Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has harped on the possibility of building a Nigeria where there is trust, unity, love and where leaders do not steal the wealth of the country for selfish aggrandizement.
This was even as he maintained his stand against those agitating for the break-up of the country and the quit notice order that was recently handed to Ndigbo by northern youths.
According to the Acting President, Nigeria is the preeminent power in Africa today because of its population, the size of markets, natural resources and economy, adding that anything that will make it smaller will equally mean that it will become weaker.
A statement released by the Senior Special Assistant to the Acting President on Media & Publicity, Laolu Akande, said Osinbajo stated this when he spoke as Special Guest of Honour at the graduation of the 2017 class of Senior Course 39 of the Armed Forces Command & Staff College, Jaji on Friday.
He said, “The great challenge and the wonderful opportunity for this generation of the Nigerian elite are to build a new nation out of the rubble of cynicism, division, and suspicions.
“We can build a new nation; a new nation built on trust, consensus, and love for one another and love for our country is possible. A nation where rulers do not steal the commonwealth, where every Nigerian is safe to live and work, where the state takes responsibility for the security of each and every Nigerian, where the state knows every Nigerian by name and can find and locate each one of us.
“A Nigeria where the Ibo or Ijaw man can live peacefully in Sokoto, and the Fulani man can live peacefully in the Niger Delta.”
Emphasizing on the present tension in the country arising from agitation and hate speeches, Osinbajo said the elites are largely to be blamed for the festering negative narratives.
“I would like to emphasize the fact that this was essentially an elite phenomenon, unity and disunity are promoted by the elite which the vast majority of the Nigerian people are only later conscripted,” he said.
He further cautioned against the misuse of the democratic right of freedom of speech and said that “while we must remain irrevocably committed to freedom of expression and the tenets of a free press, we must draw the line between the freedom that conduces to a healthy democracy and that which threatens and endangers the entire democratic enterprise . It is an important balance, that we must strike. Failure in any way will be tragic.”
Osinbajo also blamed the influence of Internet as well as hate media in the exacerbation of the current tension as he said that “today a great deal of the threats facing Nigeria is being nurtured and cultivated in the vast spaces of the Internet. The rumblings of secession, the dangerous quit ultimatums to ethnic groups, the radio stations, and blogs that spew divisive speech and exploit our fault lines; all of these are now to be found online.”
The Acting President noted that the days of military rule are now behind the nation, and charged the military, its officers, and men to devote resources and talent to these new battlefields, including the internet, “where mindless verdicts on the continued unity and existence of Nigeria are daily being delivered.
“The battle is not just to defeat the terrorists, the greater battle is to defeat the ideology and mindset that feeds the madness and to cut off its oxygen, money, and publicity.”
Osinbajo said that despite the current tension “the truth is that our nation and national unity is worth preserving and protecting. We are the preeminent power in Africa today in terms of population, the size of our markets, natural resources, and economy. We are a factor in the geopolitics of the world, no one can ignore a nation state that is home to one in every four black persons. Smaller is weaker, not stronger today.”
He charged the nation to rise above unproductive ethnic and religious sentiments and advised that “we must develop the emotional intelligence required to cope and adapt in a swiftly and constantly changing world. We must adopt a global mindset, that seeks to learn from the experiences of other countries, far and near, so that we do not waste valuable time repeating mistakes that we should have learned from and learned to avoid”.