Ethnocentrism, intolerance dangerous to democracy – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has warned that one of the most profound dangers to Nigeria’s democracy and freedom is the divisive application of ethnic and religious diversities.
Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in his address to service chiefs and graduates of the Senior Course 38 at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna State, at the weekend, Buhari said as defenders of the nation’s territorial integrity, the armed forces must resist and reject ethno-centricism and religious intolerance.
“These evils threaten our very existence as a sovereign and indivisible nation,” he said.
He noted that being in the military today required more than just carrying weapons, saying the officer must be a public intellectual and thinker “versatile, dynamic and capable of introspection.”
“Our society is more complex and our world is more difficult than ever before. The nature of warfare is also vastly different, consequently, the officer of today cannot just be soldier, in any event, being in the military today requires more than just carrying weapons,” he said.
According to the president, Nigeria needs men and women in the armed forces who are prepared to make the sacrifices and self-constraints that are crucial to a strong society.
Buhari said the armed forces had the responsibility of fighting against all forms of ethnic and religious prejudices because they were probably the most visible symbols of national unity and cohesion.
He said building a new Nigeria required a new tribe of men and women of all faiths who are of diverse tribes and ethnicities, but firmly committed to a country run on high values of integrity hard work, justice and love.
He said contemporary military warfare, especially the influence of technology like drones, had posed a huge challenge, hence the need for the military to develop the right strategies to deal with “this future before us.”
“Our nation at this time needs an elite consisting of professionals from the military, businessmen, politicians, religious leaders and all others who believe that a new Nigeria is possible. This nation needs an elite prepared to stick together, fight corruption and other national ills side by side; an elite who insists on justice even where our friends are at the receiving end,” he said.
Vice President Osinbajo, while answering questions from newsmen after the event, said: “Terrorism is a major blemish on the nation and our character. It’s important to continue to speak against it and to have concerted efforts on the part of all to deal with it.”
He said given the nature of the unconventional operations of Boko Haram insurgents, the military should devise appropriate strategies to combat terrorism.
191 Nigerian officers from the military, paramilitary and civilians, including eight African foreign military officers as well as a South Korean officer graduated from the college.
The Women choirs of the First ECWA Church Ung-Maichibi, performing at the Church Service in Kaduna yesterday.