Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday described the discrimination and alienation of Nigerians based on their state of origin as another form of apartheid.
Osinbajo, according to a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, stated this at the National Social Cohesion Dialogue organized by the Africa Polling Institute at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja.
He noted that many Nigerians were denied jobs and admission into educational institutions based on their states of origin.
He stressed that all Nigerians have the right to live and work in any state in the country.
Osinbajo said: “In many quarters, there are feelings of alienation and exclusion. To this point, we must recognize the ways in which we perpetuate institutional discrimination and cause people to see their identities as weapons for procuring opportunity, often at the expense of others.
“We see this whenever Nigerians are denied opportunity on the basis of their state of origin or because they are ‘non- indigenes’. We see it when a Nigerian that has been resident in a state all his life is suddenly excluded from admission into an educational institution or an employment opportunity because he is not considered an ‘indigene.
“All Nigerians have a constitutional right to live, work and enjoy their lives in peace and safety under the law. The classification of Nigerians as ‘indigenes’ and ‘non-indigenes’ is a form of apartheid and contradicts our declared aspirations towards equality and unity.
“Our Constitution enjoins government to ‘secure full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the Federation’ and this is an imperative that we must commit to across all tiers of government. All that should matter in evaluating ourselves is where we live and fulfill our civic obligations.
“This is why when we launched our Social Investment Programmes, the eligible beneficiaries were selected based on their states of residence and none was discriminated against on any basis. This was in keeping with the idea that the only true path to national progress lies in broadening access to opportunity for all Nigerians without qualification.
“Our destinies have become so interlinked as to be inseparable. This is why this administration is investing heavily in transportation infrastructure – road, rail, sea and river ports – to reduce the distances between our people and link localities to markets and enable trade, travel, and tourism.
“Our constitution guarantees a full portfolio of civil liberties and it is the responsibility of the government at all levels to give life to these provisions. For example, states should as a matter of deliberate policy ensure that the freedom of worship and provide spaces in which citizens can lawfully erect places of worship.”