Acting President Yemi Osinbajo says that in the course of living together, misunderstandings and frustration are inevitable, but noted that “we can only begin to talk about any part of anything if we are together in peace.
The Acting President on Tuesday began consultations with leaders of thought from the North and warned that the government would deal decisively with persons who make hate speeches or attempt to disrupt the peace of the country.
The meeting was sequel to the calls for secession by youth from different ethnic groups in the country resulting in some asking others to vacate their enclave before October 1.
The Acting President noted that that was not what the country desired at this time and urged those involved to desist or face the full weight of law.
“This is not the time to retreat behind ethnic climes.
“Moments like this are not for isolating ourselves and I want to urge all of us who are here and of course the entire Nigerian populace that it is a time for us to come together and to work together.
“As a government, we are of course determined to ensure the unity of the country along the lines of our constitution.
“I want to say that hate or divisive speech, or divisive behaviour, while it is illegal, will be met with the full force of the law.
“And I want to assure that there is no doubt of the resolve of government to ensure that no one will be allowed to get away with making speeches that can cause division, or that can cause violence.
“Especially because when we make these kinds of pronouncements and we do things that can cause violence or disruption of lives and property, those who make those speeches are no longer in control.
“I want to just emphasise that government will take very seriously any attempts to cause violence or to disrupt the peace of this country.’’
The Acting President said that the warning was very important because “we cannot control violence once it begins.’’
He further recalled that in the past few weeks there were louder noises from the youth population which the leaders should not condone.
According to him, there are people who may deride such speeches and others who may say that the hate speeches which show intolerance and promote division are not important and should be ignored.
Osinbajo however noted that it was important that the leaders should address the issues quickly bearing in mind their exposure to the history of the country.
He said it was important that the leaders gave some direction to the youth as to how best they should express grievances.
The country’s defining strength, according to him, was the constitutional provision which called the country a sovereign nation under God.
According to him, there is no homogenous society in any part of the country due to the residence of people from other parts on the country in other places.
He said that every form of hate speech of stone thrown in the market would hit people they were not intended.
He prayed that God will help the country to be a place people will be proud of, and said it was a duty to the next generation to hand over to them a peaceful and prosperous nation. [NAN]