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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Nigeria must remain one,Governors tell agitators

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yemi-osinbajo
Governors told Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday that they are united with the Federal Government to keep Nigeria as one indivisible entity.

“It has been unanimously decided that the unity of this country is sacrosanct, is non-negotiable and we have all agreed to work together to educate people,” Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi said. He was briefing reporters on the outcome of the governors’ meeting with Prof. Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

The meeting was the last of Osinbajo’s consultations with various groups of leaders following the escalation of ethnic tension last month.

He had met with leaders of thought and traditional rulers from the North and the Southeast. After all the meetings, the indivisibility of Nigeria was emphasized.

But the hate messages from the separatist groups in the Southeast and the October quit order against the Igbo issued by some youths in the North remain unabated.

Ajimobi added: ”Any time you have agitation, usually, there will be poverty, there will be unemployment, there will be hardship; so, we should address fundamentally these areas of poverty,   unemployment and hardship.

“Nigerians are by nature a united people; nobody cares whether you are from the North, South or the East.

“The unity must be there and we cannot play with the unity of this country. The consensus has been that there must be unity.

“The message is for Nigerians to work more together and collaborate. We have more to gain when we are united. We cannot afford to break, and anybody who is thinking of that he is wasting his time and we will not allow it, not in this country. All of us are unanimous about that.

“To you the media, look for what unites us and not sensational news. If we fight, everybody will lose, have you ever seen a country that fought civil war and remained the same? We don’t  want to be another Rwanda and Somalia and all these places. The government is doing its best.” he said

Before the meeting went into a closed session Osinbajo urged governors to ensure the safety of all Nigerians living in their states.

He said: “We as a Federal Government are committed to working with the state governments in ensuring peace and stability in our country. I want to charge each and everyone of us as top of the agenda for us is the peace and security of lives and properties of those who live within the borders of our states.

“The security of their lives and properties, everyone of them, assuring them constantly that we are committed to ensuring that all Nigerians, wherever they may be from, can live within the borders of our states happily as brothers and sisters.” he said

The Acting President went on: “We must not allow the careless use of words, careless expressions that may degenerate into crisis. We are a people that like to talk and we express ourselves loudly but it is expected for us to recognise that it is those same words that can cause conflagration, that can unfortunately lead to calamity.

“We must be careful of how we express ourselves. What we have seen in recent times is that some of the languages used have tended to degenerate badly and I think that we must begin to speak up against some of these things and ensure that we protect our democracy and our nation from the hands of rhetorics that may just divide us.

“From all of the consultations we have had, all agreed on certain issues. We agreed that Nigeria’s unity should not be taken for granted. No one wants to see us go down the path of bloodshed or war.

“We also agreed on the permanency of the Nigerian constitution, that 1999 Constitution is the basis for our unity. It is the basis for the legal contract that exists between all of us. Our meetings were frank and open as I hope this will be. We were able to agree on most of the critical issues that were discussed and in most cases changed perceptions that may have been long embedded in their minds.

“We also agreed that under no circumstances should we condone hateful speeches and that government should take all steps necessary to bring to book all those who preach violence, in particular the kind of expressions of dissent that can cause violence.

“We also agreed that we need to do more to engage our youth productively, create some jobs, multiply the economic opportunities available. More importantly, we agreed on the need for leaders to speak out forcefully to counter divisive speech or any kind of war mongering. We agreed that leaders at all levels speak out forcefully against any kind of divisiveness or divisive speech.”

“And we expect that our political leaders will do so without waiting to be prompted. All of those who spoke to… sometimes when leaders do not speak up promptly it always results in degeneration, no matter what the problem may be.

“This applied to both the statement made by the young people in the

Southeast as well as the youth in the Northern states. We discovered there was a need for much greater resonance in the way that these things are done and for the leaders to speak up more forcefully.

“We believe that if the leaders do not speak up forcefully enough, if for any reason matters are allowed to degenerate, not only does leadership lose their legitimacy, they run the risk of things going completely out of control.” he said

Commending the leaders from the North and South for their openness at the consultation meetings, Osinbajo said that “they were extremely responsible even in their criticisms of what they felt were issues that should have been better handled”. “I think that their criticisms were fair and balanced. I must commend them for their sense of responsibility and their leadership.”

He told the governors that some of the issues included  herdsmen and farmers crisis.

The Acting President said: “Especially the way that some of these have resulted in flashpoints across the country. We started those discussions during the consultations we had and I believe that we will be able to deepen those discussions in our meeting and possibly hold a more expanded meeting where we will be able to take a closer look at it.

“It is absolutely important that we are able to make lasting and satisfactory solutions to these problems. Of course, the problems are multidimensional but the states have a very important role to play, especially because they are in control of land in their territories.

“I must say that I trust that all of us must appreciate the need to show greater unity of purpose and the determination to work together to resolve various challenges that arise on a constant basis for the benefit of all Nigerians, regardless of party affiliations.

“We must resist the temptation to play politics, especially with matters of security, but to reach for simplistic narratives that might be originally expedient and satisfying but false, deceiving and sometimes unhealthy to proper understanding of the issues. Sometimes, intensions are perceived on the account of the fact that they have wrong perception about a particular thing.

“I think it is in our place to ensure that we dig down the fact and ensure that people are given the fact and ensure that we don’t colour them with politics,” Osinbajo stated.

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