Osinbajo, Buhari Here's why Acting President has been better than his boss

Prof Osinbajo has reminded Nigerians of the kind of President they should have. It's still a long walk to freedom, however

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Yemi Osinbajo touches down in Bayelsa play

Yemi Osinbajo touches down in Bayelsa

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The first time I shared a room with Nigeria's Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, he was charming the audience, working the crowd and inspiring hope.

The second time I shared a room with Nigeria's Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, he was charming the audience, working the crowd and inspiring hope.

The third time....

Ok, that's enough.

But I'm sure you catch my drift.

Osinbajo is often in his elements when in a room full of people.

He is after all, a Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Communicating effectively comes naturally to him. Plus, years of practice from the pulpit haven't hurt his speaking abilities.

But Osinbajo is more than an eloquent communicator.

Nigeria's Vice President transmits charisma and aura with the ease with which internet sensation, Salt Bae, dispenses seasoning on slabs of beef in mid-air.

play Osinbajo (center) at the Murtala Mohammed memorial lecture (Presidency)

 

We've been forced to see plenty of Osinbajo lately as he stands in for President Muhammadu Buhari who is away in London on a vacation that has since morphed into a Nollywood movie, complete with photo-ops.

And we like what we've seen of Osinbajo.

In Buhari's absence, Osinbajo has shown glimpses of the modern day, 21st century leader we've always yearned for around here.

When Nigerians took to the streets to vent their frustrations in the face of economic hardship, Osinbajo responded with "we hear you loud and clear".

When labour leaders led a protest to the gates of the seat of power in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) city of Abuja, Osinbajo abandoned his work desk to chat with them.

Buhari would have sent a member of his kitchen cabinet or an aide to meet with the Union leaders.

VP Osinbajo and President Buhari receive Facebook's Zuckerberg in Abuja play It's selfie time with Mark Zuckerberg (Presidency)

 

Osinbajo has been representing Buhari in the Niger Delta where he's been saying all the right things and hitting all the right notes.

The crowds in the restive Delta warmed up to him because he wore his heart on his sleeves. Or appeared to wear his heart on his sleeves.

He is reprimanding the locals for vandalising oil installations on one hand and reminding them that they are stake-holders in the Nigerian project, on the other. Why destroy what is essentially yours?, he's been asking aloud.

The messaging has been crisp and clear.

He's the diplomat where Buhari is the enforcer. And diplomacy is what scores you points on the streets these days, not the butt of a gun.

ALSO READ: 'We'll make Niger Delta more economically vibrant,' Acting President says

What you are about to read are excerpts of a speech Osinbajo delivered in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, earlier in the week:

"We must admit to ourselves that damage to pipelines and export facilities are also damage to infrastructure.

"Such damage also affects gas supply and if we are unable to generate electricity, all our demands for electrification may come to nought since there will be nothing to distribute.

"Your Excellencies and the good people of Rivers State, the future is here. There is no time to waste. We must all re-commit to working together to making the Niger Delta a vibrant and dynamic economic zone. 

"On its part, the Federal Government will use its forthcoming Economic Recovery and Growth Plan to restore growth, diversify the economy and promote social inclusion. We intend to do so through dedicated spending on capital and by paying particular attention to ensuring supply of power and petroleum products in addition to using small businesses to drive our push for industrialization.

play Federal executive council meeting (Presidency)

 

"As you have challenged the Federal Government to action, I challenge the State and communities too, to play their part faithfully. If we do, we will change the trajectory of the history of neglect and attain the glorious manifest destiny of the people of this State".

It was classic Osinbajo.

ALSO READ: Acting President directs contractors who abandoned projects to return to site

The point to be made is that it is not what Osinbajo says, but how he says them, that has drawn similarities between himself and his boss.

A leader must own the text of a speech submitted by speech-writers. Buhari's speeches often come across as though there are owned by the speech-writers.

Buhari communicates as though he doesn't believe what he reads out loud.

Osinbajo delivers his speeches with conviction. His leadership style seeks to engage. He shows some empathy.

Buhari's leadership style is aloof and distant. Like the famed village headmaster, Buhari seeks to scold with a scowl and whip.

Osinbajo is the charmer-in-chief. And by jove, it is working.

It is part of the toolkit of a modern day leader to possess some feelings. Buhari would rather be cold.

The difference between the President and the Vice President's leadership styles stem from the demographic they rely upon.

play Buhari and Osinbajo in a group photo with State Governors (Presidency)

 

Buhari relies on the likes of Mamman Daura for his views on life and leadership.

Buhari relies on characters who cut their teeth in the traditional media, to drive his media and communication strategies.

59-year-old Osinbajo has surrounded himself with Ipad and smartphone wielding millennials who form the core of his media and strategy teams and upon whom he leans on for communication and governance strategies.

Osinbajo's view of the world is modern and zeitgeist.

Buhari is stuck in the '80s--he's a relic of an era long gone.

Let's admit it--we've warmed up to the Law Professor because he's the kind of President we've always wanted and exactly the kind of character the major political parties in the land won't affix on the ballot paper because he doesn't have bags of money or because he has no affiliation to the leadership cabal that has held this nation hostage since 1960.

For now, let's enjoy a President Yemi Osinbajo while it lasts. It's the very least we can do.

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