Osinbajo’s harmless statement triggers controversy

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

PROFESSOR Yemi Osinbajo, vice president of Nigeria, is presently in the eye of a storm for a statement he made that was grossly taken out of context. At the special inter-denominational service commemorating Nigeria’s sixtieth independence anniversary September 27, Osinbajo, SAN, who was highly delighted at the event spoke to the theme of the service which revolved around the biblical Nehemiah.

Represented by Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation, the vice president said, for us in Nigeria, Nehemiah should be taken as a metaphor for that Nigerian, who either in the country or outside, would cry to God to give him the wherewithal to use the abundant opportunities in the country to address our challenges of nation building.

Said he: “Fortunately for us in the Nigeria, our walls are not yet broken but have cracks that could lead to a break if not promptly addressed.

“Nehemiah first started with fervent prayers, seeking the face of God and pleaded with his King in Persia to allow him go to Jerusalem to help his people rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem.

“We might wonder what is the significance of a wall to the lives of people. But if we appreciate that in those days, a wall around a city signified security, prosperity, peace and contentment we would understand that the wall signified the essence of a nation-state.”

The vice president said that the rebuilding, in the face of great odds, represented the people’s renewal of faith, their overcoming national shame and the reforming of their conduct. “We can, therefore see how urgent the need for a Nehemiah in our country is,” he said.

“Just like Nehemiah faced opposition from Sanballat, that Nigerian, with the burning desire to rebuild our broken walls will also face opposition. Such opposition, which usually comes in their torrents, can only be diffused by consistent focus, watching and praying.

“This anniversary calls for a re-birth of the Nigerian Nation and no group is more qualified to lead it than our religious bodies. I, therefore charge the CAN to provide leadership to its faithful in making Nigeria the great Nation that it has been destined to be.

“I must not fail to congratulate the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for their consistency in supporting the modest efforts of government and especially the role they are playing in the peace process of the country. Such partnership have been very useful in the development of the country and government looks forward to more of such.

“As I close my speech, I wish to express my confidence that this anniversary would surely lay a good foundation for the Nigeria of our dreams.”

The vice president’s harmless speech had triggered controversy because of the angle some media reported the story stating that he said that Nigeria will break.

This prompted reactions from some Nigerians who has vilified Osinbajo.

Reacting, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, warned the vice president against utterances that can worsen tensions in the country.

Emmanuel Yawe, ACF national publicity secretary, said acknowledging that there are cracks in the country were unhealthy as Nigeria will overcome them, cautioning national leaders to watch their words.

“The cracks are unhealthy but we expect the Vice President to calm nerves and not make a pronouncement that will aggravate the situation.

“The ACF is hopeful that Nigeria will overcome its current travails as it did in the past and even overcame a fratricidal war to break up Nigeria. To do this, Nigerian leaders like Osinbajo should watch their words”, he said in an interview with Punch.

Contrary to Arewa’s position,  Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere and the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, on Monday, supported the vice-president, saying Nigerians could not continue to live in denial.

Uche Achi-Okpaga, national publicity secretary and acting secretary general of Ohanaeze,  said the vice president’s stance is the position of most Nigerians.

Also Yinka Odumakin, national publicity secretary of Afenifere, described the vice president’s statement as bold and honest admission better than playing the ostrich.

Supporting, Ken Robinson, spokesman of PANDEF, told Punch Sunday that what Nigeria needed was restructuring, justice and peaceful coexistence to bring about progress and development.

Agreeing, Bitrus Porgu, president of the Middle Forum, said: “I think the Vice President said the right thing because we have been talking about the issues bedevilling the country including insecurity, bad governance, the structure of government which needs to be restructured among others. Unless these issues are addressed and urgently too, such that all the components that make up the country are happy with coexistence, things can fall apart.”

– Sept. 29, 2020 @ 7:44 GMT |