Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has charged the elites in the country to shun divisive narratives, heal rifts between communities and build bridges across divides. Osinbajo made this on Thursday in Abuja in his keynote address at the Leadership Conference and Awards chaired by the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammmadu Sa’ad Abubakar. Other dignitaries at the Conference were state governors, members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.
In a release by his spokesman, Laolu Akande, Osinbajo pointed out that the highest duty of the elites in the society was sacrifice, urging them to always tell their people the truth even when it hurts their political fortunes or fame. The Vice President also called on the nation’s elites to stop depending on promoting tribal and religious fault lines for legitimacy, noting that “the external reasons we cite for our problems cannot thrive without severe internal weaknesses in our society.”
He added, “we must be able to say to the young men and women who say secession is the only way or that we should break up into little nations that it is the way of extinction not development. We must, as religious leaders, be able to tell our adherents that people of other religions are not their enemies, they are brothers and sisters and that they must not allow those who will benefit by division and strife to tell them differently.” He stated further that all Nigerians must endeavour to promote civilized values, including affirming the value and sanctity of human life, rather than violence, ethnic and religious fault lines to drive national change.
Emphasizing the need to reform institutions for law and order to thrive, the Vice President noted the importance of building consensus and mediating elite competition and conflict in finding an acceptable ‘middle ground’ among contesting options to the resolution of issues. He added that the elites must broaden their horizons beyond specific disciplines and sectors in times of crises. Talking on corporate social responsibilities, Osinbajo stressed that business lead ers must understand that it was not enough to focus on making profits, but that they must create a healthy society within which to operate and make profits. Addressing how elites could drive national transformation, the Vice President said: “the media elite must recognize that they have a responsibility to exercise discernment in the deployment of their platforms and must reflect upon whether they are amplifying the most insensate, intemperate, and incendiary voices in our midst while marginalizing voices of reason. “The political elites must accept, through policies and, that the purpose of power must be to better the lives of those we serve and give the young great hope for the future. This is what transformational elitism looks like.”
To his colleagues in the legal profession, Osinbajo said they must understand that the imperative of transformative leadership in the legal sector today called for the Bar and the Bench to insist on the integrity of the nation’s system of justice, insist on speed in the dispensation of cases and call out anyone who compromises the system. While calling for compromise and broad-based constructive engagements on national issues, Osinbajo reiterated the need for all Nigerians, regardless of tribe, ethnicity, or religion, to come together for nation-building purposes, stating that, “the recognition that the system is not working optimally for many of our people should inspire a broad-based movement for reform that works to recalibrate the present order and attune it more to the aspirations of our people.” He urged Nigerians to resist temptations of being led astray by “those with ulterior motives in pushing particular agitations.”