Renowned author and critic, Chimamanda Adichie, has described the book, ‘Osinbajo Strides: Defining Moments of an Innovative Leader’ written by 25 journalists and writers in honour of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as an enthusiastically organic book that is a labour of love.
In her keynote address during the virtual launch of the book by the writers, PYO Collective, she explained that the Vice President brought a different kind of leadership which has inspired millions of young Nigerians.
She spoke about his people-focused policies from his time as an Attorney General in Lagos State. She also noted that the Vice President always spoke the truth irrespective of the circumstances, making allusion to his speech at the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies post-2023 election.
“The essays in this book, they come from a diverse range of writers and they’re all very different in style, but they all have a kind of organic enthusiasm to them. You read them with the sense of reading pieces written by people who actually wanted to write them. And so it feels to me that this book is a labour of love and the fact that it is a labour of love says something about the subject, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. It speaks to a humane and human quality that he has the ability to bring diverse people together,” she said.
Recalling a conversation with her later mother, the Half of a Yellow Sun writer said, “I remember once we were watching television and Prof was speaking and my mother said in that very firm tone of hers, “Now, this one is a gentleman”. And there was of course an undercurrent to her words, and there was something rather loudly left unsaid, which was, the others are not gentlemen. One of the writers in this book, Oreoluwa Ogunbiyi puts it rather beautifully when she said she was struck by Prof’s careful attentiveness. Reading that, I thought this would be a wonderful definition of a person who is a gentleman. The person who has the quality of careful attentiveness. This brings me to a recurring idea in this book, which is that Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is different, unlike the others, unexpected.”
In a labyrinthine but curiously fascinating fashion, Chimamanda repeatedly harped on Prof. Osinbajo’s humane and human qualities. She chronicled his speech at the APC presidential primaries and his leadership qualities especially when he acted as President. “I remember watching Prof’s magnificent speech at the APC primaries, and I was particularly struck by these words from him, “You cannot wish this country well and vote for someone you do not believe in.” After listening to that speech, I was certain that Prof would win but it seemed to me, to use an American colloquialism, a no-brainer. But by some magically mysterious or perhaps mysteriously magical process, he did not win. So I remember sending Prof a message saying that I had hoped he would win, but also telling him how conflicted I would have been because he is the only other person I could have supported in this election and this support will have been based on his humane and human qualities but also the fact that he has demonstrated leadership and particularly so I think when as Acting President, he took a principled action telling us Nigerians that one cannot desecrate the sanctity of the National Assembly,” she said, referring to the immediate dismissal of Lawal Daura, the former DSS DG.
Speaking about the Vice President as a teacher, she noted, “I must say that I’m surprised that this book does not have someone who wrote of Prof as a teacher. I think it is in fact one of the fundamental traits that he has, that he is a good teacher. I think the greatest gift a teacher can have is the eternal gratitude of his or her students and Prof. has that. I remember once watching a very wide range of Prof’s students talking about him as a teacher, how patient he was, how he really wanted them to understand the concepts, and also how he wasn’t burdened by that quality of ego which sadly I think afflicts many academics in Nigeria. I must say that hearing Prof’s students talk about him warmed my heart particularly because it reminded me of my own father who was a dedicated professor and taught for more than 40 years at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. And so today, we celebrate a man who is different. A man who is Vice President, lawyer, and teacher.
She urged readers to get copies of the book and hoped that more literature will be written on Prof. Osinbajo. “This is a book I hope many people will read and I also hope that someday somebody will write a proper biography on Prof., sometime in the future, and say that Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President, teacher, lawyer, and a good man.”