Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says equity, justice, and fairness for all segments of society are imperative in the pursuit of unity in the county.
Osinbajo said this on Friday in Sokoto while delivering the Convocation Lecture of the Sokoto State University.
The vice president, who was received at Sokoto airport by Gov. Aminu Tambuwal, also paid a courtesy call on the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Abubakar.
Osinbajo spoke on the roles that leaders must play to engender unity in his lecture entitled: “Nigeria, Some Defining Issues for the Future.’’
The vice president said that any fear or allegation of marginalisation or discrimination on account of religion or ethnicity must not be overlooked.
“Political, especially ethnic leaders, and religious leaders must do the difficult work of educating their publics about the need to live together.
“It is the elites, leaders that will do the onerous job of ensuring unity in our communities.
“Unity is not just a slogan or even merely a good idea.
“It has manifest expression in our communities where Nigerians from diverse backgrounds are co-mingling, trading, partnering, inter-marrying and blending in various ways.
“We live in a complex web of multi-layered social, cultural, economic and political synergies playing out in every sector of our individual and national lives.
“Despite the scale of the challenges facing us, unravelling this web of commonality as proposed by enthusiasts of disintegration is a cure that is worse than the disease.
“This is why we must understand that even though managing diversity can be politically and administratively onerous, diversity itself is an economic strength and harnessing it properly is hugely rewarding,” he said.
Osinbajo said that if properly harnessed, a country’s diversity could ensure lasting prosperity for all.
According to him, it is a matter of interest that the most prosperous economies in the world are typically diverse.
“Because the true wealth of nations in the 21st century is human capital, societies that set out to attract and retain the most diverse pool of skilled human resources are ordained to prevail in the race for prosperity.
“With diversity comes a broad range of cultural, philosophical and intellectual approaches for solving problems; innovation can only flourish in this kind of setting.
“This is why we must understand that even though managing diversity can be politically and administratively onerous, diversity itself is an economic strength and harnessing it properly is hugely rewarding,” Osinbajo added.
Speaking against the call for Nigeria’s disintegration, the vice president called on citizens to consider the importance of national unity.
According to him, the country is more than a sum of its many parts and its diversity as ethnic diversity, cultural diversity and religious diversity are value-addition for the nation.
“Differences should not mean division. It is essential for us to establish a culture of tolerance, open-mindedness and acceptance of people of all cultures and creeds.
“There is unity to be found even in the face of such differences.
“There is a `Nigerianness’ that binds us all, there is a shared commitment – no matter how suppressed – to build a better Nigeria for ourselves and future generations.
“It is who we are, it is in our very beings, that love of country, that aspiration to do better,” the vice president said.