2023: Jettison federal character, tribe, religion in your choice of who governs – Osinbajo

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

Ahead of the 2023 general elections, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged Nigerians to jettison federal character, tribe and religion in their choice of who should lead them.

This is even as he said that there are a lot of opportunities for the citizens to actualise their enviable potentials.

According to a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity

Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, Osinbajo spoke Tuesday evening in Abuja at a dinner in honour of the 2020 and 2021 Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) recipients – Prof. Olayinka Olutoye, late Prof. Charles Ejike Chidume (2020); and Prof. Godwin Osakpemwoye Samuel Ekhaguere (2021).

According to the Vice President, the Awards’ representation over the years was a telling reminder of the need to pick Nigeria’s ‘first eleven’ for national tasks, irrespective of federal quota, tribe or religion.

Osinbajo added that, the glittering cast of Nigerians that have received the Award for over 40 years reflected more, not only by the variety of achievement, but also by their diversity of origin.

He said: “The Award selection process is entirely indifferent to the confessional persuasions, ethnic origins or partisan allegiances of the recipients. It is sensitive only to the rarity and quality of their accomplishments.”

Osinbajo added that the essence of rewarding hard work and talent, rather than sentiments and favouritism, in public service and every area of national life, was in order to build a more advanced nation.

The VP said: “Today’s awardees and their predecessors represent the zenith of accomplishment; their exploits tell us what we are truly capable of as a people, and the heights to which we would soar if we would set ourselves free from the gravitational pull of parochialism and prejudice.

“If the pantheon of Order of Merit laureates reflects a representative meritocracy, is it not possible to apply the same standards in selecting those that we choose for leadership at all levels? Democracy grants us, not only the right to freely choose our leaders, but the opportunity to choose the best of us irrespective of any sectional or sectarian considerations.

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“If we are to truly make their standards of accomplishment a mainstream phenomenon and our defining national trait, then we must apply the same principles that informed their selection in recruiting those that will represent this nation in every endeavour, whether it is in sports or the public service.”

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According to him, Nigeria has tremendous human capital and talents across all its region, and we must ensure that we provide opportunities on a mass scale to enable all of our citizens actualize their highest potential.

Osinbajo added that the idea of merit and representation (by regions) are not mutually exclusive concepts, because “the Nigerian genius for achievement” can be found nationwide.

“Often in our national discourse, we tend to juxtapose the idea of merit with that of representation as though they are mutually exclusive concepts and it is suggested that there is an inherently natural disparity in the geographical distribution of talent.

“Yet what the distinguished array of laureates from all over our country that have been assembled over the years shows us is that the Nigerian genius for achievement can be found in every corner of our country,” he said.

The VP stated that opportunities must be provided on a mass scale to enable “all of our citizens actualize their highest potential.”

Emphasizing on Nigeria’s human capital potential and the need to pay more attention to the education of the girl-child, the VP stated that “in so doing, we will renew our pantheon of world-beating achievers in every generation and continually rediscover the human capital for perpetual national growth.”

Also speaking, the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, congratulated the Awards Laureates for their overall economic, scientific and technological contributions to the nation’s development.

In his remarks, the Chairman, Governing Board of the Awards, Prof. Shekarau Yakubu Abu, said the Awards recipients have done exceptionally well in their various fields of endeavour.

“The awards are in recognition of Nigerians who have made national and global impact in their various fields. We are very proud of their outstanding contribution to knowledge, to the development of our nation and the world at large,” he stated.

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