The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, on Thursday 4th July met with Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka at the latter’s home in Abeokuta to discuss recent developments in the country with a warning that Nigeria can not afford another civil war.
“All efforts must therefore be made to anticipate and douse socio-political flare-ups that advance the chances of a recurrence of such a conflict, no matter how reduced in scale, its devastating effects on Nigerian humanity, and erosion of the prospects of continuance as a cohesive entity,” a joint statement released after the meeting, a copy of which was sent to The Daily Report, reads.
The statement also described as worrisome recent activities and statements purportedly made by the Boko Haram and Miyetti Allah group regarding the testy issue of grazing land for cattle herders, partly arising from the recent announcement by the federal government that it was suspending the RUGA settlement proposal to states.
“We confess ourselves increasingly distressed and appalled, that the hitherto harmonious cohabitation, even routine collaboration, among the productive arms of society that Nigerians have taken for granted even from pre-colonial times, have deteriorated to unprecedented levels of barbarity, contempt for human lives and a defiant trampling on the civic entitlements of other productive vectors such as farmers, the providers of both food and cash crops. This abhorrent, yet consistent pattern of sectarian, and homicidal arrogance is obviously not merely counter-productive but inhuman, criminal and divisive,” a part of the statement reads.
“We reaffirm our commitment to the rights of every individual, every community, every collectivity of human beings as primary, and pre-eminent over and above all other parameters of human development or formal associations.”
Ogunwusi and Soyinka added that the various disturbance and attending violence notwithstanding, they remain committed to the protection and advancement of “our own enduring faith in a common humanity, a respect for the rights of others, but also declare an uncompromising embrace of responsibility for the defence and protection of the rights and egalitarian entitlements of our indigenous communities.”
They also ask Nigerians wherever they may live to meet on various levels to discuss how they believe the country should be administered, going forward.
“We propose a structure that enables the constitutive parts to progress at their own pace, determine their own priorities, and encourage creative exploitation of their resources for the benefit of their peoples,” the statement reads. “Such encounters will simultaneously address the numerous anomalies that plague the nation – from youth unemployment, infrastructural decay, insecurity and ethical collapse, to the untenable aspects of the protocols of the present constitution that supposedly bond the nation as one.’
Both men also stressed that the various ethnic groups that make up Nigeria have a right to preserve their distinct cultural identities heritage, “including tested and relevant pre-colonial values, their spiritual apprehension of phenomena and worship, all without detriment to the principles and ideals of mutual co-existence.”
“We pledge ourselves to join hands with others in fashioning a realistic, functional, and sustainable charter of development for the welfare and progress of our peoples, culturally, economically, and spiritually, where every individual freely obtains access to the means of his or her chosen path of development, and the fulfilling knowledge of valuable contribution to the well-being and [advancement] of the overall community, and of humanity.”