But, he said agitators’ clamour for balkanisation of Nigeria is doomed to fail.
He spoke yesterday at the opening of a two-day national seminar on, “Unity in Diversity: Security and National Development”, which took at the Institute for Security Studies in Abuja.
The Acting President was supported in his stance by former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) and the Director-General of Department of State Services (DSS) Lawal Daura.
The three eminent citizens lamented that the younger generations that never witnessed the civil war were being aided by social media to disseminate hate speeches and separatist agitations.
Three traditional rulers – Chairman of Niger State Council of Traditiona Rulers Alhaji Abubakar, Chairman of South-South Traditional Rulers, King Edmund Daukoru and his counterpart in the South-East zone, Eze Ebere Chidi – delivered goodwill addresses affirming their commitment to one Nigeria.
Osinbajo, in his 28-minute keynote address at the event, said: “My wife just turned 50 and I told her that everyone of your age, including those under forty, are largely responsible for many of the inflammatory statements that we are hearing these days.
Osinbajo listed what he described as the “seven false narratives” he discovered after series of consultations with Nigerians from across the country.
“The first false narrative is that countries formed the way ours was formed are bound to fail and that Nigeria is a mere geographical expression but they do not know that the expression of ‘mere geographical expression’ was first used by a German statesman to describe Italy exactly a century before Nigeria was born,” he said.
According to Osinbajo, another false narrative was that one particular ethnic or religious group enjoys more benefit or is more responsible for the problem of Nigeria than others.
He said: “My experience shows exactly the opposite and whenever you look at the charge sheet, where people are being charged for stealing or corruption, you will always find more or less equal representation and ‘unity’.
“The truth of the matter is that where we have won are the places where we have not paid much attention to ethnic or religious differences; for example, all we want from our football teams is to win, we are not bothered about where they are from or whether they are Muslims or Christians or neither of the two, all we want is for them to score and win,” he added.
“Another false narrative is that we are better when persons from our own ethnic group are in charge. But history and experience has shown that no ethnic group is necessarily better off because a member of its ethnic group was in position of leadership.
“Yet another false narrative is that those who make the charges of marginalisation in supposedly in favour of their ethnic or religious group are altruistic but what some of them are really saying is ‘I am asking for myself’.”
The Acting President emphasised the need to emphatically control the flow of hate speeches.
He asserted that it was a fallacy for anyone to assume that any part of Nigeria would thrive enough on its own.
Among five major solutions or things that Nigeria must do, according to Osinbajo, is to respect one another, assurance of safety of life and properties for Nigerians in all parts of the country and ensuring social justice through initiatives like the Federal Government’s N500 billion social investment programme for economic empowerment.
Describing corruption and impunity as ‘the worst evil this country has ever experienced’, he said no one should attempt to justify any leader’s corrupt practices.
He added that the youth, who presently constitute two-thirds of Nigeria’s population, must assertively seek power rather than an endless wait to become the so-called “leaders of tomorrow”.
Gen. Gowon, whom several speakers laud as an icon of Nigeria’s unity, flayed those he described as “emergency national agitators” and their calls for secession, adding that no nation has ever survived multiple wars.
“Rather than scare away foreign investors, agitators need to think of the danger that their actions pose.
“The Federal Government need not use force against agitators, except as a measure of last resort.
“Nigeria as a nation is stronger together, there is unity in our diversity,” Gen. Gowon stated.
He stressed that the DSS has a responsibility to continue nipping in the bud all potential crises that threaten the nation’s unity and development.
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