Scholars, activists to Nigerians, political leaders: Choose peace, not war

Nigerians have been urged to shun the path of war but instead, create a people-driven platform that will address the festering ethnic divisions and associated violence across the country.

Participants, including the Provost, College of Education, Technical, Akoka, Lagos, Dr Azeez Ademola; Dr Adagbo Onoja of the Veritas University, Abuja; Executive Director, Journalists for Democratic Rights, (JODER), Comrade Adewale Adeoye; Mr Onyeisi Chiemeke, Kadishi Oliseh, among others made the call at a conference organized by Marron Square, themed: “Identity Politics and the National Question in Nigeria.”

The scholars and human rights activists, who spoke at an event held at the College of Education, Technical, Akoka, Lagos, with over 100 participants drawn from across the social and political spectrum, berated the country’s slide to instability in the midst of rising hate killings, profiling and inept leadership, calling on Nigerians and political leaders to prevent the country from sliding to war.

This was as they further urged the citizens to seize the process of national reconciliation through practical efforts to save the country from waterloo.

Dr Ademola, who is the Special Guest of the summit, in his remarks, charged Nigerians, irrespective of class, faith or ethnicity, not to allow themselves to be overwhelmed by divisive interests seeking to cause disaffection across the country. 

The provost noted that Nigeria is currently in the grip of mayhem ranging from violent extremism, kidnapping, armed uprising amidst poverty and unemployment, and many observers have expressed fear that a major crisis in the country could snowball into conflict which might unsettle the West African sub-region or even beyond. He,  however, urged the citizens to hold firmly to the belief that democracy is the best alternative for the people irrespective of the challenges the country might face at the moment. 

“Nigeria is currently in the grip of mayhem ranging from violent extremism, kidnapping, armed uprising amidst poverty and unemployment.

“Many observers have expressed fear that a major crisis in Nigeria can snowball into conflict which may unsettle the West African sub region or even beyond.

“People should hold firmly to the belief that democracy is the best alternative for them irrespective of the challenges the country may face at the moment,” he said.

Dr. Onoja, in his paper, posited that ethnic groups in Nigeria evolved through various stages, saying what had spiked feelings of hate and prejudiced was the character of bad leadership that had largely been a lot of the country for a long time. 

Onoja of the Veritas University, Abuja, said language similarities played a crucial role in the emergence of modern identities, further argued that it was to this extent that the monolithic binary is a power agenda that reduces Nigeria to a country of two opposing regional identities.

He said this was unlike other climes “where identities, whether they are just two or a million, are meeting and mixing and producing multiple outcomes.”

JODER Executive Director, Comrade Adeoye, whose paper was on “The National Question, Ethnic Identity and Self Determination,” said Nigeria needed to address the national question instead of pretending that the problem does not exist. 

According to Adeoye, the clamour for self determination should be understood within the context of International laws and various conventions of which Nigeria has an obligation to respect.

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