Nigeria: From Ife/Modakeke to Offa (Commentary)

By Lekan Alabi, 6 June 2000

Lagos — The dimension which ethnic loyalty (sorry hostility) being displayed by nationalities of diverse sociological and anthropological backgrounds in Nigeria takes in the recent time would ordinarily provoke a serious reaction from members of the public, who are genuinely concerned about the peaceful co-existence and cordial interactions of Nigerians, irrespective of their origin, tribe and creed. One is appalled, to note the gross insensitivity and apparthy of the State to the blatant exhibition of cannibalism by the warring ethnic groups.

In the East, it is the unpalatable news of Aguleri/ Umuleri War, in the West, it is barbaric scene of Ife/ Modakoke intercine and Sagamu imbroglio, in the North it is brutal Kano ethnic cleansing and Kaduna religious cum tribal riot, in the South, it is incessant minority agitation and lately, in Offa merciless killings and maiming of innocent students whose parents have high hope on. It is all gory tale of score settling, retaliation and set up. Where is safe again? This nation is indeed highly fragile.

What baffles this writer most is the total non-existence of those war activists when the pro-democracy groups, in the country were fighting against military dictatorships. The wanton destruction of lives and property of innocent citizens, who happen to be victims of war is highly unspeakable.

The only way out of this, heavily corrupted and manipulated society is our institutions of learning. However, what we have seen with our very eyes have raised reasonable doubt about the capacity of this social institution to reform the nauseating social decadence and curtail excesses in our society.

Let us think about this situation, how can one explain the mystery that surrounds the crude abduction of a Part VI Medical Student, glaringly in his clinical coat, obviously from the Teaching Hospital, by people suspected to be irate Ife/ Modakeke warriors. This is the price a gentle soul, by name Seni Osunade, had to pay for being a student of Obafemi Awolowo University that happened to be located at one of the war-zones in the country.

The members of the University Community have refugee status, since the whole system in the place has been grounded to a halt by these bloodthirsty species.

Let us further reflect. I cannot understand the interest Offa warriors were protecting by invading the Federal Polytechnic Offa and started shooting innocent students with sophisticated but dangerous weapons.

When the European Union is striving every second to break the boundaries and enclaves that exist among nations that formed the Union, Nigerians are drumming loudly separatist agenda and seriously prosecuting with huge resources, ethnic wars.

It must be pointed out that as a people with heritage, history and origin there is nothing wrong with ethnic loyalty, cultural identification and upholding ones values as a platform of forging a formidable nation – state that is capable of addressing our fundamental needs. What every right thinking person should dissociate from is ethnic hostility that is being displayed with impunity in different parts of the country.

What Obasanjo has done so far to enforce law and order in all these war zones, has clearly shown where his interest lies. He stopped agitation at Odi because there is an imperialist interest he must protect in Bayelsa state. He fuelled the blind war going on in Ife/ Modakeke by his last visit because there are some sacred cows who are above the law of the land in that place.

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