By Lawrence Olaoye
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has cautioned governors of the 36 states of the federation and other people in leadership positions to watch their public utterances in order not to heat up the policy and cause unnecessary crisis.
Osinbajo gave this warning yesterday at the valedictory session of the National Economic Council (NEC) held in the Presidential Villa.
He said, the governors in particular were privileged to know some of the challenges facing the country and should rather take deliberate steps that would unite other than divide the nation.
According to him, the governors as Chief Executive of their respective states understand the importance of unity.
”Many of us have led our states for these many years, no one needs to advise us on the importance of unity; on importance of tempering utterances with wisdom, with moderation and conserve expressing concern for those who are the usual victims of the conflicts that are caused by hate speech, the conflicts that are caused by careless and reckless statements, ” he stressed.
Osinbajo explained that ordinary Nigerians have no problems with their brothers and sisters of different tribes and religions since they share the same issues and want a decent existence.
”They want food on the table, they want good shelter and security of lives and livelihoods.
”Unfortunately and frequently, our political elites, sometimes out of advancing political agenda or simply seeking relevance, recklessly stoke the fires of ethnicity and religious conflicts,” he added.
The Vice President stressed that Nigerian leaders have a duty to keep the peace and welfare of the country.
”We must not only rise above the temptation to take advantage of our country’s fault lines, we must definitely condemn and restrain those who do so. We must insist that this country truly belongs to all of us especially those who cannot defend themselves.
”I should advise that you should use your influence and reach to the advantage of Nigerian people. You have seen and heard for yourselves the enormity of our national problems, very few people have the advantage to see closely as we do the issues that concern our country, the issues that even concern our different states, we here have that unique advantage.
”So I think that we can help in one way or the other, we can do something in our states and other states in a way of advocacy or action on education and health care in particular and jobs, ” Osinbajo stressed.
The Vice President said that the legacy document presented to council after the four year period was an important reference as it chronicled sector debates and resolutions that would utilized by the next NEC.
Osinbajo who thanked the governors for the encomiums showered on him by various speakers at the meeting, noted that of Nigeria’s huge population of about 200 million, only 74 persons, including the president, vice-president, 36 governors and their deputies, were given the responsibilities of formulating policies and executing projects meant to serve the huge populace.
Speaking at the meeting, the outgoing Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, commended the vice-president for his sterling leadership in the last four years.
He advised the council on the need to work hard, block leakages in the system and take proactive measures to expand the size of the economy.
Speaking on behalf of South-west Governors, Lagos State governor, Akinwumi Ambode, who recalled the challenges facing the states when NEC came into being in 2015, narrated how 27 states could not pay workers’ salaries, a trend he said led to the decision to seek bailout funds for states from the federal government, which he said was promptly approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Speaking on behalf of South-east governors, Imo State governor and Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Rochas Okorocha, suggested the need to set target as performance benchmark.
While speaking on behalf of North-east governors, Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, commended the Vice-President for providing the right direction to the council.
In his own submission on behalf of the North-central governors, Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, said NEC in the last four years had provided economic direction for the country through an inclusive system run by the vice-president.
In his remarks, Governor Kashim Shetima, of Borno State, who spoke on behalf of North-east governors, praised Osinbajo, saying he had proved himself as a man of character, alluding to the maxim that power is the test of a man’s character.
Also speaking, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, who spoke on behalf of South-south governors said since the inception of the council in 2015, party affiliation had never been a consideration for anything.
He said the vice-president provided the platform for freedom of expression and association, saying the sense of unity in the council was unprecedented.