By Aishat Babatunde
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has said the existence of Nigeria as a single entity regardless of its vast diversity remains non-negotiable.
Speaking on Sunday at the Interdenominational Church Service for the 2021 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration, held at the National Christian Centre, Abuja, Osinbajo said the country is stronger together than apart in spite of its dense ethnic groupings and religious differences.
According to the VP who was represented by Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, understanding, brotherliness, accommodation and patriotism must be exhibited to restore peace across the country.
He urged Nigerians to rededicate themselves to the ideals of national unity and peaceful co-existence.
“Nigerians must at every opportunity insist that every great multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation has, through thick and thin, fought to realize the great dividends of diversity and pluralism,” Osinbajo said.
“The struggle to ensure a more perfect federation is a lifelong enterprise to which each generation must resolutely commit.”
Ethnic tensions have surfaced in the last few years with calls for a separate southeastern state, known as Biafra resonate with Boko Haram insurgency seeking an Islamic state in the northeast with the latter causing deaths of thousands of people and forcing about two million Nigerians fleeing to neighbouring countries.
Critics have blamed the separatist calls on the government’s nepotistic approach to handling the nation’s welfare and security.
Some weeks ago, Matthew Kukah, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, accused President Muhammadu Buhari of formulating a northern hegemony.
Kukah said there could have been a coup if a non-northern Muslim president tried a fraction of what Buhari did.
“There is no way any non-Northern Muslim president could have done a fraction of what President Buhari has done by his nepotism and gotten away with it,” Kukah said.
“There would have been a military coup a long time ago or we would have been at war.”
In reaction, the Nigerian government said such comment could trigger unintended consequences, cautioning religious leaders not to stir disunity and hatred in the country.
Commitment To Unity, Mark Of Honour For Fallen Heroes
The Vice President stressed the need for Nigerians to show more commitment to the unity of the nation and the task of building a better society as a mark of honour for the sacrifices of the men and women of the Armed Forces.
He noted that the departed heroes and heroines of the Armed Forces “fought to preserve the freedom of the nations of the world from totalitarianism in the First and Second World Wars; to keep our nation and its people as one in the civil war.
“Their (fallen heroes) sacrifices embody ultimate patriotism as they laid down their lives in the line of duty,” Osinbajo said while paying tribute to the departed men and women of the nation’s Armed Forces.
Among many others, he recalled the heroism of the late Tolulope Arotile, who made history in October 2019, when she was winged as Nigeria’s first female combat helicopter pilot in the 55 years of existence of the Nigerian Air Force.
He said, “although her young life was cut short in very unfortunate circumstances, Tolulope lived her dream to join the Nigerian military and along with colleagues from all parts of this nation, to defend the territorial integrity, peace and security of this nation.”
According to him, “drawn from all across the country, these brave men and women of the Armed Forces have made our nation proud and their lives show us what it means to be patriots”.
“Each one of them reminds us of the timeless words of our national pledge: “to be faithful, loyal and honest, to serve Nigeria with all our strength, to defend her unity and uphold her honour and glory.”
He noted that the Nigerian Army had contributed to peacebuilding in various countries across the globe too.
Support For Military Personnel, Families Of Fallen Heroes
While Boko-haram militants have now focused on attacking troops, raiding bases and laying ambush on military convoys, President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged that the Nigeria Armed Forces will operate with the best modern warfare equipment, with welfare issues receiving utmost attention to combat the insurgency.
“We are quite aware that it is our responsibility to provide a conducive environment that is devoid of security threats.
”I want to re-assure Nigerians that security being one of the pillars of this administration will continue to be at the forefront until peace and security are restored in the country,’’ Buhari said on Friday during the Jumuat service ahead of the remembrance day.
Last October, the president launched the 2021 Armed Forces Remembrance Day (AFRD) Emblem and Appeal Find.
Buhari stressed that his administration would not relent in providing welfare for the families of the fallen heroes.