The Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) has stridently condemned what he called weaponization of ethnic or religious prejudices for political purposes in the February and March national elections.
Osinbajo described it as a lethal potentially destructive situation.
He gave his assessment of the 2023 elections while delivering a lecture at the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos, Plateau State on Monday.
The event is part of NIPSS Good Governance Lecture Series.
Persecondnews recalls that the elections were characterized by violence, killings, ethnic profiling, slurs and bathing as well as threats.
Osinbajo said: “When ethnic or religious prejudices are weaponizedVP O sinbajo for political purposes, we are confronted with a lethal potentially destructive situation.
“These elections witnessed the exploitation by political actors of the fears and anxieties of people about so-called outsiders.
“Any attempts to deny people the right to vote in any locality on the basis that they do not belong in that place is condemnable in the strongest possible terms.
“The most prosperous places are countries that have learned to harness diversity while building ever more inclusive institutions “
“Discrimination against people on the basis of their identity is explicitly condemned by most legal codes, including our own Constitution.”
Still harping on the effects of polarization of the country by politicians, Osinbajo said: “Where the forces of primordial division and polarization are harnessed for the sake of electoral gain, the venom of such devices remains and continues to poison communal relations, setting neighbour against neighbour.
“We have witnessed the catastrophic consequences of the political weaponization of prejudice in places such as Rwanda”
Highlighting the tension and distrust generated by the last elections, Osinbajo said: “But there is still a tension that exists between this new Nigeria and the old Nigeria as understood by a generation that is much more accustomed to political mobilization on the basis of identity.
“But we must ennoble and validate the Nigeria that our young people are consciously or unconsciously building. This is the future we want.
“Let us never forget that although we may speak different languages, belong to different tribes and profess diverse creeds; we are bound, above all else, by the language of a shared hope, by our common humanity as Nigerians, and a supreme faith in the possibility of our country.”
On the need to keep national growth in focus, Osinbajo called for the creation of inclusive communities and strengthening social cohesion.
“If we are truly committed to economic growth, then we must also be committed to creating inclusive communities and strengthening social cohesion.
“Put another way, the only thing that grows in a climate of tribal hatred is poverty. This is why justice, healing, and a stronger commitment to the ideals of integration are so important,” Persecondnews quotes the Vice-President as saying.