Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has expressed that Nigerian leaders must be ready to risk their popularity — like Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president — to promote peace in the country.
He stated this while speaking when he received a delegation of the Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC), on Monday.
Osinbajo stated that leaders must understand the value of respectful non-violent communication in ensuring that conflicts do not degenerate into violence.
The vice-president advised leaders to emulate Mandela and Abdullahi Abubakar — a cleric who saved over 200 Christians during a religious crisis in Plateau state in 2018 — in using their positions to address ethno-religious crises in the country.
“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,” Osinbajo said, according to a statement by Laolu Akande, his media aide.
“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.
“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.
“These are stories of people who are not only political or religious leaders but just ordinary people, doing the right thing. Unless we are prepared to not just talk about it but to make an open display, first of all, of those who are doing the right things.
“But more importantly, challenging our leaders to say the right things and to be prepared to risk some popularity in order to do so, then we will just be wasting a lot of time.”