After meeting with leaders of thought in the north yesterday behind close doors in a bid to stem the tide of the brewing sectional agitations, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo will be meeting with the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and prominent leaders in the southeast region today to continue with consultations aimed at dowsing tensions in the country.
The New Diplomat gathered the consultations and meetings are expected to last till Friday when the Acting President will be hosting traditional rulers across the country over the sounding drum beats of war.
The Spokesperson to the Acting President, Laolu Akande had earlier said on Monday that Professor Osinbajo called for the meeting in response to the recent threat by some northern groups that Ndigbo must leave the northern region before October 1.
The statement also said that the Acting President will start series of consultations with the northern and southern leaders beginning from Tuesday’s evening to salvage the tensed situation in the country.
It said Professor Osinbajo will meet with leaders of the regions separately before meeting with them collectively.
According to the statement, “The Acting President met, over the weekend, with security chiefs and gave them firm instructions on the need to protect lives and property of all Nigerians, everywhere.
“The Acting President will start a series of consultations with leaders of thought from the northern and eastern regions of the country this afternoon.
“He will first meet each group separately on different days this week and then meet them together afterwards,” Akande stated.
Meanwhile, in a meeting with northern leaders yesterday, Osinbajo said the government would take very seriously any attempts to cause violence or disrupt the peace of the country.
He said, “As a government, we are determined to ensure the unity of the country along the lines of our Constitution and I want to say that hate and divisive speech or divisive behaviour where it is illegal will be met with the full force of the law.
“I want to ensure that there is no doubt at all that it is the resolve of the government that none will be allowed to get away with making speeches that can cause sedition or that can cause violence.
This is especially because when we make these kinds of pronouncement and do things that can cause violence or destruction of lives and property, we are no longer in control. Those who make those speeches are no longer in control.
“So I want to emphasize that government will take very seriously any attempts to cause violence or disrupt the peace of this country. And that is very important because you cannot control violence once it begins.”
Osinbajo likened violence or hate speech to a stone that is thrown in the marketplace which will hit targets that will be deadly.
“These days, wars do not end and I am sure that those who have seen or experienced war in any shape or form will not wish it on their worst enemies.
“This is not a time to retreat behind ethnic lines, moments like this are not for isolating ourselves.
Present at the meeting are: Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Speaker House of Representatives,Yakubu Dogara,Chief of Defence Staff,Gen Gabriel Olanishakin, Chairman Arewa Consultative Forum and former IGP, Ibrahim Comassie, Prof. Ango Abdullahi.
Others are former governor of Sokoto state, Aliyu Wamako, former Deputy Governor of Plateau state, Pauline Tallen, Publisher of Leadership newspapers, Sam Ndah-Isaiah, Paul Unongo, Tijani Ramalan,Editor in Chief of Daily Trust among others.