Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, at the valedictory session of the National Economic Council (NEC), in Abuja, yesterday, advised state governors to mind their utterances, as they are capable of stoking fires of ethnicity and religious conflicts.
He said most people dissipate energy and stoke the embers of disunity and ethnicity, and advised the governors to openly condemn those who engage in such acts and resist them because the country does not belong to them only.
In the same vein, he advised the governors to rise above the temptation of taking advantage of the country’s weaknesses in order to maintain peace and welfare of citizens in the states.
Osinbajo also told outgoing governors not to see their exit from power as an opportunity to run personal businesses or sleep for long hours.
He said they should, instead, deploy the opportunity of the period to further serve the country in various capacities, using their influence as former governors, for instance, to contribute to healthcare and education.
According to the vice president, donor agencies would be glad to work with such former governors, especially those with track records of healthcare provision and other humanitarian needs.
He said: “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.
“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 – 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 this experience and leadership not to now settle down to a life of business or perhaps of enjoyment or sleeping for eight hours.
“We need this time for action.”
Outgoing Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, warned that if Nigeria failed to plan for the future, the country would be sitting on a time bomb and the aftermath would be catastrophic in the next few years.
“I will say, yes, government has done tremendously well, in terms of expanding the economy, through agriculture, by spending over N200 billion, through the Anchor Borrower Programme, but, we need to do more because we all agree that agriculture is the mainstay of this economy.
“It provides over 80 percent of employment.
“So, if N2 trillion can be spent yearly, on oil development, we need to increase our spending on agriculture too.
“With what we are seeing as governors, especially from the zone where I come from, the rate of population growth, if nothing is done to address it, I am afraid, Mr. Chairman, we are sitting on a time bomb. And, that’s the truth.”