Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has reacted elaborately to charges of marginalization from sections of the country thrown at the Buhari administration over alleged bias especially on appointment considerations which have contributed to accentuating Nigeria’s fault lines, labelling such charges as largely false, deceptive, misplaced, and self-serving.
He made these comments while delivering a speech at a seminar organized by the Institute for Security Studies, themed, ‘Unity in Diversity’, held August 2, 2017.
Osinbajo posited that one true proof that reveals the hypocrisy and deceit of the charges of the divisive charges of marginalization is the inclusive representation of all ethnic and religious groups in the list of cases of perpetrators of corruption in Nigeria.
Thus, he stated, “As a matter of fact, I have found and I have repeated this several times that whenever you look at a charge sheet, that is a sheet where people have been charged with an offence especially those who have served one way or the other in the Federal Government of Nigeria, charged with stealing or corruption, you will never find one ethnic group alone represented. You will always find an equal representation of the ethnic groups.
“There is complete unity in this business of stealing. You will also not find one religious group; you will find that there is nobody arguing about religion when it comes to these matters”.
Osinbajo advanced the argument that, “Those who say my ethnic group has been marginalised, my religious group has been marginalised, that they say so for altruistic reasons or altruistic purposes. I want to say that is not necessarily the case”.
The acting president went on to advise Nigerians to ignore the issues of ethnicity and religion when matters of governance are involved just the same way they had seemingly ignored such labels in sports. He said, “The truth of the matter is that where we have won, it is where we have not paid attention to religious or ethnic differences; our football teams – because we want to win we do not ask ourselves questions about whether the people are from one side of the country or from another or whether they are Moslems or Christians or whether they do not believe in God at all.
“All we are interested in is just the score, just win. I want to say that that is exactly where we should be as a nation today. We should just be telling ourselves – just win, just score, it does not matter where you are from so long as you are in government or wherever you are, just win for this nation and we do not want to ask questions of where you are from”.
Osinbajo went on to buttress his point that the fixation of Nigerians on ethnic and religious labels is an unprofitable exercise by revealing that:
“We (the Buhari cabinet) now have one more Christian than Moslems in the Cabinet. But you see, the part of it that even bothered me is that even the Christians, many of them as you can imagine, and I am not even so sure whether or not, what their faith is, on both sides, there are Moslems, I am not so sure what their faith is, there are Christians, I am not even so sure what their faith is, some are not even committed. But the impression is that, the moment a person is appointed, it is almost as if these are militants for their religion. Many of them do not even subscribe fully to their faiths in any way”.
Many analysts who have cited the breach of the federal character principle as the main basis for their criticism of the Buhari administration’s alleged lopsided appointments, would likely disagree with the acting president’s views that such issues do not really matter.
Their main counter-argument may revolve around the fact that contrary to Osinbajo’s views, the issue of equitable representation is backed by law and deemed essential to the preservation of the federal character of the union.
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