Acting President Yemi Osinbajo held meetings with traditional rulers from the north at the Old State House Banquet Hall, Abuja yesterday June 19, 2017.
The meeting was part of Osinbajo’s peaceful intervention into the eviction threat that was issued against Igbo residents in the northern region by the Coalition of Northern Youths (CNY) on June 6.
He met with the rulers to calm ethnic agitations and exchanges between groups in the North and South-East at the Iftar dinner.
While addressing them, the Acting President preached for unity in the country especially in the face of hostile rhetorics that theKaduna declaration has caused over the past two weeks.
“Let me first say how honoured I am by the visit of all of your royal highnesses today for this Iftar. And just as you-(Sultan of Sokoto) said, it involved a bit of movement back and forth; the Sultan just arrived this morning from a trip abroad and he is still able to make it here.
“So, I am really grateful for your consenting to come to join us at this Iftar but also to wait till tomorrow despite the plans that you may have made.
“Our nation requires the kind of maturity, the kind of leadership that you have displayed and I want to thank you for that leadership and for that maturity.
“It is heartwarming to know that we have leaders especially traditional leaders, who are prepared to make sacrifices, who are prepared to make concessions and compromises for the good of our nation and I want to thank you for that great leadership.
“In particular, I want to thank the Sultan for always being there, for always being ready to offer advice and in many times to offer an alternative view to what might appear to be the popular view and I am extremely grateful to you for all of that support.
“The way that we see things developing around our nation today (obviously as you said, even within families, you have disputes, you have controversies) is worrisome.
“All of us have however agreed that our nation must remain one. When we spoke yesterday with traditional rulers from the South-East; despite the issues that were raised here and there. I think that there is clarity as to that one thing, that our country ought to remain, must remain a united country.
“Just as I said to them yesterday, a lot of blood has been shed on account of the unity of our country and our faithfulness even to the lives of those who have made the supreme sacrifice to this country, demands that we do everything on our part to keep this country together.
“And in any event, the greatest nations in the world are those nations who have the size as well as the human resources in particular to make the best of that size, and I think our nation has that and the mere fact that we have such a large nation and so well-endowed, in terms of human resources.
“I think that we are in the best position not only to be truly great but to ensure that all of our people benefit from the greatness of our country.
“So, I want to thank you again for your kindness and for doing us this honour of attending this Iftar and for sharing the love of the season.
“I pray that the almighty God will bless you and keep your kingdoms safe and also extend your own lives so that you will rule your kingdoms for long and you will rule your kingdoms in good health.
“Thank you,” he said.
The coalition of 16 different groups, which includes Arewa Citizens Action for Change, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Arewa Youth Development Foundation, Arewa Students Forum and Northern Emancipation Network, promised in their June 6 statement to execute measures to carry out their declaration if Igbos remained in the north past the October 1 deadline.
The statement by the coalition has been met with widespread criticism, including an arrest order from Kaduna state governor,Nasir El-Rufai days later.
After meeting with northern political and religious leaders last week, Osinbajo warned that those responsible for the ultimatum risked jail terms as they violated the country’s laws.