Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that despite the activities of those with a divisive agenda, Nigeria will prevail over her tribulations due to the resilience, faith, hope, and strength of its people.
According to a communique by his spokesman, Laolu Akande, Prof. Osinbajo stated this at the National Social Cohesion Dialogue organized by the Africa Polling Institute held at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre iin Abuja on Thursday.
Describing Nigerians as “an unbreakable people”, the VP noted that the country’s diversity can be used to drive further economic growth.
“Despite the divisive rhetoric of demagogues and the utterances of those who profit from disharmony, Nigerians do not hate each other,” Osinbajo stated.
“Every day, millions of Nigerians of different ethnicities and creeds commingle, make common cause and forge friendships across our fabled fault lines. While we have our share of such acrimony, the situation does not support the narrative that we are a nation of fragments condemned to be perpetually at each other’s throats.”
While advocating for unity despite sundry differences, the VP warned against “polarising identity politics”.
“Politicians who continue to traffic in division and discord are behind the times and have failed to take note of how much more integrated our society has become,” he added, stressing that those calling for the separation of the country will not succeed.
According to the Vice President, “an abiding feature of being a Nigerian is our optimism… Our capacity for hope is a creative optimism… Every day, millions of our people armed with their faith, skills, determination and wits take their destinies into their hands, working hard to forge a better life for themselves and their families.
“Nigerians of this ilk are everywhere repairing, healing, building, trading, and doing business. They believe that tomorrow will yield a greater harvest than that of today and that as long as they have breath in them they can change their material conditions.
“It is this capacity for hope that makes us resilient in the face of incredible odds and even in the teeth of adversity. This is who we are as a people and it is why I believe that we will prevail over today’s tribulations.”
The former Lagos commissioner admitted that in many parts of Nigeria, there is a feeling of alienation and exclusion.
“We see this whenever Nigerians are denied opportunity on the basis of their state of origin or because they are “non-indigenes”’ he added.
“We see it when a Nigerian that has been resident in a state all his life is suddenly excluded from admission into an educational institution or an employment opportunity because he is not considered an “indigene.”
The VP explained that Nigerians have the right to stay in any part of the country, stressing that “the classification of Nigerians as ‘indigenes’ and ‘non-indigenes’ is a form of apartheid and contradicts our declared aspirations towards equality and unity.”
Osinbajo noted that the fair, swift and equitable dispensation of justice to address both everyday grievances is essential for fostering social cohesion, adding that “we must strengthen institutions which at every level can deliver justice, inclusion, and mutual security”.
He cautioned the citizens against linking criminality to an ethnic group, and called for cooperation in the fight against security challenges facing the country.
“We must ensure that we see it for what it is – a criminal act which must be punished according to the law and not an ethnic conflict. Criminals must not be seen or treated as anything other than criminals and certainly not as representatives of any ethnic or religious group,” he explained.
“We will not defeat crime by dividing ourselves. We can only overcome it by uniting against our common enemy – the criminals who terrorize our people.”