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Monday, September 28, 2015

Nigeria at 55: Osinbajo Preaches Unity

Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN)

Says terrorists’ bombs don’t discriminate between religions or ethnic origins

The Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), Sunday disclosed that terrorists’ bombs do not ask questions on the religious persuasion of victims or their ethnic origins, before causing havoc and destruction, urging Nigerians to unite and work together for the development of the country.

Osinbajo spoke yesterday at the church service marking the country’s 55th Independence anniversary coming up on October 1.
He said: “Our nation is sharply divided and has been divided for long. Our nation is divided along religious divide, is divided along tribal lines but the word of God says in Mathew 12: 35 that a kingdom divided against itself shall be left desolate,  it also says a city that is divided within itself can not stand. It does not matter whether that is a nation or a city.
“I have travelled the length and breadth of this nation, especially in the North-eastern parts in the last few months and I have seen children, women, men who were bomb victims. I have seen the dead, the wounded, the sick.
“The truth of the matter is that the bulk of all those that I have seen, there were Moslems, there were Christians, there were those who professed no particular faith, but were all Nigerians, and one thing that united them was that they were all poor, and in IDP camps,” Osinbajo recalled, asking Nigerians to stand together against terrorism and poverty.
He added: “When a bomb goes off in Potiskum or in a market in Maiduguri or Gombe, it does not ask if you are a Christian or a Muslim, it does not. It never asks if you are Yoruba or Ibo, or Hausa.”
The vice-president urged religious and political leaders to emphasise only what unites the people of Nigeria not what divides them. According to him leaders “must understand that the terrorism is not a contest between Christians and Muslims, it goes well beyond that. It is our duty not to pursue narratives that divide us. It is our duty to do everything that unites us. We must ensure that we don’t create further divisions, but that we bind together those divisions, that is our duty.”
He lamented that Nigeria has been divided against ethnic and religious lines for far too long, calling for a time of unity.
“That unity is so crucial, so important. It is all that will make a difference in the next few years,“ he stated.
One of Nigeria’s major problems, he argued, is that “we would play politics with everything, but the fate of over 110 million extremely poor Nigerians have not been the central concern of anyone.”
He said it was the fate of those vast majority of Nigerians who are poor that should be our concern as a people.
He also expressed deepest condolences to the families of Nigerians who lost their lives in the Mecca stampede tragedy praying that God will comfort them, and their communities.
Praying that at 55, Nigeria will experience double grace, since number five stands for grace, the Vice President also wished Nigerians a time of double favor in their personal lives.
President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Pastors Ayo Oritsejiafo was represented by Dr. Musa Asake, General Secretary of CAN.
Intercessory prayers were offered for the president, the vice-president, the legislature and judiciary, for the peace and development of a Nigeria and the unity of the church.
Earlier, Catholic Bishop of Kafanchan, Bishop Joseph Bagobiri who delivered the sermon, challenged Islamic leaders in the country to stand up in strong condemnation of perpetrators of the evil called ‘insecurity’ if Nigeria must remain one indivisible nation.
Bagobiri, whose sermon was based on the theme ‘making Nigeria function as a family: panacea to healthy national integration,’ explained that despite the country’s diversity which created the perceived divide, Nigeria had been able to survive with several predictions of her disintegration.
Delivering the homily , Bagobiri said the scriptures read from the books of II Chronicles 7:1-14 and I Corinthians 12:12-30 during the service were all pointed to the image of Nigeria as a family.
He said: “We need Nigeria first before the other contending things that citizens continue to fight for. Take Nigeria away and we will not do the fighting we are doing today.
“Those who are penetrating these evils belong to the house hold of Islam, and the house hold of Islam should rise up and cut the excesses of their own members.
“If there is a Christian militia group in Nigeria today, it is we who will be the first, the Church leaders to confront this militia and say it is not in consonance with the teaching of Jesus Christ, we shall not hide them.”
Bishop Bagobiri noted this year’s celebration of independence offersed the country the opportunity to call to God and thank him for his mercy, intervention and favour as remaining as one indivisible nation.
The clergy who lamented that insecurity had continued to kill innocent Nigerians, accused those perpetrating such acts of not working in the interest of the country.
“We have since our amalgamation in 1914, all through our independence as a sovereign state not been successful in harnessing our plurality, diversity into a rainbow of peace and sustainable development because, instead of allowing ourselves to be guided, to be propelled by national interest, we are bedevilled by the blind pursued self centred and parochial interest that often toe the lines of ethnic and religious and politically partisan considerations.
“What we should struggle and make sacrosanct is the survival of our nation which is bigger than everything.We need Nigeria first before the other contending needs that we are fighting for, relating this to Prophet Jeremiah in the Bible. That this is the only way to promote national cohesion.”
Among those who attended the service included Deputy Senate President Ike Ikweremadu, Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara, Former Head of Interim National Government Earnest Shonekan, service chiefs and the Inspector General of Police, the Corps Marshall of the Federal Roads Safety Corps and members of the diplomatic corps.

[Tobi Soniyi in Abuja, This Day]

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