Obasanjo, Soyinka, others for ‘Never Again Conference’ in Lagos Monday
•As stakeholders celebrate 50th anniversary of Civil War
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Prof. Pat Utom, Prof. Anya. O. Anya and other eminent Nigerians will converge at Lagos next Monday for the ‘Never Again Conference.”
The conference is being organised by Ndigbo Lagos and Nzuko Umunna in collaboration with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) ” in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Nigeria-Biafra War which ended on January 13, 1970.
Other personalities expected to be at “Never Again Conference” according to the organisers are former Vice President, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (rtd); Afenifere Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, and President General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Dr Nnia Nwodo.
Speaking at a press conference held yesterday in Lagos, The Chairman, Council of Elders, Ndigbo, Lagos, Dr Raymond Obieri and Chairman, Nzuko Umunna, Prof. Pat Utomi, said the “Never Again Conference” which will hold on Monday, January 13 at the Muson Centre in Lagos, is aimed at promoting nation-building, forgiveness, healing, re-integration, stability and national cohesion.
They said the groups also want to use the occasion to call for national reflection and encourage building bridges among ethnic groups in Nigeria.
Obieri said the theme of the conference is “Nigerian Civil War: 50 Years After,” adding that the keynote speakers are Prof. Wole Soyinka and Prof. Pat Utomi, while the keynote speeches will be x-rayed by a cream of Nigeria’s leading activists including Prof. Yima Sen, Ms. Onyeka Onwenu, Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) and Mr. Akin Osuntokun.
“The conference is organised by Nzuko Umunna and Ndigbo Lagos along with other civil society organisations to mark the 50 years post-civil war remembrance and underscore the lessons learned.
“The conference is a sequel to the highly successful “Handshake Across the Niger” summit held by Nzuko Umunna in 2018 which celebrated the unique and many shared but often ignored common attributes and mutual interests between Nigeria’s racial groups as epitomized by the age-long peaceful coexistence and robust relationships.” He said.
He said the summit would be chaired by Chairman of Ndigbo Lagos, Prof. Anya O. Anya, while royal fathers of the day are Obi of Onitsha, His Royal Majesty, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe; Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III; Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; Emir of Kano, His Royal Highness, Muhammadu Sanusi II; Tor Tiv, His Royal Majesty, Prof. James Ayatse; Olu of Warri, His Royal Majesty, Ogiame Ikenwoli and Oba of Lagos, His Royal Highness, Oba Rilwan Akiolu.
Speaking also, Utomi, Obieri, Anya and other speakers while commenting on the state of the nation, said Nigeria at present is drifting toward the same situation that brought about the Civil War, which lasted for about three years and therefore charged all stakeholders to do the needful by having a roundtable discussion to prevent what happened in Nigeria between 1966 and 1970.
They said this is time for reflection in Nigeria, noting that the “Never Again Conference,” which is expected to be attended by government officials, traditional rulers, politicians and other key stakeholders will provide avenue for robust discussion and help in addressing what the country need to address to build bridges among all the ethnic groups in Nigeria.
The speakers also disclosed that the “Never Again Conference” has nothing to do with the 2023 Igbo presidency agitation, nor the agitation of some groups in South-East demanding for Biafra.