In situations of conflict, including ethnic and religious tensions, leaders must be willing to make sacrifices even at the risk of their popularity in order to attain long-lasting resolutions, peace, and progress, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN has said.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this Monday when he received on a courtesy visit to the Presidential Villa, a delegation from the Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC), led by its Executive Chairman, Mr Disu Kamor.
The Vice President said, “There is a need to understand first of all, that there is no way that we can deal with the tensions between the faiths and ethnicities in Nigeria today unless those in leadership are prepared to make some important sacrifices.
“Those sacrifices are sacrifices even in what you say, how you say it, and then sacrifices also in the acknowledgment of whatever people are saying and the willingness to accept.
“It is very important that we don’t diminish the importance of language and respectful non-violent communication so that we are able to keep our discussions at a level that ensures that we don’t degenerate too quickly to violence.”
Citing the examples of the sacrifices made by the late South African leader, Nelson Mandela and Imam Abubakar Abdullahi of Barkin Ladi, in Plateau state, Osinbajo said “we can all talk nicely and say the right things but unless people are prepared to make some concessions which may cost them popularity within their own group, we cannot move forward.
Nelson Mandela, who had spent such a long time in jail under Apartheid before he became President still pushed for a South Africa where even his tormentors got equal treatment like his fellow black South Africans. In Nigeria more recently, Imam Abubakar Abdullahi in 2018, put his life on the line to save the lives of over 200 Christians who took refuge in his mosque when some gunmen attacked the village of Nghar Yelwa in Barkin Ladi, Plateau State and sought to kill the Christians, he said.
In addition to leaders making sacrifices, the Vice President said the notion of respectful dialogue is also crucial especially “at this time”.
His words: “the whole idea of promoting respect for other faiths and people of other ethnicities and beliefs is a very important thing especially now in our country with what we are seeing.”
Earlier in his presentation, the leader of the group, Mr Disu Kamor said MPAC has been involved in programmes and activities aimed at promoting cohesion among people of different faiths over the past decade.