By Ismaila Chafe
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday urged state governors must safeguard the lives and properties of all citizens residing in their states.
Osinbajo, who gave the advice at a consultative meeting with the governors at the Presidential Banquet, Abuja, said the directive had become imperative in view of the fact that “Nigeria is indissoluble’’.
He warned that leaders must not allow “the careless use of words and careless expressions” that might degenerate into crisis.
He said: “”We are a people that like to talk and we express ourselves loudly but it is expected for us to recognise that it is those same words that can cause conflagration that can unfortunately lead to calamity.
“”We must be careful of how we express ourselves.
“What we have seen in recent times is that some of the languages used have tended to degenerate badly and I think that we must begin to speak up against some of these things and ensure that we protect our democracy and our nation from the hands of rhetorics that may just divide us.”
The acting president revealed that from his previous consultative meetings with leaders of thought from the North and South East states of the federation the meetings had agreed that Nigeria’s unity should not be taken for granted.
According to him, no one wants to see Nigeria goes done the path of bloodshed or war, saying all the leaders including traditional leaders agreed on the permanency of the Nigeria’s constitution, is the basis for the nation’s unity.
“”It is the basis for the legal contract that exists between all of us.
“”Our meetings were frank and open as I hope this will be. We were able to agree on most of the critical issues that were discussed and in most cases changed perceptions that may have been long embedded in their minds.
“”We also agreed that under no circumstances should we condone hateful speeches and that government should take all steps necessary to bring to book all those who preach violence, in particular the kind of expressions of dissent that can cause violence.’’
He said the leaders also agreed on the need to do more to engage the youth productively by ways of creating more jobs and economic opportunities.
He stated that they all agreed on the need for leaders to speak out forcefully to counter divisive speech or any kind of woe mongering.
“”We agreed that leaders at all levels speak out forcefully against any kind of divisiveness or divisive speech.
“”And we expect that our political leaders will do so without waiting to be prompted.
““All of those who spoke felt that sometimes when leaders do not speak up promptly it always results in degeneration no matter what the problem may be.
“”This applied to both the statement made by the young people in the South East as well as the youth in the Northern states.
“”We discovered there was a need for much greater resonance in the way that these things are done and for the leaders to speak up more forcefully.
““We believe that if the leaders do not speak up forcefully enough if for any reason matters are allowed to degenerate, not only does leadership lose their legitimacy, they run the risk of things going completely out control,’’ he added.
He commended the leaders from the North and South for their openness at the consultations, stating “that they were extremely responsible even in their criticisms of what they felt were issues that should have been better handled.
“”I think that their criticisms were fair and balanced. I must commend them for their sense of responsibility and their leadership.’’
Osinbajo challenged the governors to find lasting solutions to the herdsmen and farmers crisis, especially the way that some of these have resulted in flashpoint across the country.
According to him, the problems are multidimensional but the states have a very important role to play especially because they are in control of land in their territories.
He also stressed the need for the governors to show greater unity of purpose and the determination to work together to resolve various challenges facing Nigeria as a geo-political entity.
The acting president said they must resist the temptation to play politics especially with matters of security, but to reach for simplistic narratives that might be originally expedient and satisfying.
“”Sometimes intentions are perceived on the account of the fact that they have wrong perception about a particular thing.
““I think it is in our place to ensure that we dig down the fact and ensure that people are given the fact and ensure that we don’t colour them with politics.’’
Twenty-three governors, four deputy governors, Service Chiefs, Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris, National Security Adviser, Babagana Mungonu and some cabinet ministers attended the meeting.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, Gov. Abiola Ajumobi of Oyo state said the meeting agreed to keep Nigeria united.
He said the governors also pledged to address problems causing unnecessary of agitations by Nigerians.
““It has been unanimously agreed that the unity of this country is sacrosanct, is non-negotiable and we have all agreed to work together to educate people.
““Anytime you have agitation, usually there will be poverty, there will be unemployment, there will be hardship, so we should address fundamentally these areas of poverty, unemployment and hardship.
“”Nigerians are by nature a united people, nobody cares whether you are from the north, south or the east.
““Unity must be there and we cannot play with the unity of this country. The consensus has been that there must be unity.
“”The message is for Nigerians to work more together and collaborate. We have more to gain when we are united. We cannot afford to break, and anybody who is thinking of that (he) is wasting his time and we will not allow it, not in this country. All of us are unanimous about that.”