Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called on academics and members of other professional bodies to participate actively in the task of making Nigeria a better place for all.
Mr Osinbajo’s spokesperson, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, said the vice president received, on a courtesy visit to the Presidential Villa, a team of 13 professors who came to endorse and support his aspiration ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
The top academics, drawn from the six geo-political zones, came under the aegis of the Progressive Intellectuals Advisory Group.
The group was led by Shehu Adamu, a professor and Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
“These days, you find all sorts of pretenders claiming expertise in everything under the sun without any real expertise.
“So, it is important that academics do not vacate that space to allow all sorts of people to begin to postulate on practically every issue,’’ he said.
The vice president recalled his experience as an academic who became an Attorney-General.
Mr Osinbajo welcomed the interest of the professors in the upcoming 2023 presidential elections.
“One of the most important things I recall when I served first as Attorney General of Lagos State was that it is so important for those of us who are in academics to participate because not only are we among the more knowledgeable groups, we have also done more work.
“The path that you have chosen is a very crucial one because in the future, more intellectual groups will take the responsibility that is really theirs.
“And I think that for those of us who are from the academic community, it is a privilege that we have – being the intellectual crème de la crème of our society, and this comes with responsibility.”
The vice president appreciated the group’s endorsement of his presidential aspiration.
He said that if there was any sort of endorsement that had given him particular joy, it was the group’s endorsement.
“Because if one is endorsed by professional colleagues, people who live their lives by critical analysis and evaluation; it is worth celebrating.
“These matters are not to be taken lightly. For a professor to say that he supports a political cause, it is a weighty matter indeed, because you are aware that a lot of reflections go into it.
“But when you have 13 professors all over the country saying that they are aligned to one cause; I am greatly humbled; it is one of those things that doesn’t happen often.
“We will work together to make a significant difference for our country,” Mr Osinbajo said.
Earlier in his remarks, Mr Adamu said the visit was to intimate the vice president on activities and efforts of the group to support his aspiration to become Nigeria’s president.
He said the academics were convinced of Osinbajo’s capability to lead a more prosperous Nigeria; hence their resolve not only to endorse him, but also offer their expertise and do what it would take to ensure that he emerged victorious.
Mr Adamu said the group would engage in activities, including media engagements, community mobilisation, and partnerships with other professionals, among others, to shape public opinion in a manner that will lead to a successful run by the vice president in 2023.
Another member of the delegation, Nasiru Musa Yauri, a professor and Vice Chancellor of the Al-Kalam University, Katsina, said members of the group had decided not to fold their arms.
“We will do whatever it takes to actualise the PYO 2023 project,” he said.
Moreso, Chukwuemeka Nwanegbo, a professor and Head of Political Science Department, Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka, said that members of the academic community would throw their weight behind the vice president.
“We do not want to sit back and watch the political terrain disallow you from emerging.
“So, we want to work with you, other professionals and students to actualise your bid,” he said.
Aside Messrs Adamu, Yauri and Nwanegbo, the other academics at the meeting included Yahaya Baba, Usman Danfodiyo University in Sokoto and Mashood Omotosho, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
Others were an Associate Professor, Philips Okolo, the director of the Institute of Peace and Security Studies, Niger Delta University; Shola Omotola, Federal University, Oye Ekiti; Danjuma Abubakar, IBB University, Lapai and Abdullahi Jibrin, Federal University Lafia.
Associate Professor Atelhe George, University of Calabar; Saleh Mohammed, Federal University Kashere, Gombe State, Haruna Adama, University of Yola and Ike-Elechi Ogba, Ebonyi State University were also in the delegation.