Acting President Yemi Osinbajo during the week and the preceding week found it necessary to apply a soothing balm on the frayed and disjointed nerves in the Nigerian polity. It is difficult for anyone living in the country and even abroad to feign ignorance over the hate speeches emanating from different quarters in the polity.
However, it appears the acting President decided to take the bull by the horn with the recent threat and ultimatum issued by a coalition of Northern youths, and reechoed by some elders on South Easterners residing in the North to start relocating to their region. The ultimatum was in reaction to the sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra, which was observed across the South East region.
That singular ultimatum alarmed the entire nation because it portends signs of grave danger for the peace and unity of Nigeria.
Consequently, the decision of Acting President Osinbajo to summon meetings of the 36 state governors, stakeholders, traditional leaders and leaders of thought from across the two belligerent groups is a welcome development.
This engagement could not have come at a better time than now when the country appears to be heading towards a conflagration on account of the hate speeches being spewed out on different social media platforms. There is no doubt that the consequences of condoning such hate speeches in a fragmented union like ours will be dire and destructive hence the need to nip it in the bud.
For all lovers of peace and patriots, the involvement of the Acting President in finding solutions to the problem affords them an opportunity to ventilate their concerns, and join in the search for enduring and sustainable peace in the land.
As a country governed by laws and under the leadership of duly constituted authorities such as the Presidency, National Assembly and the Judiciary, all aggrieved parties have an avenue to seek redress. In our quest to build a nation, peace, unity and understanding are necessary and indeed a prerequisite, and leaders from all sides have a duty to constantly toe the path.
Perhaps, all aggrieved parties can seek solace in the reassurance by the Acting President that the interest of all Nigerians will be catered for in a united Nigeria. The point needs to be restated that the agitations for restructuring in the polity offers an opportunity to make Nigeria a nation where all citizens will feel a sense of belonging, and equity and justice prevail.
From all indications, the federal government is not averse to the demands for restructuring, but given the challenges the Buhari administration inherited on May 29 2015, it chose to prioritize its policies in order to stabilize the polity. For example, the country was confronted with insecurity, abysmal corruption and collapsed infrastructure.
Government owes it a duty to ensure that its actions or inactions are meant to promote unity and peace in the country. Similarly, the divisive tendencies of ethnic pundits ought to be curtailed and cannot be allowed to deteriorate to an uncontrollable level.
Government also has a duty to protect lives and properties of its citizens, and in the light of Acting President Osinbajo’s intervention in the simmering crises, Nigerians are relieved that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Furthermore, for the government to find a lasting solution to the agitations and counter actions in the polity, there is the need for a deep introspection. Such approach will lead to a finding an enduring and sustainable solution.
In the same vein, both the Southeast leaders and their Northern counterparts are enjoined to adhere strictly to the terms of engagement to enable the country full benefit from the progressive policies of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
All over the world, dialogue, rather than war has been used to resolve knotty issues and Nigeria cannot be different. It was the former British Prime minister, Winston Churchill who posited that to “jaw jaw is better than war war”. What this implies within this context is that constructive engagement is pivotal to resolving lingering national problems.
The proactive move by the Acting President to engage the South East and Northern elders has expectedly doused the tension that was generated by the vituperations of the respective region’s youth groups. Hate speeches or provocative comments serve as catalysts for political conflagration that may have unintended consequences. The backlash also has the potential to engulf all parts of the country.
At this period in our nation’s history it is expected that all hands should be on deck, and Nigerians from all walks of life have a duty to promote peace and love. By doing so the country will be well-positioned to realise its development objectives.
As we crave for political and economic development, it is important that we allow peace to reign by avoiding those actions that are likely to militate against the stability and cohesion of the country.
Additionally, if we consider the fact that any conflagration will discourage foreign direct investments and thereby impact negatively on the economy, then we must apply wisdom in solving Nigeria’s teething problems. It must also be noted that all countries are confronted by different developmental challenges and Nigeria cannot be an exception. What is required is the ability of leaders to build cohesive societies where all citizens will feel a sense of belonging. It is heartwarming that the President Buhari administration has led the way in this regard.
. Enekwechi, journalist and politician, writes from Abuja and can be reached via [email protected]