Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has again condemned hate speeches among ethnic groups in the country, urging elders to speak out against what is wrong.
He asked them to condemn divisive comments because “violence pays no one”.
The Acting President spoke when he met with some Southeast elders at the Presidential Villa in Abuja as part of his ongoing consultations with leaders from the region and the North.
The meeting was informed by the quit notice served on easterners in the North by the Arewa Youth Groups.
Osinbajo said the meeting was urgent and crucial because of the current loud voices of hate speeches and divisive comments. The situation, he said, required urgent attention from all.
He said this was not the time to hide under any ethnic or religious platform to support comments that divided rather than united the nation.
Urging leaders to raise their voices against the strident divisive speeches, he said: “Violence and war are not going to do anyone any good. Wars today hardly end. No one who has seen the face of wars even on television will wish it for anyone. We shouldn’t tolerate hate speeches or divisive comments.”
He reiterated the government’s resolve to deal with any one who threatened the country’s peaceful coexistence.
“There is no doubt on the resolve of government to allow anyone get away with hate speeches and divisive words. Our emotion should not be allowed to run wide so as to threaten the existence of anyone anywhere in Nigeria. We will do everything within our power to protect the life of every citizen anywhere and in any part of the country,” he said.
At the meeting are Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Governors Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, David Umahi, Okezie Ikpeazu, Willy Obiano, and Rochas Okorocha of Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia, Anambra and Imo.
Others are the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno, former Senate President Ken Nnamani, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Senator Joy Emodi, Professor Viola Nwuleri.
Speaking with State House correspondents after the meeting, Governor Umahi said there was hope for a united Nigeria.
On whether messages from the meeting will be accepted by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), he said: “The meeting is not about IPOB; it is on the need for security of lives and properties all over Nigeria and the need for a united, honest, fair and equitable Nigeria. That is what the meeting is about.
“It was a wonderful meeting and the message we are taking back is that there is hope for a united and peaceful Nigeria and everybody should work hard.
“We emphasise the need for everybody to restrain from making hate statements. We should be making statements binding us together, statements of love, statements of unity, statements of hope and of course we should also work very hard.
On what message the group is taking back to agitators, the governor said ‘Everybody has a right to agitate but we emphasis the need for peaceful agitation. Even you agitate, your wife agitates at home that the feeding money is not enough, so it is a fundamental right but is the manner you go about it. So it is not an issue that cannot be resolved.”