Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; All Progressives Congress, APC, National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and others have called for unity among Nigerians as the panacea to defeating insecurity and ethnicity plaguing the nation.
They spoke at the launch of a Memoir written by former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba to mark his 80th birthday, at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
Speaking at the event, Osinbajo said the subject of the book was the tragedy of ethnic jingoism and tribal issue being played by politicians to divide the nation along ethnic line, lamenting that ethic and religious prejudice had been a problem, which led to the civil war of 1967.
He said the story of Osoba told us how political elite played the ethnic card to steal the mandate of the acclaimed winner of the June 12, 1992 Presidential election, late Moshood Abiola.
Osinbajo stated that the then National Republican Convention, NRC, played the ethnic card in ensuring that Abiola did not get his mandate after the annulment by making it looked like the struggle was for the Southwest zone alone, which gave the military the thick skin to stand by the annulment, adding that ethnic card had been the problem of the nation.
Osinbajo added that politicians played the ethnic cards during the build up to the 2015 presidential election by branding President Muhammadu Buhari a sponsor of Boko Haram in a bid to Islamise Nigeria, adding that as the threat of Boko Haram was being curtailed, people came to realise that they were being deceived by politicians.
The Vice President described terrorism as an evil that must be seen as the common enemy of all religion, saying that Boko Haram, ISIS and the rest fed on hate, poverty to exploit the people, hiding under the tenet of Islam to perpetrate atrocities, as “they are satanic.”
“The challenge is for us to recognize this problem and destroy this evil, every evil can be defeated by the power of unity. The book speaks on power of building bridges, especially in a nation like Nigeria where ethnic card holds sway. We must never underestimate the power of interaction,” he said.
Speaking, Tinubu described former Head of State, Abubakar Abdulsalami, who was the chairman of the occasion as one of the few trusted soldiers, recalling a night spent with him when Abiola wanted him to intervene in the annulment.
“He told Abiola that he won’t be able to intervene because he was not a politician. He was sincere,” he said.
According to Tinubu, “Osoba is very honest and open, the story you don’t want other people to know, don’t tell him. Even when he was sick, his main concern was the struggle for Nigeria and the APC.”
The former Lagos State governor stressed the importance of unity, lamenting that instead of using “our diversity for prosperity, we use it for division.”
Senate President, Ahmed Lawan congratulated Osoba for the memoir, saying that the book was full of lessons for Nigerians as the country is rich in diversity.
“This diversity is meant to be our strength, Nigerians needs unity and faith in our country, we at the National Assembly has shown what we can achieve with unity which we displayed in our election recently. Senators across ethnic device voted for us, Nigeria must unite.
“We must reduce suspicion and mistrust, no country can develop with disunity, we can be different, as leaders, we must demonstrate quality of good leadership for trust to occur. We are in one country and are meant to be one, we cannot continue to think as if we are in different nation, we must stand in brotherhood.” Lawan admonished.
Speaking at the event, former Presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party, PDP, Babagana Kingibe said all what Osoba said in the book about him were correct.
He described Nigeria as a huge elephant with several components, saying that all components of Nigeria must unite in diversity for the progress of the nation.
In his opening address, Abdulsalami on Nigerians to unite to fight rampaging insecurity in the country, saying that all hands must be on deck to ensure peace and security in the country.
“I have read the book, the book is rich, informative, entertaining and educative. We should put our hands on deck to ensure peace and security in Nigeria,” he said.
The former head of state stated that he had known Osoba since the 60s when he was still a young officer and that they were good friends despite having several things in common.
He said despite he is a Muslims and Osoba a Christian, they enjoyed good relationship from the onset, but added that they had several things in common, one of which was having thee interest of the nation at heart.
Abdulsalami said he and Osoba possessed deep interest in the affairs of the nation and that they both wanted the best for the county.
“We want Nigeria to remain a blessing for Africa, want Nigeria to move higher world wide, want Nigerians to believe in their nation. With self-belief and trust in each other these are achievable. Many Nigerians should cultivate mutually relationship,” he said.
Speaking, Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu said former President Olusegun Obasanjo is the number one problem of Nigeria.
Akiolu said two days ago, he read Osoba’s interview in a newspaper where he said Obasanjo deceived them which was why they lost their seats in 2003.
The monarch said he thanked God that former Governor of Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu did not fall into the trap and won his re-election.
He said Obasanjo should be listened to because of deception. “Obasanjo is Nigeria’s number one problem, Nigeria will not break,” he said.
The celebrant, Osoba, said his major battle in life was survival in the hands of Sergeant Roger, who was ordered the despotic ruler, late Sani Abacha to kill him.
He said Osinbajo was the prosecutor then and that he knew everything about the matter.
Some dignitaries at the event were Retired Gen. Alani Akinrinade, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, Femi Pedro, Prince Dapo Abiodun, Ogun Governor and wife; Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo; Senate President, Ahmed Lawan; Oba Rilwan Akiolu; Lagos Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje and Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson.
There were also the Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Ondo State Governor, Rotimi, Akeredolu; former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Ggenga Daniel, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, Kemi Nelson, Rotimi Amaechi, Oba Otudeko, Rasak Okoya, Bamidele Opeyemi, Kola Abiola, Tunde Bakare; Abiola Ajimobi, Bisi Akande, Frank Kokori, Donald Duke, Dele Momodu and Henry Ajomale.