By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Abuja – Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says there is need for Nigeria’s policy elite to contribute to matters of national concern and public discourse, especially on issues of national unity.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Wednesday, said that the vice president, made the appeal when he received the executive council of the Alumni Association of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Osinbajo said that while politicians would be in office for a time, the policy and intellectual elite would always be around and therefore should not leave public discourse to politicians.
“I think that this question of national unity is one that we must look at very carefully and must proffer ideas and solutions to issues.
“Even if we are not in government, we as intellectual elite are supposed to ensure that, in terms of direction, we are heard; it is up to us to advise and to be as vocal as possible, and we have so many channels to give advice.
“If you look at the quality of debates or sometimes the acrimony with which debates on national unity are proffered, you will find that unless something is done, a time will come when it will be impossible to have any kind of decent debate.
“Those who are extremists, will take over the public space, because those who have a stake in ensuring that the country is united are not saying anything.
“So, I think it is very important that we, as policy elite, develop a position; there is no question at all that if we keep quiet and nothing is said, the space will be taken over by those who have not had the chance of seriously considering the issues.”
Osinbajo lauded NIPSS’s contribution to reforms across sectors of the economy.
He said the absence of enlightened contributions to important public debates about what government had done and should do was worrisome.
Osinbajo said that a look at some of the works that had been done in NIPSS showed that a lot of thinking had been done.
“You know all the contours, all the problems, the issues and all that, so you are able to approach issues from a much more nuanced and seasoned point of view.
“So, I think the institute especially the alumni association has a very crucial role to play in moderating public discourse and also in proffering ideas to solving problems,’’ he said.
The vice president also spoke on efforts made by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to address poverty, insecurity and other issues confronting Nigerians.
He said a lot of the initiatives undertaken by the administration especially under the Social Investment Programmes– the school feeding, the cash transfers, and others, were geared towards addressing the issue of poverty in the country.
Earlier in his remarks, Mohammed Abubakar, President of the NIPSS Alumni Association, and former Inspector General of Police, commended the vice president’s interest in the progress of the institute.
He appealed for more support to enable the institute to proffer more solutions to the nation’s challenges.