Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the unity of Nigeria must not just be a slogan, it must be anchored on ensuring justice, equity and fairness for all segments of society.
Osinbajo made the point today while delivering the Convocation Lecture of the Sokoto State University.
He charged the Nigerian elite to embark on the hard work of ensuring the underpinning variables.
The Vice President who was received at the airport by Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, also paid a courtesy call on the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar.
The Sultan welcomed him noting that he knew the VP “is here because he loves what he is doing for the development of the country.”
Emphasizing the roles that leaders must play to engender unity, the Vice President in his lecture titled Nigeria: Some Defining Issues for the Future noted that “we must not overlook any fears or allegations of marginalization or discrimination on account of religion or ethnicity.
“Political, especially ethnic leaders, and religious leaders must do the difficult work of educating their publics about the need to live together. It is the elites, leaders that will do the onerous job of ensuring unity in our communities.”
According to Prof. Osinbajo, “unity is not just a slogan or even merely a good idea. It has manifest expression in our communities where Nigerians from diverse backgrounds are commingling, trading, partnering, inter-marrying and blending in various ways.
“We live in a complex web of multi-layered social, cultural, economic and political synergies playing out in every sector of our individual and national lives. Despite the scale of the challenges facing us, unravelling this web of commonality as proposed by enthusiasts of disintegration is a cure that is worse than the disease.
“This is why we must understand that even though managing diversity can be politically and administratively onerous, diversity itself is an economic strength and harnessing it properly is hugely rewarding.”
The Vice President further stated that if properly harnessed, a country’s diversity could ensure lasting prosperity for all.
“It is a matter of interest that the most prosperous economies in the world are typically diverse places. Because the true wealth of nations in the 21st century is human capital, societies that set out to attract and retain the most diverse pool of skilled human resources are ordained to prevail in the race for prosperity.
“With diversity comes a broad range of cultural, philosophical and intellectual approaches for solving problems. Innovation can only flourish in this kind of setting. This is why we must understand that even though managing diversity can be politically and administratively onerous, diversity itself is an economic strength and harnessing it properly is hugely rewarding.
Speaking against the call for Nigeria’s disintegration, the Vice President called citizens to consider the importance of national unity, stressing that the country “is more than a sum of its many parts and its diversity – ethnic diversity, cultural diversity, religious diversity – is a value-add for our nation. Difference should not mean division”.
On the way forward, Prof. Osinbajo noted that “it is essential for us to establish a culture of tolerance, open-mindedness and acceptance of people of all cultures and creeds. There is unity to be found even in the face of such differences.”
“There is a Nigerianness that binds us all, there is a shared commitment – no matter how suppressed – to build a better Nigeria for ourselves and future generations. It is who we are, it is in our very beings, that love of country, that aspiration to do better.”