Osinbajo to the Nigerian elite: let’s sacrifice, bring people together

In a rousing speech last night, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, said that despite the nation’s current challenges, Nigerians must avoid drifting into voices that call for darker impulses, but rather counter fear, despair and division with inspiring faith, creative optimism and solidarity.

He specifically called on the elites to act in solidarity and build consensus to address conflicting issues in the nation and expand the circle of opportunities, especially for young people.

Along the same lines, the vice president said the country’s political, economic and religious leaders must avoid divisive narratives in order to bring all Nigerians together, bridge the gaps between communities and build bridges over divisions.

Professor Osinbajo said this Thursday evening in Abuja during his opening speech at the Conference and leadership awards on the theme: National and regional insecurity: the role of political and non-political actors in stabilization and construction consensus. Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, presided over the event attended by some state governors and members of the Federal Executive Council, including the Secretary of the Federation Government, Patron Mustapha, and the Minister of Health , Dr. Osagie Ehanire.

Referring to the expression “Noblesse Oblige” which means in English “the nobility oblige”, the vice-president said that it conveys the idea that the nobility extends beyond the simple right and requires that people of noble status fulfill their social responsibilities.

Explaining, he noted that “the highest office and duty of the elite is sacrifice, sacrifice and more sacrifice,” the vice president urged the country’s elites to “be ready to speak the truth to our voters even if it hurts our political fortunes or our popularity. “

The vice president also called on the country’s elites to stop relying on or promoting tribal and religious fault lines for legitimacy, noting that “the external reasons that we cite as the reasons for our problems cannot prosper without serious weaknesses. internal in our company ”.

He added, “We must be able to tell the young men and women who say that secession is the only way or that we should divide into small nations that it is the road to extinction and not to development. We, as religious leaders, must be able to tell our adherents that people of other faiths are not their enemies, they are brothers and sisters and that they must not allow those who will profit from the division and conflicts to tell them otherwise.

The Vice President further said that all Nigerians should strive to promote civilized values ​​- including affirming the value and sanctity of human life, rather than violence, ethnic and religious fault lines to lead national change.

While emphasizing the need to reform institutions for public order to thrive, the Vice President also underlined the importance of reaching consensus and arbitrating competition and conflict between elites for ” find acceptable “middle ground” among contested options for problem solving. “

Stressing the importance of “corporate social responsibility, good corporate citizenship” and what he called “transformational elitism” in nation-building, the vice president said that “in In times of crisis, the elite must broaden their horizons beyond their specific disciplines and sectors. As a result, business leaders understand that it is not enough to focus on making profits; businesses need a healthy society in which to operate and make a profit. That is why there are now concepts such as corporate social responsibility and good corporate citizenship. “

Addressing how elites can drive national transformation, the vice president added: “The media elite must recognize that they have a responsibility to exercise good judgment in the deployment of their platforms and must consider whether they amplifies the most insane, the most intemperate and the most inflammatory voices. among us while marginalizing the voices of reason.

“The political elite must accept, through policies and actions, that the purpose of power must be to improve the lives of those we serve and to give young people great hope for the future. Once we put the prism of social responsibility in place, different and higher imperatives come into play. This is what transformational elitism looks like.

The vice-president, who is also a lawyer, addressed a word to his colleagues in the legal profession. According to him, “legal practitioners understand that the imperative of transformative leadership in the legal sector today calls on the bar and the judiciary to insist on the integrity of our justice system, to insist on speed in the process. ‘business investigation and to call anyone who compromises the system.

He then turned to attendees at the Newspaper Leadership Conference, saying that “those of us in this conference are, by virtue of our pedigree and status, members of a privileged minority. The contrast between our exceptional circumstances and the material conditions of the majority of our compatriots imposes on us a moral obligation to work for the common good, towards a society that works for all by extending the circle of opportunities.

Emphasizing how the nation’s elites are an integral part of the process of deepening national unity, the Vice President said: “In times of crisis, we learn and re-learn lessons of solidarity and the value of solidarity.

“In times of adversity, societies shaken by uncertainty and anxiety are tempted to drift into voices that appeal to our darkest impulses, those that indulge in fear, despair and division. . Elites such as those gathered here today must counter these voices by inspiring faith, creative optimism and solidarity, ”advised Professor Osinbajo.

Speaking of himself, he assured that “I remain steadfast in my belief that we will triumph over adversity by the strength of our unity. The present moment cries out for leaders capable of bringing our people together, bridging the gaps between communities and bridging divisions. “

While calling for compromise and constructive large-scale engagement on national issues, the Vice President 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 reform movement that works to recalibrate the current order and further adapt it. to the aspirations of our people.

He urged Nigerians to resist the temptations to be misled by those who have ulterior motives by pushing particular agitations.

According to him, “It is also understandable that we can see that some of this turmoil resonates with us. We can regard them as legitimate causes and identify ourselves as such. However, the temptation is that our sympathy for legitimate causes blinds us to the destructive and illegitimate means employed by those who pursue those causes. It is a temptation that we must resist.

In support of his claim, Professor Osinbajo quoted Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., who said: “Destructive means cannot lead to constructive ends.

He continued, “In a country as diverse as ours, the aim of our national conversations should be to promote consensus for progress rather than promote discord and discord. We must commit to continuing this tradition of renewing our nation through proven and reliable means of conciliation, compromise and consensus. “

The Vice President added: “There is no doubt that our country is going through a period of trials and tests. Many of our people face adversity on many fronts. It is understandable that discontent arises and sparks agitation. In a democracy, agitation – making our voices heard while respecting our concerns – is perfectly legitimate. What is deeply problematic is when we use destructive and unlawful means to continue unrest.

“Our system is not perfect, but it prescribes the means by which discontent can be channeled through the constitutionally guaranteed rights to vote, to associate, to protest and to speak out. Change is possible through the system, but only if we engage it rather than destroy it. So while the current system is not perfect, it can only be improved as more of our employees get involved, ”said the vice president.

He then explained that “no project of social renewal and transformation can succeed without the involvement and leadership of the elites” or “in a climate of socio-political instability”, adding that “the task that awaits us is that of renewing the social contract, creating more inclusive institutions, growing the economy and generating opportunities for our population.

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