Time and chance happen to them all. And the Almighty God controls time and chance. So, you are here today by the Grace of God. And so, my brother, life is a loan and public office is a loan of even shorter tenor.”
He added, “Morning shows the day, and you have started well. I am aware that over the past year, your administration has invested extensively in the construction and rehabilitation of physical infrastructure, the rehabilitation of educational and health institutions, as well as markets.
“The administration is currently undertaking a number of measures aimed at restoring power supply to rural communities and increasing power supply to urban areas. I know that you have also issued an executive order reducing the right of way charges for telecoms companies laying broadband infrastructure – which bodes well for the use of technology and emergence of an innovation economy in this state.
“I understand that these are only a few of the initiatives that this administration is undertaking. I am told that this year’s budget has been tagged a ‘budget of wealth creation.’ This theme is apt because we recognise that our major challenge as a nation is that of creating enough wealth and opportunities to meet the expectations of our fast-growing population. The theme also gives an insight into your focus and orientation.”
The statement said the thanksgiving service, which featured ministrations from Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, and Pentecostal clergy, also had in attendance President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; and Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege; Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed Wase; and Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, who is also the APC Caretaker Committee Chairman; Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Dr Kayode Fayemi; Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi; and Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi, among others.