Osinbajo Meets Ndigbo, Assures FG’s Resolve to Address Issues Effectively

Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, Wednesday met with Igbo leaders and told them not to panic over the quite notice given to Igbos living in the North to leave the areas before October 1, assuring that every arrangement has been made to protect all Nigerians in the country.
Osinbajo said that the federal government will defend the Nigerian constitution, adding that a meeting of all ethnic groups in the country will be held next week Thursday.
Osinbajo described war as a terrible thing, adding that while it is so easy to start, it is very difficult to end.
He said, “One thing is clear – violence and war are terrible things. They are easy to start but near impossible to end. Indeed you’re all aware of the Igbo proverb that says that “A man who rushes into battle does not realize that battle entails death.”
“Yesterday, I kicked off a series of consultations and engagements with Leaders of Thought from Northern Nigeria. It was a useful meeting. Today’s (Wednesday) meeting, the second in the series, is with you, Leaders of Thought from the South-East. “After this, I will meet with Religious and Traditional Leaders from the North and from the South-East, on Friday and Monday, respectively. And then, in the final consultation, next week Thursday, all of us, from North and South, will come together in the same room, for further engagement and consultation. I also plan at some time in between to meet with the Nigerian Governors Forum.
“These consultations are necessary and important because of recent events in the country. You are all aware that there have been loud and sometimes hostile agitations by youth in the South-East, calling for secession of the region from Nigeria. Then, there was the recent ultimatum issued by a group of youth from the North, asking all south-easterners living in the North to leave by October 1, this year.
“Both of these expressions and agitations from both sides, have been attended with some controversial and hateful vituperation including patently illegal and violence-inducing remarks.
“I firmly believe that we ought to address these agitations and proclamations urgently and decisively. Burying our heads in the sand and expecting the storm to blow over of their own accord is not an option.
“But equally not reasonable is falling for the temptation of tit-for-tat. It has never worked or moved us closer to a solution or resolution. “And so it is in our bid, as government, to deal with these pressing issues and grievances, that we have convened this series of consultations, with various groups. We will never shy away from the responsibility to ensure and uphold the peace and security of Nigeria. It is in my view the role and responsibility of those privileged in society to be leaders to chart a progressive and lofty course for the ordinary people.
“As leaders, we carry the burden to secure the peace, progress and prosperity of our people, and that is why our voices ought to be heard and heard loud and clear at moments like this in the defence and articulation of what is truly beneficial to the nation and the people, and what is right and patriotic.
“Our dear nation has gone through some really difficult times. We have survived bloody coups, several rounds of ethno-religious violence, and emerged from a long and bloody civil war. All of us here have seen close-up, what violence can do to a country, and I believe I speak for us all when I say that no one here is keen to see Nigeria embroiled in violence or bloodshed of any kind.
“Especially not when we are only just emerging from a brutal insurgency that has consumed more than 20,000 of our brothers and sisters and children, as well as the better part of a decade. “It is also clear that wars sometimes start, not with bullets, but with words. Hateful, incendiary speech, opening floodgates of blood. The tongue, like the pen, is often mightier than the sword – because it is what pushes the sword into action. When we throw words like stones in a marketplace we do not know who or what it will hit.
“Knowing this, under no conditions whatsoever should we tolerate or excuse or justify hate speech or hateful conduct of any kind, especially where such is illegal. Let me of course acknowledge that as part of living together in this space called Nigeria, misunderstandings and frustrations are inevitable. Because resources are limited there will always be a striving to get what is perceived as the best seat at the table.
“All of that is normal and to be expected, especially in a democracy, like ours. A healthy democracy ought to be a theatre of energetic striving by all parties and stakeholders. But things should never descend to a level where mutual suspicions override the desire to live together in peace and harmony”.
Among those who attended the meeting were prominent Igbo leaders, including the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, South East governors, leaders of Ohaneze.

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