Ethnic, religious tensions: Osinbajo tasks leaders on sacrifice, risking popularity


Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says leaders must be willing to make sacrifices and risk their popularity in order to attain long-lasting resolutions in situations of conflict, including ethnic and religious tensions.

Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Monday, said the vice president said this on Monday when he received a delegation from the Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC) led by its Executive Chairman, Mr Disu Kamor, in Abuja.

MPAC is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to the promotion of peace building and interfaith cohesion, among other objectives.

“There is a need to understand first of all, that there is no way that we can deal with the tensions between the faiths and ethnicities in Nigeria today unless those in leadership are prepared to make some important sacrifices.

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“Those sacrifices are sacrifices even in what you say, how you say it, and then sacrifices also in the acknowledgment of whatever people are saying and the willingness to accept.

“It is very important that we don’t diminish the importance of language and respectful non-violent communication so that we are able to keep our discussions at a level that ensures that we don’t degenerate too quickly to violence.”

He cited the examples of the sacrifices made by the late South African leader, Nelson Mandela and Imam Abubakar Abdullahi of Barkin Ladi in Plateau.

 He said that Mandela, who had spent such a long time in jail under apartheid before becaming President still pushed for a South Africa where even his tormentors got equal treatment like other black South Africans.

Osinbajo said that, Abdullahi in 2018, put his life on the line to save the lives of over 200 Christians who took refuge in his mosque when some gunmen attacked the village of Nghar Yelwa in Barkin Ladi, Plateau,  and sought to kill the Christians.

“These are stories of people who are not only political or religious leaders but just ordinary people, doing the right thing.

“Unless we are prepared to not just talk about it but to make an open display, first of all, of those who are doing the right things, but more importantly, challenging our leaders to say the right things and to be prepared to risk some popularity in order to do so, then we will just be wasting a lot of time.”

He commended MPAC’s  efforts in promoting interfaith cohesion.

The vice president said that setting up an inclusive platform for interfaith dialogue should be an important consideration by concerned stakeholders.

“I think it is something that is important, especially one that takes into account younger people, professionals who are not necessarily religious leaders in that sense, maybe there might be a way to have a more inclusive interfaith dialogue.

“We are at a point in time in our history, where people who are responsible and like-minded from all of the faiths and ethnicities should come together to do something,” he said.

Earlier in his presentation, Kamor said MPAC had been involved in programmes and activities aimed at promoting cohesion among people of different faiths over the past decade.

He said the group was ready to collaborate with other stakeholders in deepening efforts aimed at ensuring peaceful coexistence and dousing the tensions across the country among people of different faiths.(NAN)

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