It is his diamond jubilee, and like diamonds, Osinbajo has had his fair share of the heat of life, which translates raw carbon to pure, glittering diamond.
You know him as Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, but his parents know him as Oluyemi Oluleke. Today he is 60 years old, and no longer the son of a single family but a father to the millions of households in Africa’s largest country.
Having followed Osinbajo for many years, TheCable presents seven things you probably never knew about the professor of law, pastor, and development expert.
BECAME A LECTURER AT 23
We all know Osinbajo as a professor of law, and its a no-brainer, he must have lectured law, but what many do not know is that he began to lecture at the tender age of 23.
He taught law at the University of Lagos. Rilwan Akiolu, the Oba of Lagos, was one of Osinbajo’s students in his days at UNILAG.
BORROWED TO PAY HIS SCHOOL FEES
The one who borrowed can now pay for thousands
You probably know Osinbajo studied at the London School of Economics and Political Science, but you did not know he borrowed to pay his way through.
Speaking on politics and the responsibility of governance, at a conference back in 2011, Osinbajo shared his experience as a student.
“A few years ago, as a student in a British University, I couldn’t pay my fees because my cheque had not come from Nigeria. That time, the CBN used to have a lot of trouble with remitting funds and all that, and my fees were about two months late,” he had said.
“So I spoke to the university counsellor, and she said, ‘why don’t you go to a bank and ask for money?’ And I thought, how can I just go to a bank and ask for money, when I don’t have any money at all?
“She said go speak to them, explain to them that you will pay back. So, I went up to the bank, and explained that I will pay back. I met a lady across the counter, I didn’t go into any office, I didn’t speak to the manager, and she looked at the ledger and saw I had no money.
“She said, ‘when are you expecting your money?’ I said maybe another five, six weeks. She said ‘okay’, and she handed me £600 and I paid my fees with the £600 and of course, when my cheque came, I paid it back.”
BECAME A PROFESSOR AT 33
In 1994, he became a professor of law, and four years later, he was appointed head of the department of public law at UNILAG.
But the academic entered the professorial cadre in 1990, when he was only 33 years old.
NEVER RODE A NEW CAR TILL 1998
Long before he became vice-president, Osinbajo told some members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), where he is a a pastor, that he never rode a new car for the first 41 years of his life.
“Until the year 1998, I never used a brand new car. I graduated in 1979 by the way, and I started teaching at the age of 23,” Osinbajo revealed.
“I entered the professorial cadre at 33, I did not use a brand new car till 1998. Always tokunbo. Where would I even find the money? It was always Tokunbo, but God preserved me, he saved me.
“He preserved me that I did not go and put my hands into things that I should not. Today, I get three gifts of brand new car, every year. Sometimes, I would have to say, ‘it’s ok’.”
Now he can as well drive as many new cars as he wishes — but he says he will not put his hands where he should not.
THE GOLDEN PROMISE TO HIS MOTHER
You also know Buhari-Osinbajo rode to power on the promise to bring reforms to Nigeria, what you perhaps didn’t know is that Osinbajo promised his mother that the government he will be part of, will reform the power sector.
Speaking at the Bola Tinubu colloquium in 2015, Osinbajo narrated how he went to break the news to his mother that he will be running for vice-president. He said he expected her to express reservations, but that she only offered a prayer, and said: “You must solve this NEPA problem.”
The acting president said he told his mother that reformation of the sector would be one of the priorities of the government, if they win.
Now, you know why Osinbajo is so keen on the power sector — for Nigerians, and for his mother.
‘NO NATION CAN DEVELOP WITHOUT HOURLY PAY’
Osinbajo has always held the belief that no nation can develop without hourly pay. This is even long before he turned into a key player in the nation.
“There is no nation on the face of the earth, and I stand to be corrected, that has been able to develop a first world economy without hourly pay; it is not possible. Time is the measure of money,” he had said at a leadership conference in Lagos.
“If there is no hourly pay, we can get to work when we please and decide when we leave. One of the reasons the Chinese are so effective is because of their work ethics.”
He said it was Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former minister of finance, who did a study on Nigeria and China, and found out that the “average Chinese worker is six times more productive than the average Nigerian worker”.
Nigeria may expect an hourly plan from the acting president — if he has his way.
SAM ADEYEMI’S PROPHECY
Osinbajo himself may not remember this day, but back in 2011, at the Excellence in Leadership Conference organised by Daystar Christian Centre, Adeyemi prophesied that Osinbajo and a number of others at the conference “will be leading the nation not too long from now”.
Adeyemi said: “There are people here who will lead this nation out of its current situation, there are people here who will lead this nation to greatness.
“When we aspire for political power, or when we are in position of authority, we would remember those principles, we would set those principles as objectives, and by God’s grace we would achieve.”
Today, Osinbajo is not just in power, we can say he is at the peak of power.