Sunday Ode, Abuja.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday admonished the outgoing governors not to go sleep their lives away as they bow out of office next week.
Osinbajo spoke at the valedictory session of the National Economic Council (NEC) over which he presided, warning that the governors would not be doing themselves any good if they wasted their time in enjoyment or sleeping all the time.
He told them that they should rather use their experience to the advantage of their people.
Osinbajo’s advice followed a remark made by former Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, who had told the Council that while in office, he could barely have four hours of sleep in a day compared to now when he sleeps for eight hours.
He said: “I should advise that you should use your influence and reach to the advantage of Nigerian people. You have seen and heard for yourselves the enormity of our national problems. Very few people have the advantage to see closely as we do the issues that concern our country, the issues that even concern our different states. We here have that unique advantage.
“So, I think that we can help in one way or the other, we can do something in our states and other states in a way of advocacy or action on education and health care in particular and jobs.
“I think is important for those of us who have had the benefit of all of these experience and leadership not to now settle down to a life of business or perhaps of enjoyment or sleeping for eight hours. I need this time for action.”
The Vice President, while thanking the members of the council for their cooperation, which he said enabled it to record its modest achievements, praised the them for the cooperation among themselves.
According to him, “I think more importantly the cooperation that you have shown among yourselves is what has helped us a great deal and this of course has been across party lines and across geopolitical zones, across divides of every gathering.”
The Vice President noted that the people were looking up to the elite for guidance and therefore warned them from actions capable of stoking ethnic and religious tensions.
He stated: “The privilege of executive leadership at this level is the one only few of us will ever have. When I say few of us, it is few of us in our nation. I have said at a previous forum, 36 governors and their deputies, one President and one Vice President we will be 74 in all men and women of a nation of 200 million. It is on this elite group that the destiny and future of all our people rest.
“In the next few years our population will double with the attendant challenges of jobs, education, health care, security and infrastructure. Every nation that has moved its people from misery to prosperity has depended heavily in fact almost completely on the political elite.
“Our people have nowhere else to look or to go, it is as they say, at the collective table that the bulk stops.
“Many of us have led our states for these many years, no one needs to advise us on the importance of unity, on importance of tempering utterances with wisdom, with moderation and conserve.”
He expressed concern for “those who are the usual victims of the conflicts that are caused by hate speech, the conflicts that are caused by careless and reckless statements.”
Osinbajo added: “The ordinary Nigerian has no problems with his brothers and sisters of different tribes and religions, they share the same issues, they just want a decent existence, they want food on the table, they want good shelter and security of lives and livelihoods.
“Unfortunately and frequently our political elite sometimes, out of advancing political agendas or simply seeking relevance, recklessly stoke the fires of ethnicity and religious conflicts.
“We as leaders have a duty to keep the peace and welfare of our states, we must not only rise above the temptation to take advantage of our country’s fault lines, we must definitely condemn and restrain those who do so.
“We must insist that this country truly belongs to all of us especially those who cannot defend themselves.”
Six governors selected from each of the geo-political zone spoke on behalf of their colleagues from their areas.
They lauded Osinbajo’s style of leadership of the council which they agreed created unity across party lines
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