By Patience Danjuma
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has admitted that his job is very difficult, saying it was impossible to do it “for the rest of one’s life”.
He spoke at the LEA Government Primary School, Life Camp, Abuja yesterday while reading to the pupils, excerpts from a short biography of Nigeria’s first President, the Late Nnamdi Azikiwe, as part of activities marking the 2018 International Book and Copyright Day.
The transcript was on Tuesday made available to State House correspondents by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande.
Asked how he found time for his wife and children despite his busy schedule, Osinbajo said, “Let me say first that my children are quite grown up. I have two children who are already out of the university and are working. One of them just got married about a month ago; the other is already working; so they are very busy themselves.
“My last son is still in school. So, as much as possible, whenever they are home, I try and find time about two hours just to talk to them and when they are home, we pray in the morning. After prayer, we get a chance also to talk to each other. Also, my wife is around, so, I spend quite a bit of time with her anyway because we both live in Abuja. We live in Aguda House, where we see each other practically all the time.
“But I must say that it’s very difficult because I travel a lot to different parts of the country, and so, I’m not usually home, I’m not usually in Abuja. That’s one of the reasons why there are tenures for the President or Vice President; four years, eight years maximum. So, you can’t do this kind of work for the rest of your life because it’s very difficult.”
On how he became the country’s Vice President, Osinbajo said, “Let me quickly take you through the process. My party, which is the All Progressives Congress, (APC) nominated the president, President Muhammadu Buhari, as the presidential candidate in 2014, and the president, in consultation with the party, then decided to appoint me as running mate.
“So, I was appointed as the running mate. Now, the running mate means if the party wins, I become the vice president. Before then, I was teaching Law at the University of Lagos and practising Law in the courts all over Nigeria. So, I was a lawyer and a law teacher before I was appointed as the running mate to President Buhari.
“On March 28th, the election was held and on the 31st, the result of the election was announced. We won the election. That’s how I became the Vice President.”
On what his duties are as vice president, he said, “As the Vice President of Nigeria, I assist the President of Nigeria in carrying out his responsibilities, and those responsibilities are very big indeed.
“The President has responsibility to about 200 million Nigerians and all Nigerians expect him to provide leadership, in some cases amenities.
“They expect him to be a firm leader, and because we are so many and we are in different places, it’s a very major responsibility. So, I assist him in carrying out those responsibilities. I’m here, for example, talking to you, children in LEA School, as part of my responsibilities of encouraging and working with young people to make that young people aspire to achieve great things, so that they also get the chance to be good Nigerians, to be as active and contribute to the country. So, that is what I do as Vice President.”
Osinbajo also said government’s role is to provide amenities.
“Let me give you another example of that. A school such as this is a government school, so, it means the government has provided an amenity in this locality. Also, the Federal Capital Territory, which is the arm of government, provides schools, hospitals from taxpayers’ money. So, your parents, other people who are working or who are in business, pay taxes.
“Aside from taxes, government also get revenue from natural resources that we sell. So, from taxes, from proceeds of oil, other things that are sold from exports and for the business that is done, government provides some money and that money is used to build hospital, roads and so on.
“But we also get the private sector, private people, and individuals, to provide amenities. So you have some private schools and private hospitals. We encourage private people also to provide amenities because government can’t provide everything. Government simply doesn’t have enough money to provide all the amenities that we need,” he said.
The country’s number two advised the pupils to shun corruption, work hard and be honest.
According to him, “Corruption is stealing the money that belongs to all of us. This is the money supposed to use to build roads, schools, hospitals, airports; and if some people steal that money, we should arrest, put them on trial and send them to jail so that everybody else will learn a lesson.
“Nigeria’s glory, first of all, is that we are very, very brilliant people, so we have brilliant doctors, engineers, pilots, sportsmen and entertainers, and so many very brilliant people. If you make sure that as a Nigerian child, do your best in school and become something great, then we will truly regain our lost glory. So, every one of us has a duty to make sure that we work hard, do the best we can honesty and forthrightly, and our country will be truly great.”
Asked to talk about his childhood, the vice president said, “I was small; sometimes I was naughty when I was in school and my mom will spank me. And sometimes when I’m very, very good, she will buy me biscuits and sweets and tell me how very, very good I’ve been. So, if you are naughty in school, you might get spanked.”
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