Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has charged religious bodies and other relevant stakeholders in the project Nigeria to leverage on their influence to purge divisive groups and their actions from the country.
He also reassured every Nigerian not to panic but to live freely in any part of the country without fear of molestation.
The assurance was coming on the heel of growing tension in the country, barely 24 hour to the expiration of the October 1 quit notice issued by the coalition of Arewa youth groups.
Osinbajo, who was speaking at the public lecture to mark the 57th independence anniversary of Nigeria organised by the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) in Abuja, reiterated the government’s resolve to achieving a just and equitable society.
Represented by the Minister of Mine and Steel, Kayode Fayemi, the VP explained that in a society like Nigeria, there was bound to be differences, “therefore, we should build on those things that bind us together.”
His words: “Without a doubt we are marking our independence anniversary this year during period of challenges on our unity as a country. In recent time the federal government had to take far reaching measure to address potential threat on the well being of our republic.
“Nigeria is a vastly plural society with the population of close to 200 million creating and enterprising people consisting over 250 distinct ethnic nationalities and spread over and extensive land mark.
“We have challenges but there is nothing compare with love that the God had blessed us with, I believe our challenges are not insurmountable on the road to building a strong and united Federal Republic. We have all that it takes to turn our diversity to strength and our large population to be seeing as an opportunity rather than a problem.
“Managing our diversity and differences and our large population to make it work to our advantage as a country is a really challenge before us. We can follow the example of others with similar composition and achieve sustainable peace and development in the midst of our diversity.
“Even in personal relationship, at the family and community levels, there is bound to be diversity of opinions. There is no way we can avoid having differences as a country, so, the fact that we have differences is not the main problem, regardless of how these differences are reported in the traditional and social media.
“This is why our administration will continue to enlarge the spaces for dialogue as we believe it is only by continuously engaging that we can deepen mutual trust and understanding among the different tribes and religions in our country.
“Stakeholder groups such as the supreme council for Islamic affairs have a responsibility of leveraging your influence to continue to condemn the divisive directorates and actions in the country. In our religious gathering as the voices of reason and truth, we must influence our children to see our country’s diversity.
“We have to reinforce that the ties that bind us together are more than those that seek to tear us apart. Our goal is to achieve a just and equitable society, where every individual can pursue and achieve his or her own God given potentials regardless of either age, ethnicity , religion, physical-ability , heath status, economic circumstances among others.
“We continue to assure every Nigerian that we are committed to upholding the peace and unity of our great country and that every Nigerian can continue to live freely in any part of this country without fear or hindrance.”