By Donald Ugwu
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday said he believed in citizens discuss of terms of their existence as people of the same country.
Osinbajo expressed his believe when he addressed a colloquium in Abuja tagged: “Biafra: 50 years after’’ organised by the Yar’Adua Foundation, the Ford foundation and the Open Society Initiative West Africa.
“Let me make it clear that I fully believe that Nigerians should exercise to the fullest extent the right to discuss or debate the terms of our existence.
“Debate and disagreement are fundamental aspects of democracy.
“We recognise and acknowledge that necessity and today’s event is along those lines – an opportunity not merely to commemorate the past, but also to dissect and debate it.
“Let’s ask ourselves tough questions about the path that has led us here, and how we might transform yesterday’s actions into tomorrow’s wisdom.
“Indeed our argument is not and will never be that we should ‘forget the past’, or ‘let bygones be bygones’ as some have suggested.”
Osinbajo recalled the writing of late Chinua Achebe who “repeatedly reminded us of the Igbo saying that a man who cannot tell where the rain began to beat him cannot know where he dried his body’’.
He, therefore, noted that “if we lose the past, we will inevitably lose the opportunity to make the best of the present and the future.’’
Osinbajo warned that Nigerians should be careful that they did not focus exclusively on the narratives of division at the expense of the uplifting and inspiring ones.
He noted that “clearly our strength is in our diversity, that we are greater together than apart.
“Our frustrations with some who speak different dialects or belong to different religion must not drive us to forget that many share the same challenges.
“The individual affections and friendships we forge, some even deeper than family ties, must remind us that unity is possible, that brotherhood across tribes and faiths is possible.’’
The Acting President criticised the use of social media to fan the embers of division.
“And for every young Nigerian who sees the Internet as an avenue for spewing ethnic hatred, there is another young Nigerian who is falling in love or doing business across ethnic and cultural lines.
“They are the stories that remind us that the journey to nationhood is not an event but a process, filled with some bitter and some sweet experiences.
“The most remarkable attribute of that process is that a succeeding generation does not need to bear the prejudices and failures of the past,’’ he added.
Osinbajo said that every new generation could take a different and more ennobling route than its predecessors.
He said the greatest responsibility today was on the leadership of the country, not only political leadership.
“The promise of our constitution which we have sworn to uphold is that we would ensure a secure, and safe environment for our people to live and work in peace.
“That we will provide just and fair institutions of justice.”
“It is the duty of leaders to give us a vision, a pathway to make our unity in diversity even more perfect,’’ he said.
He explained that many countries had suffered the same problems as Nigeria and also were multi ethnic but had placed such differences aside to make their nations great.
According to Osinbajo, every Nigerian should put their differences away and unite for a better and more prosperous nation.(NAN)