Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Acting President Osinbajo asks media leaders to deal with cancer of hate speech

OFFICE OF THE ACTING PRESIDENT

PRESS RELEASE

OSINBAJO PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR IPI 2018 IN ABUJA   

Acting President of Nigeria, Oluyemi Osinbajo

In line with its commitment to promote private sector partnership, the Buhari administration will partner the Nigerian chapter of the International Press Institute (IPI) to host a hitch-free 2018 World Congress of the Global Network of Free Media, according to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Prof. Osinbajo gave the assurance when the board of the Nigerian chapter of the International Press Institute (IPI), paid him a courtesy visit at the Presidential Villa earlier today to intimate him on plans for the forthcoming event scheduled for Abuja in June 2018.

According to the Acting President, ``It is a very important opportunity for Nigeria to showcase ourselves and also to show that Nigeria is safe and secure for business. It is also an opportunity to advertise all of our ease of doing business initiatives.’’

The Acting President also assured the visiting IPI board that states could participate in the hosting of the event especially as it provides ``an important opportunity for tourism and for them to showcase some of the great initiatives that they have.’’

He urged the local organising committee to consider putting on the agenda of the event, the issue of hate speech and its implications for our polity and for peace and security.
According to him, ``the forum is an important one for raising the question of hate speech and its implications for our country, for our polity and for peace and security.’’

He added: ``somehow these things are resonating all over the world, new found nationalism and all of that. But I think for us here in Nigeria, it is a very important issue.

``I think that it is important that we find ways of controlling these things. I think that we owe a responsibility, especially leaders of journalism, to find ways of dealing with this issue because it is a cancer.’’     

Earlier, the leader of the delegation and chairman of Thisday newspaper, Chief Nduka Obaigbena solicited the support the Federal Government in the hosting of the event in different areas including, the provision of a secured and safe environment for delegates, visas on arrival amongst others.
Obiagbena stated that the issue of hate speech will indeed form one of the thematic issues to be discussed during the IPI congress.

He thanked the Acting President for the pledge to support IPI Nigeria in the hosting a hitch-free congress.  

The Acting President later thanked the delegation for the visit and for their efforts in ensuring that Nigeria was given the opportunity to host the IPI World congress. 

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity to the President
Office of the Vice President
16th August 2017

"Your appointment, on a state by state basis is on merit." ~ Acting President Osinbajo

OFFICE OF THE ACTING PRESIDENT

PRESS RELEASE
WE ARE AT THE CUSP OF A RADICAL ECONOMIC GROWTH, SAYS ACTING PRESIDENT OSINBAJO


REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, ACTING PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE SWEARING-IN CEREMONY OF NEWLY APPOINTED FEDERAL PERMANENT SECRETARIES, AT THE STATE HOUSE COUNCIL CHAMBERS ON WEDNESDAY AUGUST 16, 2017.

PROTOCOLS
May I congratulate you on your appointments as Federal Permanent Secretaries and may I also extend the warm felicitations of the President, Commander-In-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari to you on this very auspicious occasion.

You are here today after a rigorous selection process undertaken by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation and her team of retired Heads of Service, Permanent Secretaries, seasoned technocrats and members of the organized private sector.

In other words your appointment, on a state by state basis is on merit, and you are here today being presented to this nation as the best that our civil service can offer.

You come into office at a crucial moment in our national history. First we are at the cusp of a radical economic recovery and growth effort that has as its core the implementation of a comprehensive diversification of the Nigerian economy.

We are also implementing a major reform of our public finance system, emphasizing integrity and fiscal prudence. These reforms are being effected in the context of our determined anti-corruption programme and these efforts cannot succeed without a competent and committed civil service corps led by your good selves.

As part of that reform effort four executive orders have been signed and I will just quickly summarise them.

Executive Order 001 is on the promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment - to ensure that public servants offer prompt service in a predictable and transparent manner, and sanction undue delays.
Executive Order 002 is on prompt submission of annual budgetary estimates by all statutory and non-statutory agencies of the Federal Government including incorporated companies wholly owned by FG. The deadline for this is on or before end of July.

Executive Order 003 on support for local content in public procurement by Ministries, Departments & Agencies of the Federal Government to promote patronage for Made-in-Nigeria goods and services.

Executive Order 004 is on the Voluntary Assets & Income Declaration Scheme to provide an opportunity for taxpayers who are in default under all relevant statutes to voluntarily declare their assets and income and pay taxes on them while avoiding payments of interests and penalties.

These Executive Orders and several other government directives are meant to ensure that the reform programme of the Federal Government succeeds. Your role in it cannot be overemphasized.

Your role is not just in providing direction, and providing leadership but also in the training of the core of the civil service that is under your care and charge. We expect that Permanent Secretaries will be the drivers of the implementation of the Executive Orders. And this is why a training programme has been undertaken in order to do so and it is a continuous programme of training. 

Your coming into office at this particular time is a good signal and I believe very strongly that it will be an opportunity for a reset in some cases of projects and programmes that up till now may not have been fully completed. 

It is also important to emphasise that this government is committed to an anti-corruption programme. It is easy to speak about corruption and to speak about anti-corruption programmes. But we want to emphasize that we do not believe that any nation can survive at the levels of corruption that we have witnessed in our country in the past years.

It is completely impossible to implement government policies or programmes or to ensure that the benefits of economic programmes, the benefits even of democracy, ever reach the ordinary man if corruption remains at the levels that it has been in the previous years.

This is why our commitment to corruption is not just a glib reference, it is not just glib talk; it is important, it is crucial, as a matter of fact, as the President has said - “if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us”. It is your responsibility as Federal Permanent Secretaries especially this new corps of Federal Permanent Secretaries, chosen and selected on merit to ensure that you carry out in the fullest measure all of the anti-corruption programmes of this government, and to ensure also that by your practice and in your conduct you are also above board.  

Before I go on to announce the postings of the Federal Permanent Secretaries, let me again emphasise that the process of the appointment of Permanent Secretaries is one that was conducted in the fairest possible way and I hope that this is the way that we will continue to conduct these processes by rigorous process of examination and test that will bring up the very best that this country can offer. I want to again congratulate you and congratulate members of your families for this great attainment and I hope and pray that your tenure will be extremely successful.

We also have with us in the cabinet two ministers who were sworn-in a couple of weeks ago and I have the pleasure to announce that the two ministers will be posted to two critical ministries which require their expertise.

Prof. Steven Ocheni will be assigned the portfolio of Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, and Mr Suleiman Hassan will be assigned the Portfolio of the Minister of State for Power, Works and Housing.     
  
The posting of the Permanent Secretaries are;
  1. Mrs. Anagbogu Ifeoma Nkiruka, Women Affairs
  2. Mrs. Walson-Jack Didi Esther, Service Welfare Office in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation
  3. Gekpe Grace Isu, Information and Culture
  4. Aliboh Leon Lawrence, Budget and National Planning
  5. Uwaifo Osarenoma Clement, Ministry of Health
  6. Afolayan Ayodele Olaniyi, Common Services, Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation
  7. Abdullahi Abdulazeez Mashi, Ministry of Communications
  8. Adebiyi Bolaji Adekunle, Labour and Employment
  9. Ibrahim Musa Wen, Water Resources
  10. Odewale Samson Olajide, Special Duties, Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation
  11. Adesola Olusade, Youth and Sports Development
  12. Umar Mohammed Bello, Special Services Office, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation
  13. Aduda Gabriel Tanimu, Politcal Affairs Office, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation
  14. Akpan Edet Sunday is to resume duty in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment on October 1. 
  15. Ehuria Georgina Ekeoma, Cabinet Affairs Office, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

Released by

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
16th August, 2017

Saturday, August 12, 2017

OZUBULU ATTACK: AG PRESIDENT OSINBAJO SENDS DELEGATION TO CONDOLE WITH GOVERNMENT AND PEOPLE OF ANAMBRA

OFFICE OF THE ACTING PRESIDENT

PRESS RELEASE

OZUBULU ATTACK: AG PRESIDENT OSINBAJO SENDS DELEGATION TO CONDOLE WITH GOVERNMENT AND PEOPLE OF ANAMBRA STATE

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, is sending a five-man Federal Government delegation to Anambra State today to visit and condole with the government and people of the state over last Sunday’s attack on worshippers at the St. Philips Catholic Church in Ofufe-Amakwa, Ozubulu, Ekwusigo Local Government Area of the State. That despicable attack resulted in the loss of a number of lives and injury to several others.

The delegation is made up of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige; Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole; Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of State for Environment, Mallam Ibrahim Usman Jibril; and the Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Anwuka.

During the visit, the delegation will present a condolence letter from the Acting President Osinbajo on behalf of the government and people of Nigeria to Governor Willie Obiano. The delegation will also visit Bishop Hilary Okeke of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, and the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital also in Nnewi to meet with some of the victims of the attack still in the hospital.

In the letter, Professor Osinbajo extends deep commiserations to the families, friends of the victims, and the Ozubulu community on the death of their sons and daughters, praying for the speedy recovery of the injured still in the hospital.

The Acting President condemned in very strong terms the atrocious and dastardly act which has brought sorrow to many innocent families and, has rightly provoked widespread condemnation.

He said “such barbaric act constitutes an affront to our common humanity, and it challenges, but will not overwhelm our collective resolve to rid our communities of all forms of violent crimes and criminality.”

Professor Osinbajo said the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari remains undeterred and will continually commit to deploying all available resources towards ensuring adequate security of lives and property in Anambra State and across the entire country.

The Acting President noted that he has instructed law enforcement agencies to bring perpetrators of the heinous crime to justice without any delay.

He said he would remain engaged with Governor Obiano, the Police authorities and other security agencies to ensure that the lives and property of citizens of Anambra State and indeed all Nigerians are well protected anywhere they may live.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant on Media & Publicity to the President
Office of the Acting President
12 August 2017

Thursday, August 10, 2017

TRANSCRIPT OF THE ANTI-IGBO SONG CALLING FOR GENOCIDE AGAINST NDI IGBO IN THE NORTH.

First I want to appeal to Almighty Allah to help me in this song not to deviate, these useless children of thieves and unemployed. Igbos in Nigeria have no sun.

Chorus:
Igbos (Inyamirin) are ungrateful people and fools
Igbos are a curse to Nigeria, whose existence and birth as a people in Nigeria is useless, that abortion is greater than the birth of the bastards.

Let’s drag and drag and see who will sleep in the sun,
Igbo land, in the beginning, has no name, they were helped to get name and identity. And that’s the beginning of their trouble.

Chorus:
Igbos (Inyamirin) are ungrateful people and fools
Igbos are a curse to Nigeria, whose existence and birth as a people in Nigeria is useless, that abortion is greater than the birth of the bastards.

Please let’s ask, who is an Igbo, it’s Igbo that suffered and said he needs water and that’s how we started calling them Inyamuri.

Chorus:
Igbos are a curse to Nigeria, whose existence and birth as a people in Nigeria is useless, that abortion is greater than the birth of the bastards.

Igbos are a curse to Nigeria, whose existence and birth as a people in Nigeria is useless, that abortion is greater than the birth of the bastards.

Igbos who are doing rubbish work, they tried us in the past but couldn’t succeed. Your leader who led the rebellion told you to repent and don’t venture into fruitless war.

Chorus:
Igbos are a curse to Nigeria, whose existence and birth as a people in Nigeria is useless, that abortion is greater than the birth of the bastards.
A child doesn’t know fire until he marches on it and realizes, you will not be able to quench this fire you ignited. Stupid and shameless boy if you fit we are waiting. Let the country be divided and let’s see who will cry.

Chorus:
Igbos are a curse to Nigeria, whose existence and birth as a people in Nigeria is useless, that abortion is greater than the birth of the bastards.
We knew they have nothing since their origin, it was with the money of the north, that oil was explored and found. We are farming and grazing with our cattle and knew they have nothing.

Chorus:
Igbos are a curse to Nigeria, whose existence and birth as a people in Nigeria is useless, that abortion is greater than the birth of the bastards.

We northerners farm beans and they have nothing, we farm rice and they have nothing, they neither farm potatoes nor cocoa yam. They don’t have wheat, pepper, no grains and nothing. No onions and groundnuts, we eat surplus and gave southerners food. Let the country be divided, let the country be divided, we northerners are saying let the country split.

You said you don’t want us, we too we don’t want you anymore. This is our land and not someone father’s land, brothers and sisters. We have all it takes.
Igbos are the ones that ruined this country, we all know that they are the ones disguising as Fulani killing people and committing armed robbery, they are the ones blocking roads and also disguising as Boko Haram killing people without shame.

They are the ones destroying our youths and children with drugs, let the country be divided because Igbos have no any day.
They did not support our President but rigged him out. Only Yorubas supported and collaborated with us. Hausa and Fulani too collaborated but Igbos refused and we don’t want them anymore.
They inherited nothing but useless things from their origin, they did so many atrocities in the past. They killed Sardauna, Sir Ahmadu Bello our hero, they did same with Sir Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa.

Chorus:
Igbos are a curse to Nigeria, whose existence and birth as a people in Nigeria is useless, that abortion is greater than the birth of the bastards.

Audio record available on request.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Efunsetan Aniwura and other Evans stories by Lasisi Olagunju


 “The first operation I went with the gang was at Uguruta Junction on the Port-Harcourt International Airport Road. We attacked some vehicles conveying a huge sum of money in foreign currency. We killed all the policemen escorting them including a man the police identified as the Regional Manager of the bank where the money came from. After that operation, I was given N3 million as my share…” The person who made that statement was a man nicknamed White Witch, who had participated in 15 bank and bullion van robberies and made millions. His ambition was to retire from robbery into politics. And he almost realised that ambition but for nemesis. He was arrested around this time last year shortly before his swearing in as a cabinet member by a state governor: “Two weeks before my arrest, I was shortlisted as a Special Adviser to the Governor, and we were waiting for him to return from his trip abroad so that he would swear us into our various offices. I did not know that the police had got to know about my activities.” If he had not been bursted, one day, he probably would have become the governor of his state, appointing his gang members as commissioners.

 
I wonder how many White Witches and how many of the now very popular kidnap don, Evans, we willingly elect every four years into our lives. A former senator who is a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police once declared that the National Assembly was a tank of confirmed criminals. He got elected into the Senate, looked around and the faces he saw were those of his former suspects in violent crimes. He famously declared that there were armed robbers in the chambers. Shocked Nigerians, as usual, gasped but moved on to the next drama. That was in the legislature. Among the more audacious executive, how many felons do you think could have been laundered into Government Houses? Some people are heirs to the throne of Satan but society celebrates and venerates them. Some have come and gone with crowns of life leadership on their heads. At their exit from power, they keep the chain unbroken, handing over to their gang members. The results have been reigning dynasties of criminals. Imagine if Evans, the doyen of kidnapping business in Nigeria, had contested the last elections, he would have won and would have escaped into real heroism, especially if he built dubious bridges and distributed cash and rice to all who caught his fancy. His 40th birthday would have been marked with lectures delivered by the brightest professors around with a honorary doctoral degree as the icing on the cake.

And getting into government would not have prevented the felon from continuing his bloody business. Indeed, it would have enhanced and sustained it. He could kidnap anyone, including his Accountant General and then collect ransom from his state. A whole month’s statutory allocation may go into that. No EFCC would harass him for paying it out. It is a humanitarian gesture. As a governor, he would have immunity from suspicions, from investigations and from prosecution. He would have deeper insights into how to restructure his business for greater efficiency. He wouldn’t have issues on how to hide the billions from the ransoms. As a governor, he would have several options. He could own a bank or banks, give loans and kidnap the loanee. He could own and license a bureau de change to legally handle his dollars and convert his government naira to euro and pound sterling. He could  even start selling dollars back to his victims who may need to pay ransom in hard currency. That is one very viable option. Governors do it with government funds. Or who do you think own many of these dollar-dealing companies around? Put a trusted ally in charge of the bureau and you win all the time. He could also build and stock a one-in-town shopping mall. Install a trusted soul in charge of the business and all dirty cash can then daily go in there, bear the stamp of that legit business and move into banks.

But because Evans lacked wisdom to diversify into government and politics, he is now begging for mercy. What mercy again? One victim paid you a ransom of N100 million and was still not released. Another was coldly told to hold a thanksgiving service for surviving a gunshot. You, the source of his affliction, assured him you would attend the event. After reading the several accounts of the victims, are we wrong to be surprised that the kingpin seeks pardon? At least that is what we have been reading in the last couple of days. It has been either he is burying his head in the Books of Job and Lamentations or he is weeping, seeking a second chance or the wife is pleading for pardon. Evans won’t be the first iron to melt after arrest. There was a very notorious armed robber in the mid 80s who almost became a legend. He would rob, throw some of his stolen funds at the people and vanish. He was invincible and enigmatic. His name sent shivers down the spines of even the best of security operatives. At a point, the then president, Ibrahim Babangida, had to publicly ask his Inspector General of Police: “My friend, where is Aninih?” Eventually, he was bursted and caught. He turned out to be a cowardly felon, fearful of death, begging for mercy. Why won’t these fellows think about the consequences of their actions? Or did they just assume that they wouldn’t ever get caught? Or they did not know that the wages of sin is damnation?

You can be evil for a very long time. Sometimes what nails the vampire may not even be the bloodiest of his actions. When the time is up, something just gives way. And it is because justice does not just stalk the evil doer, it catches up with him. Efunsetan Aniwura was the very rich 19th century Iyalode of Ibadan who was deposed on May 1, 1874. She was not exactly a criminal but she was wicked and lacking in mercy for her slaves. There is a play about her life written by Professor Akinwumi Ishola. There is a film too adapted from that book by Ishola Ogunsola (I-Show Pepper). In the book and the film, she is the totality of what a blood thirsty witch does to foul the community. She had to die because she was evil. That is her eternal reputation promoted actively through popular drama. The image of evil associated with her stuck like the leopard’s spots. Every wicked woman next door is an Efunsetan. But recorded history says she was killed not because she killed her pregnant slaves. She really did that routinely and society looked away. History says she had to die because she had become too big for her king to handle. Someone can be rich. Someone can become a chief and a person of means and power. But when riches increase and powers multiply, and the head swells and someone wears the babanriga of impunity, the end moves near. Even if you are the sovereign, the eyes of justice will soon be on you. The charges against Efunsetan were: That she didn’t accompany her sovereign, Aare Latoosa to that year’s war against Ado Ekiti; that she didn’t send supplies to her lord during the war; and, that she did not come in person to meet the Aare outside the town wall to congratulate him on the successful campaign. Those were the recorded reasons for her death now lost in the maze of perception across centuries. And what was the reaction of the rich, tough woman to the dawn of justice? She pleaded and pleaded for mercy and pardon. She paid out most of her riches to escape death. She was sober. Samuel Johnson said of her last moments: “The Iyalode spent miserable days and nights suspicious of every sound and movement. She changed her sleeping place from night to night as she could not trust any of her domestics. She prepared her food herself, could not go out of doors, received no visitors, as she did not know from what quarter the fatal blow would fall. At length, on the night of June 30, 1874, knowing where she slept, two slaves entered the room from the ceiling and dashed out her brains.” Her pleas, her riches, her safety measures could not save her. Nemesis always trumps such measures.

So, we plead with the Evanses and White Witches in our Government Houses to reduce the monthly ransoms they collect from us. We ask them for freedom for the kidnapped salaries and pensions. We urge them to remember that, like the Evans of Magodo, Lagos, their surveillance cameras will one day fail them; that an Abba Kyari will one day break their front doors; and that on that day, even though they read the Psalms, the Lord would not be their Shepherd.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Osinbajo yet to be truly tested - Idowu Akinlotan

FOR the unspecified period Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will hold the fort for the ailing President Muhammadu Buhari, he will walk a tightrope in the most gingerly and exasperating fashion possible. The president left many knots entangled before travelling abroad for medical attention; there is very little Professor Osinbajo can do to disentangle them. The president didn’t assemble the most inspiring of cabinets, especially his fairly insular kitchen cabinet; the vice president can do nothing about that.

No matter how much he pretends, it will gall the vice president to have to embrace the status quo with smiles for the duration of the president’s uncertain absence. He will see and feel how urgently he needs to take action concerning deep and fundamental problems assailing the country, but he will be constrained by the straitjacket bequeathed him by the president.

When he first acted for the president last year, Prof Osinbajo dazzled the country with his placatory visits to areas of discontent. For a country on tenterhooks before the president travelled, it warmed the cockles of the people’s hearts that the acting president spoke peace and helped establish peace. But beyond superficialities, Prof Osinbajo was unable to do much else.

Even the little he accomplished in tinkering with the system drew the ire of vested interests and caused tremors to pulsate through the ranks of the president’s diehard aides. It took some special efforts to douse the enthusiastic comparisons — some of them sarcastic, and others quite morbid — which commentators launched into before the president made an abrupt and premature return to the country. It is therefore not surprising that this time around, the vice president has been more muted and more philosophical about the country’s many ills.

Should the president stay away for much longer than seems logically and constitutionally tolerable, Prof Osinbajo will face real and far more troubling tests that will compel him to deploy and project powers the president’s aides may be unwilling to yield. On the surface, there will of course be no attempt to circumscribe the acting president’s powers, whether in acting or in substantive capacity.

But behind the presidential villa’s oak doors, President Buhari and his formal and informal kitchen cabinets have structured the reins of power in such a manner that any other person, no matter how constitutionally empowered, is an outsider.

One of those fiery tests is already manifesting. The separatist ferment poisoning interethnic and interreligious relationships in the country was of course evident even before the president took gravely ill. His style of tackling it was to dismiss it contemptuously with both a wave of the hand and the platitudinous talk about the unity of Nigeria being non-negotiable.

Prof Osinbajo himself, perhaps more out of caution and dread than conviction, has parroted that impractical and futile line. Whether his fond wish for Nigerian unity will prove strong enough to resolve a problem that is seething and festering beyond any remedy can assuage remains to be seen. And whether that wish and the various meetings he scheduled with stakeholders can translate into something more positive in the face of the bellicose utterances of separatist campaigners is also uncertain.

Nigeria is perching dangerously on the edge of a cliff. The deep fissures in the country require the intervention and innovation of a president enjoying and deploying his full powers and exuding such knowledge and brilliance that it is impossible for anyone to gainsay. Not only was President Buhari almost wholly without such amenities, even as he preferred to live in denial, the acting president is obviously unable to project such powers, assuming he has them, not to say deploy them.

What is certain is that one day, the separatist clamour, herdsmen rampage, and other dangerous fuses could trigger a wider revolt. With the president unable to anticipate these troubles and thus prepare against them, and the acting president barred by circumstances and strictures from dealing with them proactively, it will be difficult to put out the fire when it is finally lit.

Presidential aides, the kitchen cabinet, and the vice president’s men may deny it all they want, it is however unlikely that Prof Osinbajo can do more than just breath salubrious air in the rarefied and forested precincts of the villa, placate angry groups as best as he can on an ad hoc basis, paper over the social, religious and political cracks gnawing at the heart of the country, tiptoe around the controversial issues of regional and ethnic power dynamics, and moralise in general but ineffective terms about the virtues of nation-building.

He cannot appoint anyone of substance into any high position, and cannot on his own sack anyone of substance, as indicated by the unlawful violation of the PenCom Act which he permitted. The president’s kitchen cabinet, divided even in the best of times, will continue to hold the fort, even as the acting president gives the impression of being in office and in power. Indeed, there is nothing the acting president can do about the dichotomised power structure that is evident in Aso Villa. It is the structure he met; and it is a structure he cannot change.

If Prof Osinbajo faces a test bigger and more severe than he has faced so far, he will have to resolve, one way or the other, the conundrums stymieing the progress of the country, especially the change the All Progressives Congress (APC) promised without a clue regarding how to implement or energise it.

There is nothing to suggest that with the president staying away for much longer than a few more months, the genial and eloquent but apparently apolitical professor will not finally confront the dilemma of being in office but not in power, surrounded by general and kitchen cabinet misfits, and shackled by parochial forces who view the country and its security structures through ethnic and religious prisms. Would to God the auguries were less alarming than they really are.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

WHY WE CAN’T TOLERATE DIVISIVE SPEECH AND BEHAVIOUR, BY ACTING PRESIDENT

OFFICE OF THE ACTING PRESIDENT

PRESS RELEASE

*Urges leaders to speak out loud and clear at moments like this

TEXT OF OPENING REMARKS MADE BY THE ACTING PRESIDENT YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, AT HIS MEETING WITH LEADERS OF THOUGHT FROM THE SOUTHEASTERN STATES HELD AT THE OLD BANQUET HALL, STATE HOUSE, ABUJA ON WEDNESDAY JUNE 14, 2017 

“The reason why it cannot be tolerated is that the very many innocent men, women, children and the vulnerable amongst us deserve safety and security and our own emotions must not be allowed to run wild in such a way as to endanger the lives of so many”.

Protocol

Let me first say how deeply grateful I am that you have responded so well and so quickly at very very short notice to this invitation.

Yesterday I kicked off a series of consultations and engagements with Leaders of Thought from the Northern States of Nigeria. It was a very useful meeting and today’s meeting is the second in the series with you, the Leaders of Thought from the Southeast. 

After this, I will meet with Religious and Traditional Leaders again from the Southeast and on Monday I will be meeting with Religious Leaders also from the North. And then in the final consultations next week, I will be meeting both with state Governors and finally with all of the groups that I have met with from the North, the South and we’ll be joined I hope then, by the Governors also and we all hopefully be in the same room for further engagement and consultations.

I want to say again a very very big thank you for your making the time to come to this particular meeting.

These consultations are extremely necessary, and important, especially because of the recent events in our country and I’m sure that most of us have followed this quite closely. 

You are all aware that there have been loud and sometimes hostile agitations by young people in the Southeast calling for secession from Nigeria. And then there was the recent ultimatum issued by a group of young people also from the North, asking all persons of Southeast origin 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 very hateful approach 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 for any kind of tit-for-tat whether it is in the language used or it is in the kinds of gestures that have been expressed. This has never worked or moved anyone closer to a peaceful or sensible resolution.

And so it’s in our bid, as government, to deal with these pressing issues and grievances, that we’ve convened these series of consultations, with various groups. It’s the right and responsible thing I think for us as leaders not to shy away from the responsibility to ensure and uphold peace and security in our country.

And it’s my view that the responsible role of those of us who are privileged to be leaders in our society is to chart progressive and lofty courses for our people, 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 defense 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 very m any difficult times. We’ve survived bloody coups, several rounds of ethno-religious violence, we’ve emerged even from a long and bloody Civil War. All of us here have seen close-up what violence can do to a country. 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, sisters and children, as well as the better part of a decade in the Northeast of Nigeria.  

One thing is clear – violence and war are not going to do anyone any good. They are terrible and they mean no good. They are easy to start but near impossible to end. 

In fact, history has shown us especially contemporary history that wars today hardly ever end. They just simply go on. Indeed, you’re all aware of the Igbo proverb that says that “aman who rushes into battle does not realize that battle entails death.” We are witnesses to the unspeakable devastation that war continues to inflict across the world. No one who has seen the horrors of war – even merely on television – would wish it on their worst enemy.

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.

Yesterday I made it clear, very clear that hate or divisive speech, or divisive behaviour, where it is illegal, will be met with the full force of the law. And I want to say it again today that let there be no doubt whatsoever of the resolve of government to ensure that no one will be allowed to get away with making speeches that can cause division especially violence. We will take very seriously any attempts to cause violence or to disrupt the peace of Nigeria and it will certainly not be tolerated.

And the reason why it cannot be tolerated is that the very many innocent men, women, children and the vulnerable amongst us deserves safety and security and our own emotions must not be allowed to run wild in such a way as to endanger the lives of so many. And I believe that all are clear that we’re resolute in our determination as government to protect every Nigerian, everywhere in the country. Everywhere in this country, it is the primary duty of government to ensure the security of lives and property and we take that duty very seriously indeed.

We will do everything within our power to defend and uphold the terms of our constitution, which declares that we are one nation under God.

It also guarantees the free mobility of people, goods and services throughout the country, as well as full residence rights for every citizen in all and any parts of the land of their choice. It is also the aspiration of the Constitution to ensure a country in which, and I quote, “loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties.”

And it is the responsibility of the Government to create the conditions for the attainment of these ideals. There is something that President Buhari is fond of saying, and he’s repeated it am sure so many of us have heard it: that without peace and security there can be no development. That the first obligation that we owe if we want to develop, is to ensure peace and security. We cannot develop a country that is not in the first place safe and secure for all people. For this reason we take extremely seriously our constitutional responsibilities as your government.

Those responsibilities also include listening to, consulting, and engaging with you; giving every citizen and every part of the Federation a sense of belonging and significance. And that is why we are here today.

I expect that our conversations here today will be frank and constructive, open and that all our deliberations will go towards ensuring that our country is a better place, a more peaceful place to live in. This is an important moment for all of us and for our country, and I hope that at the end of it we will all be satisfied that we have accomplished something significant not just for ourselves but for the future.

By the grace of God we will leave to coming generations a peaceful, secure and prosperous nation; a nation in which all citizens, regardless of their ethnic, religious affiliations, or their ages or gender will feel deep and enduring pride.

Thank you very much again for making out time to come and I hope that our deliberations will be very fruitful and like I said, please let us be as frank as possible

God bless you.

Released by 
Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President
Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President
June 14, 2017