Osinbajo tasks elite on bridging gap between haves and have-nots

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged the elite to make sacrifices towards bridging the gap between those who have and those that do not have.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. [Presidency ]

The lecture titled, “Elites and National Unity”, was delivered by Prof. Oladapo Afolabi, Former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.

The vice president, who made references to Afolabi’s lecture, submitted that the question of national unity, unity of diverse tribes, faiths and classes in society was not limited to Nigeria.

“We are not the only country that is diverse in tribes, faith or in classes; so this is not a peculiar problem; we are not the only country that has this type of problem.

"In fact, the latest example of account of such diversity was Rwanda-where over a million people were slaughtered.

“And I think that I should make the point very well; the way by which a country becomes united is only possible if there is a deliberate effort by law, by policies, by conventions to create the basis for that unity.

“The components of that basis include the following: equity, justice, the rule of law, accountability–enforcement of consequences for bad behavior–equal access to opportunity, a fair basis for government appointments, intentional programmes for the poor, weak, vulnerable and those who cannot work."

Osinbajo said that the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programmes and other welfare programmes were meant to address societal gaps.

He concurred with Afolabi’s position on a lack of ideological framework for the political parties.

The vice president said that there was need to address the inequality in the society before it triggered crisis.

“I think that something that is clear is that there is a deep tension that exists not between tribes and faiths, but between those who have and those who do not have; the gap between the elite and those who are not.

“And that gap is one that we have to look at very carefully because, we sometimes want to cover it up with tribe or religion but there is a real tension between those who have and those who do not have.

“The poor in Jibiya in katsina,Binji, Bodinga(Sokoto) Zurmi, Maradun, Talata Mafara, in Zamfara, or Aniocha North or South, in Delta, have the same problem food shelter and clothing.

“So, the question that elite have to answer is how do we ensure there is equity? How do we ensure that there are equal opportunities? How do we ensure that this tension do not blow over.?

“I think elitism as Afolabi points out is confers privilege, rights that no one else has, but privilege ordinarily comes with responsibility, what the French so perceptively describe as “Noblese Oblige– the obligations or responsibility of privilege.’

According to Osinbajo, the first responsibility of privilege is sacrifice.

Citing Afolabi’s lecture, Osinbajo said that the etymology of leadership meant go forth to die–the readiness to sacrifice.

“Now the temptation is for the elite to seek benefit only.

“That is counterfeit leadership; so, for example there is a National programme for young people, NPOWER, job opportunities for 500,000 young men and women.

“There are two options, we allow the programme to run fairly and justly apply from wherever you are and based on agreed criteria you get the job.

“But the alternative is for the elite, those in government to say, let us take slots; so I give the jobs to my supporters or family; because I am in government or elected leadership I have a right to benefits one of those is to decide who gets what,’’ he said.

The vice president said that the elite failed in their responsibility, the society eventually failed also.

Other speakers at the public lecture included the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and the Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation who gave the vote of thanks.

The event attracted members of the Federal Executive Council, service chiefs, members of the diplomatic corps among others.

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