Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo said yesterday that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government was not deaf to grievances in parts of the country.
According to him, the federal government will address them as far as those nursing such grievances express them with grace.
This was the Highlights of the series of consultations the acting president had with leaders from the North, Southeast and the media in the last two weeks.
The consultative meetings were convened to provide a platform for frank and open discussions between concerned stakeholders and Nigerians public on issues relating to the unity, peace and security of country.
A statement by media aide to the acting president, Laolu Akande, noted that, while this set of consultations were concluded last week, the presidency will continue to actively engage with different segments of the Nigerian population at different stages and format in the near future.
He quoted Osinbajo as stating: “There is a point where a line has to be drawn, and that is when conversations or agitations degenerate into hateful rhetoric, where the narrative descends into pejorative name-calling, expressions of outright prejudice and hatred.
“Let me say that we are not deaf to the legitimate concerns and frustrations arising from around the country. Every part of Nigeria has its own grievances. But these have to be expressed graciously and managed with mutuality rather than with scorn and disdain.”
“All of us have agreed that our nation must remain one… I think that there is clarity as to that one thing, that our country ought to remain, must remain, a united country.”
The acting president noted that it will be wrong for Nigerians to approach their grievances by threatening to disobey the laws or by threatening the integrity of the country.
“I firmly believe that we ought to address these agitations and proclamations urgently and decisively. Burying our heads in the sand and expecting the storms to blow over of their own accord is not an option”, he added.
Akande stated that, while the meetings established common ground on a number of issues, it condemned all the hateful and divisive rhetoric by the concerned groups of Northern and Southeastern youths.
He said the meetings affirmed the primacy of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, which is the ultimate basis for the unity of Nigeria, just as they noted that constitution guarantees freedom of residence and of movement for all Nigerians anywhere in the country, without fear of discrimination or prejudice.
He said the meetings, however, affirmed the need to draw a line between the freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution and the degeneration of such expression into hateful rhetoric, prejudice and hatred.
According to the presidential aide, the meetings resolved that under no circumstances will the government condone or tolerate hate speech in any way or form, even as he said the interactions “affirmed the necessity of confronting all grievances and frustrations head-on, however uncomfortable that might seem now instead of ignoring issues and allowing them to fester.
“(The meetings) affirmed the need for all leaders and elders, regardless of political or ideological persuasion to speak out more forcefully to counter divisive and hate speech and any form of warmongering”, he added.
Hinting that consultations was still ongoing, Akande said “The Federal Government will continue to actively engage with Nigerians of all shades and opinions in its bid to move the country forward on a path of socio-economic development and ultimate greatness”.