The Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday at the opening of a two-day national seminar on, “Unity in Diversity: Security and National Development”, in Abuja, said that people under the age of 50, who never witnessed the “mental and physical scars of war”, are those engaging in misleading and vocal demands for secession as well as hate speeches.
But, he said agitators’ clamour for balkanisation of Nigeria is doomed to fail.
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.
The Nations Newspaper