Following the recent ethnic tension all over Nigeria, Acting President Osinbajo, met with leaders from all over Nigeria to quell the tension and reach an agreement on peace. The meetings were convened to provide a platform for frank and open discussions between the concerned stakeholders on issues relating to the unity, peace and security of Nigeria.
The meetings touched on various issues relating to the ethnic agitations that have manifested most recently in a call for secession by some groups of youth from the Southeast, and an ultimatum by Northern youths for south-easterners living in the North to leave the region by 1st October 2017. Below are some agreements reached during the meeting:
1. Condemned all the hateful and divisive rhetoric by the concerned groups of Northern and Southeastern youths.
2. Affirmed the primacy of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the ultimate basis for the unity of Nigeria. That Constitution guarantees freedom of residence and of movement for all Nigerians anywhere in the country, without fear of discrimination or prejudice.
3. Affirmed the need to draw a line between the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution and the degeneration of expression into hateful rhetoric, prejudice and hatred. Under no circumstances will Government condone or tolerate hate speech in any way or form.
4. Affirmed the necessity of confronting all grievances and frustrations head-on, however uncomfortable that might be in the short-term; instead of ignoring issues and allowing them to fester.
5. Affirmed the need for all leaders and elders, regardless of political or ideological persuasion, to speak out more forcefully to counter divisive and hate speech and warmongering.
The Acting President also said in conclusion: “There is a point where a line has to be drawn, and that is when conversations or agitations degenerate into hateful rhetoric, where the narrative descends into pejorative name-calling, expressions of outright prejudice and hatred.
“Let me say that we are not deaf to the legitimate concerns and frustrations arising from around the country. Every part of Nigeria has its own grievances. But these have to be expressed graciously and managed with mutuality rather than with scorn and disdain.
“All of us have agreed that our nation must remain one… I think that there is clarity as to that one thing, that our country ought to remain, must remain, a united country.”
Meanwhile, The South-East leadership of cattle breeders under the aegis of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) has lashed out at Arewa youths for asking Igbos in the north to vacate. The youths stirred public outrage when they gave Igbos in the north three months to vacate leave.