By Bankole Wright
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has said ethnic and religious agitation in the country should be blamed on the elite class.
Osinbajo said this on Friday at the graduation ceremony of Senior Course 39 of the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna State.
He said disunity in the country was promoted by the elites to the masses, stating that it encourages people to see identification in terms of race and geopolitical zones.
“The rise of ethnic chauvinism rode on the wings of several agitations. The narrative of most agitations centers around alleged marginalization and fears of the dominance of one faith over the other.
“In the 2015 elections, the ruling party repeatedly tried to cast the opposition as a party of Islamists determined to Islamize Nigeria. The expression “Janjaweed party” took root,” Osinbajo stated.
He said the fact that a south-south man becomes President does not really translate to prosperity for the whole tribe but a few individuals.
“So, the mere fact that a South-South person became President did not necessarily translate to prosperity for the tribe, neither was it the case when a President from the North-West emerged, nor one from the South-West.Aside from a few individual beneficiaries of some appointments or the other, there is usually nothing to show for the ethnic group of those who emerge in Nigeria’s numerous ethnic contests for power. Yet, the contests of the tribes are heightened by the elite, usually for personal political or commercial ends,” Osinbajo observed.
He said most of those agitating on the pretence of marginalization are simply bargaining for government appointment.
“Notice that when people are charged with looting public funds, they quickly find a counter-narrative. It is because I am Yoruba, Fulani or Igbo or the Christians or Muslims are after me. Appointments in the public service are no longer even judged on merit. The question is how many are from my own ethnic group,” he said.
He noted that more divisive words, expressions, and actions designed to cause fear have also been freely used.
“Young people in the South-Eastern states, under the aegis of IPOB, issued a stay at home order as part of actions to prove support for their agitations for secession. In the Northern states young people under the aegis of the Arewa youths, issued an ultimatum to Igbos living in the Northern states to vacate before the 1st of October. The problem with hate-filled and divisive speech is that they tap into some of the basest human instincts, bringing up irrational suspicions, fear, anger, and hatred and ultimately mindless violence,” said Osinbajo.