Following the 30-day ultimatum given by a group of Northern youths asking governors opposed to the idea of Ruga Settlements to back down or risk Southerners living in the North being asked to leave the region, some prominent Nigerians are calling for deliberate efforts to douse rising ethnic tensions across the country.
The latest to add their voices to this call are Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi. Both men made their position known after their meeting on July 4, 2019, in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital where they condemned the line being towed by the Northern group.
In a statement jointly signed by Prof. Soyinka and Oba Ogunwusi, they warned that Nigeria cannot survive another upheaval of the magnitude of the 1966-1970 Civil War and that every effort must be made to prevent another one.
While acknowledging the right of the Northern group to make their demand as allowed by freedom of expression, they in the exercise of the same right called on all Nigerian nationals to defend the sanctity of their ancestral lands, adding that this birthright remains inviolate, even under colonial occupation.
The statement adds, “We call on the Nigerian people to recognize that the internal colonization project is ever recurrent, that there are backward, primitive, undeveloped minds that have failed, and continue to fail to overcome delusions in this antiquated belief in sectarian domination as the key to social existence, a belief that despises peaceful cohabitation that is based on mutual respect.”
While calling on Nigerians, both on state and community levels, to step up discussions on the future structure of the nation, and take steps to preserve and enhance their distinct cultural identities, Prof. Soyinka and Oba Ogunwusi emphasized the rights of every Nigerian and community or group of human beings as primary and pre-eminent over and above all other parameters of human development or formal associations.