How Buhari is changing leadership perception in Nigeria, Africa —Osinbajo

•Details how N/East would be rebuilt

VICE-PRESIDENT Yemi Osinbajo has said President Muhammadu Buhari is beginning to change the narrative and perception of leadership in Nigeria and Africa, because of his widely acclaimed uprightness and honesty.

Osinbajo stated this while delivering a public lecture, entitled: “The Unravelling of Boko Haram and the Rebuilding of the North-East of Nigeria,” at the Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, on Thursday.

Before he spoke, the vice president had been received in the school by the Harvard University Marshall, Ms Jackie O’Neil and Professor Jacob Olupona of the Divinity School, among other top Harvard officials and professors.

Osinbajo said the Buhari presidency offered Nigeria and, indeed, Africa the best opportunity to convince the entire world about leadership perception in the country and the continent.

According to Professor Osinbajo, “the commitment that the Federal Government has made is to be consistent and there is no distrust for the political leadership in Nigeria today, and for good reason, this has promoted the easy embrace of dissenters of all shades by the people.”

According to him, “Nigeria has a great opportunity to change the perception of leadership as being corrupt and unreliable, with President Buhari who is widely acknowledged as being forthright and honest, Mai gaskiya (the truthful one, as he is known in the North).

“Transparency in government, social investments, provision of education and healthcare could improve the government’s image as being responsive.”

Osinbajo, who spoke on some of the causes of Nigeria’s security, social, political and economic challenges, noted that governance failure in the past culminated in the myriad of problems that manifested in the form of terrorism, kidnapping, general insecurity and many others that predated the Buhari government.

On the Boko Haram insurgency, Professor Osinbajo said the inability of previous governments to implement programmes and policies that had direct impact on poor Nigerians, alongside endemic corruption, led to a degeneration of the situation in the North-East.

He, however, expressed optimism that the Buhari government’s posture and actions had changed the narrative for the better, stressing that the international community and Nigerians, including a few skeptics, now believed in the government’s abilities to change things.

“Clearly, one of the strongest reasons for President Buhari’s victory in the March 2015 presidential election was the expectation that going by his reputation as a no-nonsense soldier, he would defeat Boko Haram and restore peace to the North-East.

“He moved quickly to realise this objective, announcing a relocation of the command and control headquarters to Maiduguri right at the heart of the insurgency.

“With more effective leadership, command and control, improved logistics and intelligence, better equipment and motivation of the troops, the tide soon turned,” he said.

The vice president told his audience that the Federal Government remained committed to rebuilding the devastated North-East region through a comprehensive plan that is also transparent.

According to Professor Osinbajo,  “the overall objective of the Buhari plan is to develop a structure and process capable of providing leadership, coordination and synergy in achieving its targeted goals.”

He said the goals are to “restore peace, stability and civil authority in the North-East; coordinate the mobilisation of targeted resources to respond to the humanitarian crisis and jumpstart the region’s economies, while strategically repositioning the region for long-term prosperity.

He stressed the need for stakeholders to partner with government at all levels to counter the ideology of the insurgents as one of the measures of addressing the menace of terrorism.

“While we had to put troops on the ground to liberate occupied territories and free captive people in the North-East, we would have to continue the battle for the minds of the radicalised many so that we can have more Aminas of Dikwa saying no to terrorist propositions of death, despair and destruction,” Osinbajo added.

The vice president concluded that the Federal Government’s commitment and strategy in combating Boko Haram and rebuilding the region was anchored on its anti-corruption posture which would ultimately ensure judicious utilisation of resources for both the military’s operations and in implementing the non-kinetic aspect of reconstructing the North-East.