Academics and other scholars who graced the 2017 conference of the African Heritage Institution, Enugu, have agreed that the attainment of peace and national integration in Nigeria is possible and can be achieved within the shortest possible time if the government can ensure that the federation is rebalanced along regional or geo-political zones; entrench good governance and ensure accountability to the people in public service.
They observed that the present discordant tunes and orchestration of separatist agitations by some ethnic nationalities are primarily fuelled by two main reasons: pre-war and post-war. On pre-war, the colonial policy of divide and rule; forceful incorporation of different nationalities into the big state and manipulation of ethnic and cultural differences of members of the state have all combined to propel and heat up separatist agitations in Nigeria. Post war causes of tension and hostilities in the county include marginalization/relative deprivation; manipulation of ethnic and cultural differences; structural imbalance as well as governance failure.
According to one of the key note speakers, Professor Elochukwu Amucheazi, he highlighted the need for evaluation and re-evaluation of “settled ideas to ascertain it’s impeccability, according to him, no idea is so sacrosanct to be above questioning. Therefore, the idea of Nigeria’s unity can be examined and re-examined to arrive at the best option. “Nigeria must settle for a truly balanced federation, in all ramifications of that concept”, he asserts.
In his contribution, Professor Okwudiba Nnoli (Professor Emeritus), spoke very passionately about the need for proper restructuring and change and to entrench peace and national integration.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Executive Director of the African Heritage Institution (AfriHeritage), Professor Ufo Okeke-Uzodike, posited that the problems facing Nigeria are too important to be left to our politicians. According to him, Scholars have a vital role to play in ensuring that the lines and details of debates and policy are focused appropriately, hence the need for the conference.
He revealed that the idea of the conference is in pursuit of long lasting and workable peace in the country. “We wanted to make it a gathering of those truly interested in engaging in the issues of peacebuilding and national integration in an environment where the nation is not integrated and where many of its parts are pushing for separation”.
“Nigeria is a seriously divided country. Regrettably, there are tremendous divisive pressures everywhere. It seems that Nigerians are often so focused on the things that divide them that they are unable to identify and appreciate the things that bind them”, he averred.
The conference which held at the institution’s conference hall in Enugu on Friday September, 22nd, 2017 with the theme: “Peace Building and national Integration: The Political Economy of Separatism” was well attended by eminent scholars.