Prof. Yemi Osinbajo SAN, GCON became the poster boy of intellectual discourse in the Recreation community where he traversed with warm admiration in his eight years in office as Vice President. With speeches upon speeches on national issues, he honored several invitations of most social clubs and gave cerebral lectures that drew wide applauses. Below are the sound bites and pictures of his forays.
Ikoyi Club 80th Anniversary on September 27, 2018
Title: ELITES OWE A RESPONSIBILITY TO PLAN, MAKE SACRIFICES FOR THEIR COMMUNITIES
The club is without a doubt, in a class of its own, standing out in the diversity of its membership, cutting across tribes and tongues, across age and gender, religion and importantly this day, political affiliation.
I have in fact been told that your 6,000 members come from more than fifty different countries in the world.
At the time of its founding, the Ikoyi Club was a European-only club, closed to black people, and to Nigerians. The journey of the Club from these segregated beginnings, is today, clearly an embodiment of multiculturalism, and is also an important part of the story that should be told again and again, so that it serves as a permanent reminder that divisions and prejudices are unworthy of us and can be conquered.
Regarding the matter of the nature of our Federation, there is no doubt that the best structure for an ethnically and religiously diverse population is a Federation, one that recognizes those diversities, for instance, language diversity. More importantly, the Federation should have strong States.
The first, the State that constitute this Federation must do certain things for themselves. The second is the devolution of more power to the States, enabling the States to control more of their resources and make more of their own administrative decisions such as the creation of Local Governments; the State and community police, including the State prisons; creation of special courts and tribunals of equivalent jurisdiction to high courts.
The third point is that a State has exclusive legislative and executive authority over urban and regional planning functions.
The fourth is that the President has no power, however good his reasons may be, to seize or withhold the statutory allocation of a State or local government. No matter how good the reason of the Federal Government may be, it cannot withhold the funds of a State.
Association of Friends (ASSO) 40th anniversary on November 12, 2018
Title: RESTRUCTURING, TO BE OR NOT TO BE?
This Club is a great gathering of some of the best minds in Yoruba land and indeed, this nation. The Club recognizes that it is the duty of the elite in any society, to think for the society, to plan for the development of the society and to set the standards of integrity, morality, and high values for the society.
I commend the Asso Club for the excellent manner in which it has discharged its responsibilities to our race and nation. I want to say specifically, that every elite club such as yours, has an important duty, and that duty does not end at any point in time. As a matter of fact, that duty is handed down from one generation to the other.
The commonly held notion of restructuring, meaning geographical restructuring, will not achieve much. By that, I mean that the suggestion that we should go back to the old regions or create more states will not solve the problem.
Most of the states won’t even agree to go back to the old regions or arrangements, fancy trying to get Ekiti and Ondo to merge, or Oyo and Osun states? ….Our problem isn’t in having more functionaries, one extra government, another house of assembly and judiciary, that is not our problem. In fact, one of our current problems is that the cost of government is too high, too many people in public positions being paid large sums of money…. When we got into office in 2015, 23 states had not paid salaries; they owed between 3months to 11months salaries.
What we need is the restructuring that gives us stronger states. Stronger states within a Federation can, with the critical mass of resources they aggregate, solve the four problems I had highlighted above.
Lagos Country Club 70th Anniversary on August 30, 2019
Title: PROMOTING NATIONAL COHESION AS A MEANS OF PROMOTING PROGRESS AND PROSPERITY
I am glad to note that the Club continues to advance the noble goals for which it was founded in 1949, notably to promote family values, use sports and other recreational activities to deepen social solidarity and promoting inter-ethnic and inter-racial understanding among people.
Indeed, the Club’s membership which is multicultural, ecumenical and composed of people from diverse backgrounds, is a testament to your commitment to fostering understanding across ethnic, racial and other lines of identity.
The spectacle of so many people of diverse creeds and ethnicities, united by a common purpose and vision, is perhaps the most profound hallmark of the Lagos Country Club. In this sense, the Club is achieving in an understated, but not insignificant scale, the sort of cohesion and civic mutuality that we all aspire to as a nation.
Nigeria is a complex country, composed of over 180 million people of 250 ethnic groups, who speak about 400 different languages and dialects. She belongs to the league of nations, composed of a multiplicity of ethnicities and creeds. It has become commonplace for people to define Nigeria’s diversity as a uniquely problematic attribute that condemns us to perennial volatility and internecine strife on a regular basis. However, we must reject these notions as unfounded. Nigeria is not in any way exceptional or unusual simply because she is diverse.
The rise of xenophobia, nationalism and other forms of chauvinism on the global scene, indicates that the challenge of managing diversity is not just a Nigerian or an African problem. Racial, ethnic and sectarian tensions, are common to diverse societies everywhere. Just as heterogeneity does not condemn a society to perpetual conflict, neither does homogeneity in itself, insure a society against strife. The mere fact that we all speak the same language or belong to the same tribe doesn’t mean that there won’t be strife. In the same way, the mere fact that we all speak different languages or belong to different tribes and religion doesn’t mean there must be strife.
Lagos as a port city, obviously benefitted from its coastal location as a gateway to the African continent for traders and adventurers from beyond the seas, as well as from the hinterland. Kano was a major terminal on the trans-Saharan trade route, drawing commercial traffic from as far north as the Maghreb and the Middle East and from Southern Nigeria.
From the foregoing, it is clear that when we create spaces for migratory talent to flourish without discrimination, there is an economic multiplier effect that results in an ever-increasing radius of growth.
I think if properly harnessed, diversity is a powerful driver of economic growth and is therefore desirable.
Lagos Island Club 59TH Independence Day Lecture on October 4, 2019
Title: NIGERIA AT 59: THE WHOLE IS ONLY AS GREAT AS THE SUM OF ITS PARTS
This club has been a bastion for diversity in all its 66 years of existence, pursuing a motto of dignity, regardless of colour or creed and this exemplary message of unity is more pertinent than ever in an increasingly divided world.
At a time when Nigeria was still a British colony and most social clubs were either exclusively for the British or the Nigerians, the Island Club was intentional about ensuring that there was inter-racial harmony within the club, and its members put the same effort into fighting racism in Nigerian society more broadly.
The 1948 anti-racism march on Bristol Hotel by Island Club members was an impetus behind the colonial government’s decision to desegregate hospitals, clubs and residential areas across Nigeria. I know that this is a story that you are all familiar with but I am raising it again today to remind you that the Island Club has played a key role in Nigeria’s story of progress and unity.
Since its inception in 1943, whether as a collective or through the triumphs of individual members.
Some of the most revered lawyers, judges and justices have been members here, upholding our laws and constitutional clauses with the utmost integrity. Many of our country’s forefathers such as Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Sir Tafawa Balewa also passed through here.
For many of our people, the overriding sentiment concerning Nigeria is one of hopelessness and resignation. I believe that our recovery as a people must begin in the domains of thought and the imagination, in a reappraisal of who we are as Nigerians. We have to confront the physical and psychological forces that foisted a self-limiting and defeatist perception of ourselves and our possibilities.
While the question of national unity may have been settled, the issue of the living arrangements within this union remain the subject of vigorous disputation. This need not alarm us. Like the Americans, we must always strive towards “a more perfect union.” And part of this process requires us to constantly examine the way we live and subject it to rigorous debate. This is what it means to be a democracy. Indeed, in an ethnically and religiously diverse society such are ours, democracy will permit a plurality of perspectives to exist in creative tension. Our vigorous debates are part of that dynamic.
The nation cannot be wealthy when its component parts, the States – are poor. The standard of living of the Federation depends on the standard of living of people who live in the States. In other words, the Federation can only be as rich as its richest State and as strong as its strongest State. Our national indices merely aggregate the realities of our weaknesses and strengths as present in all our constituent units. Consequently, we can only build a stronger and more prosperous nation by building stronger and more prosperous States.