Governors from the 36 state of the federation has declared that Nigeria’s unity is sacrosanct and non-negotiable, and persons or groups agitating for its division are wasting their time.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, who spoke to journalists, on behalf of his colleagues, after the meeting convened by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, as part of ongoing consultations to resolve ethnic tensions in parts of the country, said Nigeria has more to gain when it is united.
“We cannot afford to break, and anybody thinking of that is wasting his time,” he declared against the backdrop of separatist agitations by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and the three-month eviction notice by Arewa youths to Igbo to leave the north by October 1.
“We have all agreed to work together to educate the people. Any time you have agitation, usually there will be poverty, there will be unemployment, there will be hardship, and so we should address fundamentally these areas of poverty, unemployment and hardship.
“Nigerians are by nature a united people, nobody cares whether you are from the north, south or the east.
“We cannot play with the unity of this country. The consensus has been that there must be unity. The message is for Nigerians to work more together and collaborate. We have more to gain when we are united… All of us are unanimous about that.”
Ajumobi appealed to the media to concentrate on stories that unite rather than sensationalism.
He said: “If we fight, everybody will lose. Have you ever seen a country that fought civil war and remain the same? We don’t want to be another Rwanda and Somalia and all these places. The government is doing its best (to ensure Nigeria remain a united entity).”
Earlier in his remark, the Acting President, Prof. Osinbajo challenged the leaders, especially governors, to speak more forcefully to counter divisive speeches or any kind of war mongering. He said failure to do so could be disastrous.
“If the leaders do not speak up forcefully enough, if for any reason matters are allowed to degenerate, not only does leadership lose their legitimacy, they run the risk of things going completely out control,” he said in his opening remark, before the meeting, attended by 22 governors and four deputies, went into closed door, at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja.
He appealed to governors to resist the temptation to play politics, especially with matters of security, and also reminded them of their roles in instilling peace and protecting lives and properties in their areas.
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