Osinbajo faults ‘weaponisation’ of ethnic, religious bias for political purposes
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has urged Nigerians to do away with playing the cards of ethnic and religious prejudices for political purposes.
Osinbajo made this call while speaking on Monday at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru in Plateau State as he delivered a lecture entitled Creating a Homeland for All: Nation Building in a diverse democracy.
He also urged Nigerians to exploit the country’s socio-cultural diversity for national unity and peaceful co-existence especially with the nation going through post-election cases.
Osinbajo faulted the “weaponization” of ethnic and religious biases for political purposes, adding that democratic competition was defined by societal socio-cultural diversity.
He said leaders do not “have the luxury of toying with prejudice”, adding that they “have a duty to conduct themselves with a high sense of responsibility even as they prosecute the contest for power”.
The vice president noted that there is a need to assess the extent to which political actors comply with the peace accord they sign.
“One of the unsavory tendencies that was witnessed in this election cycle was the weaponization of ethnic, religious and sectional prejudices in ways that are damaging to social cohesion,” Osinbajo said.
“Any attempts to deny people the right to vote in any locality on the basis that they do not belong in that place is condemnable in the strongest possible terms.”
According to Osinbajo, Nigeria’s diversity is neither a liability nor a curse but a blessing and an asset.
“Social integration is one of the highest ideals of Nigeria’s constitution which guarantees citizens the right to traverse the length and breadth of this country without hindrance,” Osinbajo said.
“The constitution affirms the right of all Nigerians to not be discriminated against on the basis of their identity Above all, the constitution holds up integration as a priority.”
Osinbajo, who is a lawyer, further pointed out that the law was not created to fuel an apartheid system that distinguishes between natives and settlers but to create a civic nation.
“Is it possible to conquer ethnic or religious prejudices and build a unified nation? Yes it is, but it is a journey, not an event; and it is perhaps the most important issue in nation-building,” Osinbajo said.
“As humanity seeks to build a more durable, just and sustainable civilisation, our natural prejudices and allied irredentist urges have to be disciplined and sublimated in a mutuality rooted in our shared humanity.”
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