Osinbajo blames Nigerian elites over Biafran agitation, ultimatum by Northern youths
Urges Military To Defend Nation’s Sovereignty
Acting President Yemi Osibanjo has blamed the nation’s elite of whipping up ethnic, religious and tribal sentiments to threaten the unity of Nigeria, saying that the Federal Government will use every resource available to defend the sovereignty of the country.
Osinbajo who was at the graduation ceremony of the Senior Course 39 of the Armed Forces and Command Staff College (AFCSC), said that the agitation for Biafra by Igbos and the counter quit notice by Northern youths were all rooted on the primordial ethnic and religious sentiment stirred up by the elites destabilizing the country. Besides, he urged the military to continue to live up to its responsibility by defending the sovereignty of the nation and democratic growth.
Frowning against the agitation for Biafra and the ultimatum against the Igbos in the north, he remarked,”The rumblings of secession, the dangerous quit ultimatums to ethnic groups, the radio stations and blogs that spew divisive speech and exploit our fault lines; all of these are now to be found online”.
“The last two decades in Nigeria have witnessed the quickened retreat of the Nigerian elite to their ethnic and religious camps. I would like to emphasize the fact that this was essentially an elite phenomenon, unity and disunity are promoted by the elite to which the vast majority of the Nigerian people were only later conscripted.
“A major drawback of ethnic chauvinism is the way that it is used to mask wrongdoing and promote impunity. Notice that when people are charged with looting public funds they quickly find a counter narrative. It is because I am Yoruba, Fulani or Igbo. Or the Muslims
are after me. Appointments in the public service are no longer even judged on merit. The question is how many are from my own ethnic group.
“In the past few weeks we have witnessed the escalation of agitations. Usually couched in deliberately intemperate, and provocative language, the reckless deployment of hate speech, and the loud expressions of prejudice and hate, name calling of those of other ethnicities and faiths is a new and destructive evil in our public discourse. But even more divisive words, expressions, and actions calculated to create fear and uncertainty have also been freely used.
“The problem with hate and divisive speech is that they tap into some of the basest human instincts, bringing up irrational suspicions, fear, anger, and hatred and ultimately mindless violence. People who have lived together as neighbours and friends suddenly begin to see each other as mortal enemies.”
He reminded Nigerians that, “while we must remain irrevocably committed to freedom of expression and the tenets of a free press, we must draw the line between freedom that conduces to healthy democracy and that which threatens and endangers the entire democratic enterprise.
“One of those lessons is that today’s wars never really end. This should be a sobering lesson to us all in Nigeria, as we contend with the forces that seek to stoke violence and bloodshed in our country. Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and closer home, the Central African Republic, Libya and the Democratic Republic of Congo; these wars have raged for years. Some of them have in fact gone on so long that they have been tagged as ‘forgotten wars’.”