ACTING President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, warned state governors against playing politics with national security, especially in the wake of the raging threat as a result of the quit notice given to the Igbo to vacate the north before October 1 by a group of northern youths.
The Acting President also reiterated that the constitution guaranteed all Nigerians to live in any parts of the country without molestations, and warned people talking carelessly in a way that would threaten the unity of the country.
Osinbajo, who gave the warning when he met with the 36 governors at the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, further noted that the constitution guaranteed freedom of expressions but said it must be done in a decent way.
He said: “There is a part of all of these agitations and statements that are made that is fair and may well be considered as freedom of expression.
‘’Clearly, we are all allowed to express our views and there is a part of this that is expected in any healthy and robust democracy, people arguing and disagreeing sometimes even silently.
“But borderline has to be drawn and that is when conversations or agitations degenerate into hateful rhetoric where the narratives degenerate to pejorative name-calling, expressions of outright prejudice and hatred.
“We must sometimes ensure that even in the use of words, we are careful essentially because the kinds of problems that we have seen, the kinds of conflagration that we have seen all over the world even in our own society…..the use of words. Some words can carry a lot of weights and so important that responsible use of words, the responsible expression of dissent is taken as priority.
“We must not allow the careless use of words, the careless expressions that may degenerate into conflicts and may degenerate into crisis.
“As I said, our constitution guarantee freedom of expression and we are a people who like to talk and we talk and we express ourselves very loudly, we express ourselves in an agitated fashion in some cases but it is important for us to recognise that it is those same words that can cause conflagration, can cause alarm and can ultimately lead to calamity
“We must be careful with how we express ourselves. What we have seen in recent times is that some of the languages that have been used and some of the expressions have tended to degenerate badly and I think we must begin to speak up against some of these things and ensure that we protect our democracy and our nation from the kinds of rhetoric that may not just divide us but ultimately result in a great deal of trouble.”
“From all of the consultations, we have all agreed on certain principles. The first is that we have all agreed that Nigeria’s unity should never be taken for granted and that no one wants to see us go down the path of bloodshed or war.
“We also agreed on the primacy of the Nigerian constitution, that 1999 constitution is the basis for our unity. It is the basis for the legal contract that exists between all of us as citizens of this country.
“The constitution guarantees equality of all Nigerians before the law and the freedom to live and work anywhere in the country in peace and safety without any fear of discrimination or prejudice.
‘’That is the guarantee of our constitution and that is the reason the federal government and state government must be committed to ensuring that every Nigerian citizens lives and works wherever he pleases peacefully and securely.’’
Speaking to State House correspondents, the governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajumobi, said it had been unanimously agreed that the unity of the country was sacrosanct, non-negotiable, adding that they all also agreed to work together to educate people.
He said, “Any time you have agitation, usually there will be poverty, there will be unemployment, there will be hardship, so we should address fundamentally these areas of poverty, unemployment and hardship.
“Nigerians are by nature a united people, nobody cares whether you are from the north, south or the east. There unity must be there and we cannot play with the unity of this country. The consensus has been that there must be unity.’’