By Lawrence Olaoye
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has counseled Nigerian youths to rise above divisive ethnic and religious narratives.
This is coming as he clarified that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has no plans to Islamize Nigeria.
According to a statement made available to newsmen yesterday by his spokesman, Laolu Akande, Osinbajo charged them to instead actively advocate for causes and issues that would deepen national unity, progress and development in the country.
He gave the advise when he received a delegation from ONE Campaign, Nigeria Chapter, led by its Country Director, Ms. Serah Makka-Ugbabe.
The delegation comprised of members of the ONE Campaign, champions, and policy advocates representing the country’s six geopolitical zones who were selected to present the Vice President a Youth Declaration.
The Vice President stated that young people should focus their energies on championing causes that unite the country rather than divide it, while stating that ethnic and religious divisions and corruption are major issues that impede the development of any nation.
“There is no Muslim, Christian fighting this country, it is not true at all. That is not the issue. A lot of you who are here are Muslims and Christians, and young people want the same things, the same jobs. If you allow such false narratives, it would destroy and divide the country.
“Some people don’t care what they say or do, so long as they can get into power. And it is a very dangerous thing. And we have to preach against it openly.
The Vice President noted that when it comes to stealing of resources, there are people of different religions and tribes involved.
“So, people don’t talk about ethnicity and religion when they are stealing resources, why? Why don’t they say that it is an attempt to islamize Nigeria? The same way you have Nigerians cooperating in business across everything, across ethnicity or religion. But when it is convenient for some, the person pushes an ethnic agenda,” he said.
He further stated that the issues of ethnic and religious divisions and corruption must be addressed frontally by all Nigerians, including young Nigerians.
Referring to the composition of the Federal Executive Council of the administration in the first term, the VP said, “look, our cabinet has 20 Christians, 18 Muslims, the President is a Muslim. How does he want to Islamize the country? How, when we are all sitting down there? They make those stories up, just to push an agenda.”
While emphasizing on the impact of the Buhari administration’s Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) and the plan to take more Nigerians out of poverty and create jobs for young Nigerians through programmes like the N-Power job scheme, the Vice President stated that the SIPs would be expanded to further improve the welfare of youths and Nigerians generally, while the Federal Government will also focus on improving areas such as healthcare, education and agriculture.
In her remarks, ONE’s Nigeria Country Director, Serah Makka-Ugbabe, said, “ONE’s members and champions are honoured to present the Youth Declaration to the Vice President.” She also commended the spirit of openness and dialogue with which he has received the delegation.