By profuse printed and oral utterances so much had been said about General Muhammadu Buhari’s cleanliness, incorruptibility, Spartan lifestyle and unswerving mission and vision for Nigeria. The personality of General Buhari had eclipsed or dwarfed the entire All Progressives Congress political formation.
But not many Nigerians know that Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) possesses the above qualities and attributes in sufficient measure. He has in the past four decades maintained exceptional clean living and clean thinking. He is highly dedicated to the Nigerian cause and dream. Above all he is an outstanding intellectual and legal genius. He took his professorial chair of the highly rated Faculty of Law, University of Lagos at a comparatively tender age. He also took the silk (the Senior Advocate of Nigeria) at a fairly very young age.
He anchored the international conferences that led to the establishment of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, the Federal Road Safety Commission and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.
Prof. Yemi Osinbajo said at the conference that preceded the establishment of the NDLEA: “It is fairly difficult to discern any pattern in policy formulation and legislation on the drug problem and this is hardly surprising. Law making in this area has always been a direct response to prevailing public opinion and exigencies of the time. Thus drug laws have been variously made on the premise that a social problem of drug use exists.”
Prof. Yemi Osinbajo also spearheaded the unification of the criminal laws and procedure of Northern and Southern Nigeria. This project was awaiting the signature of former President Ibrahim Babangida before he stepped aside in 1993. It is disheartening that some curious officials at the Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja, have now appropriated the authorship of that project to themselves. He has also documented and published a widely acclaimed comprehensive Nigerian Customary Laws.
Prof. Yemi Osinbajo appeared before us at the Failed Banks Tribunal, Lagos Zone from 1997 to 1999. The Judges, including the writer, can readily bear tribute that his oratory, elocution and presentations were exemplary.
In fact his strong sweep of thought and wonderful dialectics in court place him in the league of legal grandmasters like late Chief Rotimi Williams (SAN), late Chief Clement Obiora Akpamgbo (SAN) and Prof. A. B. Kasumu (SAN).
As Attorney General of Lagos State, Professor Osinbajo recommended and saw through, the implementation of a welfare package for Judges of Lagos State High Court, far higher and better than those enjoyed by Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. He is very urbane, decorous, humble and highly respectful. He had remained religious and unspoilt notwithstanding rapid successes.
In 1991 he co-edited an epic work entitled: “Democracy and the Law.” It is my surmise that the book would now come to him handy as he begins the enormous and onerous business of democratic governance and the strengthening of democratic institutions in Nigeria.
Evidently in Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) General Muhammadu Buhari has a soulmate and a dependable comrade in the task of ensuring that Nigeria no longer staggers. I can testify that a sip of executive powers will never produce intoxication in him.
Justice I.A. Umezulike is the Chief Judge of Enugu State.