Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has warned that the Federal Government will no longer condone any threat to Nigeria’s unity by individuals, groups or sections of the country.
He vowed that security agencies will fish out those who continue to threaten the sovereignty of Nigeria or lives and livelihoods of other Nigerians living in any part of the country.
Osinbajo declared the government’s position on Tuesday at a meeting with traditional rulers from the northern states as part of his consultations with Nigerian leaders to douse the growing ethnic tensions across the nation.
The tension reached a climax a fortnight ago when some northern youths issued a three-month quit notice to Igbos living in the region following a sit-at-home exercise called by pro-Biafra secessionists on May 30, 2017 to mark 50 years of the struggle for the Republic of Biafra in the South East.
The Acting President acknowledged that there were frustrations and grievances by Nigerians, but cautioned that they should not degenerate into the type of crisis prevailing in the country.
He therefore called on the royal fathers to advise their subjects appropriately while the government creates a congenial environment for every ethnic or religious group to thrive.
Osinbajo said: “In all our previous engagements with Northern and South Eastern leaders, we all came to the consensus that Nigeria is stronger and better together, and that these hate-filled and divisive rhetoric and agitations are unjustifiable, unacceptable and illegal.”
“Nigeria has seen enough violence and bloodshed in its history; the price of our unity has already been paid in the blood and lives of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians.”
“As royal fathers and leaders, I think you will agree with me that we all have a role to play in countering the voices of divisiveness, and the elements who seek to take us down a bloody path.”
“Let us continue to counsel the misguided elements among our youths, who think that ethnic confrontation is a game and that words can be thrown around carelessly without repercussion.”
“Having said this, let me declare that we are not deaf to the legitimate concerns and frustrations arising from around the country. Every part of Nigeria has its own grievances. But these have to be expressed graciously and managed with mutuality rather than with scorn and disdain.”
“I will like to assure you all that we are here to listen and to answer, and, very importantly, to reassure everyone that we are committed to the unity of Nigeria, and that upon the foundation of that unity we can together build a prosperous and great country”.
The Acting President also told the northern leaders that, “we must never take our diversity for granted; the fullness of our strength actually lies in that diversity. And we must wield that diversity, not as a divisive tool, but instead as a binding agent.”
“As we round up these consultations tomorrow (Wednesday) with a meeting with governors, it is clear to me that we are all resolved to by words, conduct and action, promote the unity of our dear nation.”
Osinbajo said that the government would ensure that the entire apparatus of government is deployed to ensure that no one threatens Nigeria’s territorial integrity, the lives or livelihoods of any Nigerian living anywhere in the federation.
“Our objective is to provide the environment for a prosperous nation, a nation where all regardless of ethnicity or religion can pursue their legitimate aspirations peacefully and securely.”
The meeting was attended by the representative of the Senate President, Ibn N’Allah, who is also the Deputy Senate Leader; the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara; the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonaya Onu; the Minister of the Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazzau; the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Munguno and the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonishakin.
The traditional rulers who were led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Sa’ad, included Dr. Yahaya Abubakar, the Etsu Nupe from Niger State. the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II; Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, the Emir of Ilorin; Alhaji Mustapha Agwai II, the Emir of Lafia; Jacob Buba Jang, the Gbong Gwon Jos.
Others were Ndakwo Ameh Oboni II, the Attah Igala; Prof. James Ayatse, the Tor Tiv; Adamu Buba Baba Yinusa, the Emir of Abaji, FCT; Alhaji Muhammed Isah Muhammed, the Emir of Jama’a in Kaduna State; and Justice Lawal Hassan, the Emir of Gumi and Coordinator of the Northern Traditional Rulers’ Council.