Nigeria cannot afford another civil war despite the increasing agitation and security challenges, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo warned on Wednesday.
He urged the political elite to rise up in defence of national unity and speak up against calls for disintegration.
The Vice President’s position was supported by two major traditional rulers – the Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi and the Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar.
The royal fathers cautioned against calls for secession by individuals and groups.
Also on Wednesday, former President Olusegun Obasanjo expressed optimism that the security challenge would end soon.
However, Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe said the Federal Government was pushing the country towards disintegration as a result of its “nepotism and sectionalism”.
Osinbajo, who spoke during a meeting with All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirants in Anambra State, said the silence of the elite on the spate of attacks in the Southeast and other parts of the country has grave implications.
At the session organised by Anambra APC patriots, led by Dozie Ikedife, the Vice President said Nigeria should avoid “a war without end.”
He warned: “Everyone who thinks they have some monies stored up somewhere, will eventually run out of money. Everyone who thinks they can go and hide somewhere, won`t even find a place to hide. In the end, everyone will suffer.
“Even if you don’t suffer, your parents, children, young and old people and your relations will suffer. We cannot afford a war in this country, we can`t afford it.”
The Vice President maintained that the failure of the elite to act now will expose the country to danger.
He said: “I pray that our country will never know conflict, but I know that every conflict is as a result of elite failure to speak up the truth and tell the truth to their communities.”
“If we don`t speak up against disunity, if we keep quiet and remain under the radar, the enemies of peace and those who want to promote disunity will have their way. And when this happens, we will find ourselves running helter shelter.”
Osinbajo spoke on the APC governorship primary slated for June 26, assuring aspirants of a level playing field.
He charged them to work in unity and support whoever emerged as the standard bearer for the November 6 election. He also urged the would-be candidate to avoid the winner-takes-all syndrome.
Ikedife said the interface was organised to bring the aspirants together to interact in an atmosphere of concord.
He appealed to the leadership of the party to ensure a free, fair and transparent shadow poll.
At another event in Lagos, Osinbajo, the Sultan, the Ooni and All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, attributed rising agitations and dissatisfaction across the country to illiteracy and misinformation.
They spoke on Wednesday during the presentation of a book titled ‘Islam in Yorubaland: History, Education and Culture’, by the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN).
Osinbajo said it was saddening that those who are ill-informed have taken the mantle of demanding separation and promoting issues capable of pitching Nigerians against one another in a bid to achieving their agenda.
He argued that though the country was facing challenges and that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration was exploring different options to bring about lasting solutions, Nigerians should support the government by shunning divisive rhetoric and their promoters.
The Vice President who was represented by the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, urged religious and traditional rulers to continue supporting the government in amplifying the message of peace and religious tolerance.
Sultan Abubakar noted that aside from history, religious leaders and scholars across Nigeria must feed their followers with the truth and the true meaning of the faiths they profess.
He canvassed religious tolerance, to foster harmony across the country.
The monarch said it had become imperative for stakeholders to initiate policies that would bring down misinformation on religious differences.
Sultan Abubakar said calling for secession at the time Nigeria is seeking to fix its security apparatus.
Oba Ogunwusi called for harmonious relationship among all tribes irrespective of their religious background. He called for unity among Nigerians.
He implored other regions to learn from the religious harmony in the Southwest.
According to him, hardly is there a family in Yorubaland without having Muslims and Christians among them.
Despite this, Oba Ogunwusi said, it was rare finding people fighting over region in the Southwest.
Asiwaju Tinubu called for unity among Nigerians in the face of insecurity.
Nigerians, he said, should support the Federal government’s efforts at quelling insurgents and banditry.
He was represented by a former Lagos State Deputy Governor Dr Idiat Adebule.
Former President Obasanjo called for prayers for the nation to overcome the security situation.
He assured that it will not consume the country.
He spoke at the 108th Annual Convention of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, held at the Baptist International Conference Centre, KM 54 Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
At the convention, Rev Olasupo Ayokunle handed over the baton of leadership as President to Rev Israel Akanji.
Obasanjo said: “The scrotum of our govt is only dangling, it cannot fall off. I see that.
“On the situation we are in the country, I am an incurable optimist about a number of things particularly about Nigeria.
“The situation in Nigeria threatening but we won’t be consumed by it.
“Keep praying that the situation will only be threatening, but we won’t be overcome by it. May we continue to prosper.”
Nigerians to continue to pray for the nation’s leaders towards surmounting its challenges.
“The issue of insecurity is a very big challenge. We need prayers, we need you to continue to pray for the leaders in this country and continue to do your bit because the government alone cannot do it. My charge to you is that when you see something, you must say something and let the people in authority know where there are gaps.”
Govt pushing Nigeria towards disintegration
Delivering a keynote address at the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Owerri Branch 2021 Law Week, Abaribe said a certain tribe is fueling the feeling of disintegration.
He said: “In my interactions with Nigerians across all divide and classes, you get the impression that Nigerians do not want to go to war. You also get the impression that Nigerians don’t want to be divided into many mini-countries today.
“But, Nigerians are being pushed to the wall by two things: nepotism and sectionalism of this government and ethnic triumphalism that is going on; importing people from outside Nigerian who come into this country and decimating people in this country and no effort is being made to tackle the problem because some people think they are of a particular religion or ethnic nationality.
Abaribe added: “We have had to witness killings of natives, women raped, farmlands destroyed, kidnappings of citizens all over the country and forests forcefully occupied.
“The security forces that should offer protection seem to rather act as if they are in collusion with the criminals and this invading army being treated with seeming indifference.
“Nigerians who bear the brunt of these attacks daily, lose hope in the idea of unity of the nation”.