The Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, has said Nigeria’s diversity ought to be seen as a blessing because “the true wealth of any nation is its human capital.”
He said having discovered that diversity was a driver of economic growth and development, countries like the United States of America and Canada had opened their doors to talented immigrants from different parts of the world.
Osibanjo said it was also this understanding that made a former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, to look beyond Lagos State while constituting his cabinet in 1999.
He said this decision by Tinubu was instrumental in the economic prosperity of Lagos State since then.
Osinbajo said this in a lecture titled, “Promoting national cohesion as a means of promoting progress and prosperity,” which he delivered on Tuesday as part of events marking the 70th anniversary of the Lagos Country Club.
Using Tinubu’s case as an example, Osinbajo argued that Nigeria had a lot to benefit from its plurality and urged the citizens to reject the notion that the country’s diversity was its problem.
He said, “It is clear that when we create spaces for migratory talents to flourish without discrimination, there is an economic multiplier that results in an ever-increasing radius of growth.
“Perhaps there is a little more to the prosperity of Lagos. If you look for example, even in contemporary times, the conscious decision of Bola Tinubu, then governor of Lagos State, to appoint commissioners from everywhere in Nigeria, in my view, is partly responsible for the peerless progress that Lagos State has made over the years from 1999.
“In 1999, he appointed Mr Wale Edun from Ogun State as Commissioner for Finance; Rauf Aregbesola from Osun State as Commissioner for Works; Fola Arthur- Worrey from Delta State as Commissioner for Lands; Ben Akhabueze from Anambra State as Commissioner for Budget and Planning; Lai Mohammed, who was then Chief of Staff, from Kwara State; and I, from Ogun State, as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.
“Of course, he was opposed by Lagos indigenes, who felt that by virtue of indigeneship, they were qualified to be commissioners and should be appointed and the argument is always valid that ‘why should anybody come from their own state and be commissioner in our own state?’
“But during that period because the then governor sought for the best talents that he could find, he didn’t restrict the search to the indigenes of Lagos State, Lagos undertook fiscal, judicial and environmental reforms that have made the state a model for the rest of the country.
“If you look at what has happened, even just looking at fiscal reform alone, today, Lagos State’s IGR is greater than the combined total of 31 states of Nigeria.
“How did that happen? A fiscal reform took place because Tinubu took the best minds that he could find. If that best mind was in Anambra State, Tinubu took it.”