Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has described Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as an institution who has painstakingly groomed many leaders for all spheres of national life.

Osinbajo made the remarks while delivering a virtual speech at the 12th Bola Ahmed Tinubu Colloquium with the theme: “Our Common Bond, Our Common Wealth: the imperative of national cohesion for growth and prosperity," on Monday, March 29, 2021.

He also said the foundation to building a new Nigeria is already being laid, and that this foundation requires a growing new tribe of Nigerians who are willing to make the necessary sacrifices.

The colloquium, conceived by Osinbajo as a platform to celebrate the former Lagos State governor, has held annually since 2009, except in 2020 when it was shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who also participated in the colloquium virtually, in his remarks noted that “notwithstanding our diversity of ethnicity, culture, language, and religion, Nigerians are better together, even stronger together.

"Asiwaju himself is a known advocate of unity and cohesion in Nigeria; this has been a constant factor in his outstanding political career.”

The vice president participated in the event virtually after weather conditions put paid to his Kano travel plans.

Some governors and senators of the governing APC also had to make do with participating virtually from the Abuja airport, due to unfavourable flying conditions.

“This would be my first colloquium where I will not be physically present at the venue. Several of us did the best we could from Abuja to get to Kano this morning, but bad weather certainly gave us so much difficulty that we were unable to fly there,” Osinbajo said.

On building a new Nigeria, the vice president stated that the 12th Colloquium presented a golden opportunity to “increase the number of a new tribe of Nigerians,” which he described as “a tribe of men and women of all faiths, tribes, and ethnicities, committed to a country run on high values of integrity, hard work, justice and love of country,” a theme he has articulated in several speeches.

He added that this was “a tribe of men and women who are prepared to make the sacrifices and self-constraints that are crucial to building a strong society; who are prepared to stick together, fight for equity and justice side by side.

"A tribe consisting professionals, businessmen, politicians, religious leaders and all others who believe that this new Nigeria is possible. And already, we are building the building blocks for this new Nigeria.”

Osinbajo delivers a virtual speech at the 12th Bola Tinubu colloquium which held in Kano on March 29, 2021 (Tolani Alli)
Osinbajo delivers a virtual speech at the 12th Bola Tinubu colloquium which held in Kano on March 29, 2021 (Tolani Alli)

The vice president further stated that the colloquium, which is being hosted in Kano-- outside Lagos or Abuja for the first time --was a pointer that Nigeria’s diversity is better harnessed as strength to further unite the country.

Osinbajo commended the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, for hosting the colloquium, stating that it further deepens the essence of national unity. “Only a few days ago, we were set to have a completely virtual colloquium with a hub in Lagos, the customary location of the colloquium, when Governor Ganduje graciously offered to host the physical aspect of the hybrid colloquium.

"By this gesture, Governor Ganduje has helped us to tell two stories. First is that, it is befitting that Kano should be that place, this city of radical and progressive ideas and ideologies; a city whose leading political lights have been left of centre, which is the dominant tendency within our great party the All Progressives Congress.

“Secondly, it helps us to underscore the point that this country and its people are stronger and more powerful together than apart.

"For the purveyors of breaking up into small components perhaps they should be reminded that we would not have been able to accept Governor Ganduje’s offer to come to Kano at short notice, since we would all have needed visas to come to Kano.”

Osinbajo then stated that the colloquium has become an institution in honor of an institution, which Tinubu has become.

He added that Asiwaju’s leadership style has helped groom great leaders and people in society.

He said, “It was Barrister Ismaeel Ahmed at the 9th colloquium in Abuja, who said so insightfully and I quote, that, ‘there is perhaps no Nigerian leader who has been as instrumental in raising as many leaders as Asiwaju.’

"This explains why gathered here today is a serving vice president, several governors, former governors, commissioners and former commissioners, honourable ministers, former ministers, local government functionaries, social agitators, top-ranking journalists who can trace their careers and political trajectories to Asiwaju’s leadership. What is responsible for this phenomenon, is Asiwaju’s leadership style, and it is an unusual one, especially in developing democracies.”

Osinbajo also said Asiwaju’s leadership style was based on the power of ideas, and the latitude to engage a variety of brilliant and creative ideas on several fronts.

He explained: “Central to that style are the following, first a belief that development, economic, social, political development depends on enabling a contest of ideas. Whether that is within a political party or its caucuses, a cabinet meeting or even just thinking through a problem.

"By exposing his thoughts and ideas constantly to debate and contestation he refines his views constantly and is at the cutting edge of issues as varied as Artificial intelligence, vaccines, to even what sort of legal processes or arguments should be filed in a matter in court!

“Secondly, and perhaps more importantly because he is not afraid of having his ideas scrutinized, criticized by even his subordinates, he is able to lead a vast array of persons of strong, deeply held convictions, and a variety of ideologies.

“The third is that he is completely comfortable engaging across ethnic, religious and partisan divides.

"It is his belief that national development is only possible when we, the leaders are constantly interrogating ideas, perspectives and opinions, which is what led some of us who worked with him through the years to formalize our constant debates....so that on his birthday we open up discussions on some issue or issues of national importance.”

Dignitaries who attended the colloquium chaired by President Buhari include President George Weah of Liberia; and former President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. Also present were several state governors, ministers, and senior government officials.

The keynote address was delivered by Prof. Dan Rodrik, a Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; while the panel discussion was moderated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama.

The panelists included President Weah; Dr. Koroma; Mohamed Yahaya, Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Amaka Anku, Practice Head, Africa Eurasia Group, Washington DC; and Nimdir Nansoh, Founder/CEO, HoP Africa.