By Bolaji Buhari
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday urged Nigerians to have strong belief in the unity of the country and live peacefully with one another.
Osinbajo made the call in Lagos while speaking at a book launch to celebrate the 80th birthday of a former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the book titled ”Battlelines: Adventures in Journalism and Politics” is a memoir by the former governor.
The Vice-President said unity was an essential ingredient of nation-building and greatness of the country.
He, however, expressed displeasure with the predilection of some unpatriotic citizens to use all sorts of tactics to undermine the unity of the country.
The Vice-President said some members of the political class had always played ethnic and religious cards to pit people against one another, thereby causing disaffection.
Osinbajo urged citizens to resist all divisive antics and tactics, adding that Nigerians should not fall for any agenda that could undermine unity.
He said claims that President Muhammadu Buhari was pursuing an agenda to Islamise the country was false and divisive.
Osinbajo said that the narrative in some quarters that the president was protecting killer herdsmen and Boko Haram members was a desperate ploy to promote ethnic and religious suspicion.
The Vice-President said Boko Haram once made attempts on the president’s life, and the incident, which occurred during one of his campaign visits, had betrayed the fact that the claims that he was protecting them were just to cause disunity.
He said the government was committed to the well-being of all Nigerians, and urged citizens to unite against all evils, including religious extremism.
Osinbajo said that Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and others were enemies of the nation, urging all citizens to join hands with the governor to root them out.
”The likes of Boko Haram, ISIS, Islamic State West Africa Province and many Salafist-Jihadist ideologies are expansionist ideologies that feed purely on hate, hatred of any person or group that does not belong to their particular sect.
”They have no redressible grievances so there are no terms of reference for peace. Fanatics committed to a twisted creed.
”They exploit the ignorance of the tenets of Islam, poverty and exclusion, recruit men and women and use children to perpetrate the most heinous atrocities.
They are motivated by a satanic desire to control communities by murder and terror.
”Whether it is in Iraq, Borno or Syria their victims are men, women and children, Muslim or Christians so long as they do not share their sick ideology, they target churches, mosques, markets and motor parks where people gather, using children as human bombs to kill randomly, regardless of tribe or faith.
”The challenge for us is to recognize this extremism for what it is. To form alliances across faiths and ethnicities to destroy an evil that confronts us all,” he said.
According to him, herder and farmer conflicts, random killings, banditry and kidnapping in different parts of the country are extant challenges that the army has had to intervene in on several occasions.
”I want to reassure all Nigerians that these issues are being seriously tackled by the Federal Government, working with the States, through a multi-pronged approach. Nobody will be allowed to maim, kill or commit other crimes and escape.
”It is our duty to apprehend and punish these criminals and we are doing and will continue to do so,” he said.
The Vice-President described Osoba as a patriotic Nigerian, saying he had made great impacts in journalism and politics.
Osinbajo said that one of the remarkable attributes of the former governor was his ”Pan-Nigerianism”, as he had been able to build bridges and make friends across all parts of the country.
The Vice-President congratulated him on his 80th birthday, saying he had no doubt that the former governor was still full of energy to contribute more to nation-building.
A former Head of State and Chairman of the occasion, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, also called for unity and peaceful coexistence of all citizens.
He described insecurity as a major issue in the country and urged the government to do its best to address the problem.
The former Head of State commended Osoba for writing the book, saying the piece would help shed light on his contributions to nation-building.
Abubakar said that he had known Osoba since the 60s and the former governor had always exhibited traits of greatness and love for the country.
”Osoba is a detribalised Nigerian who has done well both in politics and journalism,” he added.
The reviewer of the book, Mr Dapo Olorunyomi, said the book aptly captured the exploits and achievements of Osoba both as a journalist and a former governor .
Olorunyomi, Publisher of Premium Times, said the 341-page book employed the use of lucid expressions which were expected from an outstanding reporter like Osoba.
”The book showcases the great media manager that he was at Daily Times, The Daily Sketch and Herald and all he has done in politics,” he said.
Speaking, Osoba, flanked by wife, Derinsola, and children, said he decided to write the book to document his experiences both as a politician and journalist.
He said that he wrote the book to reveal what some people might not know about him.
The former governor thanked dignitaries who attended the book launch, saying he felt honoured by their presence.
”I particularly thank God to be alive after attempts to kill me by the military failed. I thank my friends for being part of my story and my family for the support,” he said.
NAN reports that Gov. Dapo Abiodun (Ogun); Gov.Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo); Gov.Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos); Gov.Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa) and Gov. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) were some of the dignitaries at the book launch.
Former governors, Donald Duke, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Obong Victor Attah and a former Rivers governor and minister, Mr Rotimi Amaechi were also present.
Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; a national leader of All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; and a renowned economist, Prof.Pat Utomi were some of the others present.(NAN)