Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has declared that where institutions are not strong enough to compel individual behaviour in a way that advances the common good, spirituality and commitment to social justice and transparency become important.
According to Osinbajo, “just looking at these values, there is a great deal of unanimity about what is the right thing to do. The question is whether or not you will do those things, or whether you are motivated enough to do them, or whether you are compelled to do them.
“Spirituality helps in that sense to help you decide what to do and what not to do. Especially, where institutions are not strong enough to restrain people from behaving in a particular way or not.”
This was one of the highlights of the interaction between the Vice President and a group of Harvard Business School students who visited him on Friday at the Presidential Villa, according to a statement from his office.
Numbering about a dozen, the statement signed by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, yesterday, noted that the students, who are currently on an African excursion, asked questions about leadership, faith, spirituality, government policies in education, health, economy, and national image, among others.
In his responses, the Vice President articulated his personal commitment to the virtues of integrity, transparency and social justice, which are also virtues exhorted in the different faiths and religions in the country.
He said: “For me, spirituality connotes values. I came into government with values about what I think is important, especially, around transparency, social justice and justice, among others. You are almost always a product of the values you believe in. Fortunately, a lot of these values cut across the different faiths. They are not necessarily restricted to a religion or one faith.
“In societies that are more developed institutionally, you don’t need to be told that you shouldn’t do certain things because you could end up in jail if you do and there is a good likelihood that you could be detected and the process will go through and you will be punished.
“I speak about corruption and all that. But where the institutions are weak, some people have reasons for not doing the right thing.”
Talking about Nigeria and its perception in the international community, Osinbajo explained to the postgraduate students, some of who are Nigerians, that it is in understanding the size of Nigeria that the international community can better appreciate the enormity and complexity of some of the country’s challenges.
The Vice President said: “For instance, Borno State is about the size of the whole of the United Kingdom plus Sweden or Denmark. So, when it is reported that there is violence in Nigeria, it is probably an incident in one remote area of the country, and many people in Abuja and Lagos may hear about it on social media. Such is the size of this country.
“When they talk about economy, we are often compared with smaller African countries, but there are 10 states in Nigeria that have bigger GDPs than those countries. It is a huge target market.”
The students, while thanking Osinbajo for the opportunity to visit him, according to their leader, Mr. Daniel Jaiyeoba, said they wanted to hear from the Vice President.
He said: “We understand your private sector experience. And now, you are in the public sector. That is why we put this visit together.”
The students were accompanied on the visit by the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, who had taught some of them as undergraduates.
The list of the delegation included Maan Aldaiel, Dusty Register, Tomas Tussie, Connor Popik, Ruben Anzures, Scott Kimberlee, Thomas Cowan, Laura Romine, Lanre Ojutalayo, Oluwatoyin Ogundele, Etim Imoh and Abdul-Rahman Buhari.