At the 112th posthumous birthday lecture in honour of Chief Obafemi Awolowo organised virtually on Saturday 6 March 2021 by the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation led by his daughter, Dr Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu, many problems rocking Nigeria were discussed and some solutions were proffered.
The lecture, Whither Nigeria?, was given by Mr Odia Ofeimun who spoke to the ethnic, economic and political crises in Nigeria. He accused President Muhammadu Buhari of flagrantly abandoning his political party in pursuit of ethnic agenda.
This pursuit of ethnic agenda, he said, has always blurred Buhari’s vision. The country under Buhari, he observed, has become a heart of darkness. He said that Buhari is not so interested in mass education. Rather he is more interested in cattle republic. He condemned a situation where Fulan herdsmen are allowed by the security forces in Nigeria to take over other peoples farms, asking the owners to choose between their lands and their lives.
Nigeria, according to him, is a country worth defending. And part of this defence is the recognition of ethnic identity. Chief Emeka Anyaoku said that human lives in Nigeria have become so cheap. He spoke about economic underperformance, poverty, worsening insecurity, killings, kidnappings and divisiveness.
He then asked: How long can the leadership of this nation ignore the inevitable calamity if the problems are not solved? He said that the problems cannot be effectively tackled under the federal arrangement that the country operates. He argued that the federalism model for Nigeria should, not be the United States of America, but India in which component parts live in unity, economic development and political stability. To arrest the current drift, he called for dialogue.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’adu Abubakar, said that tempers that have been flaring in the country should be doused. As a former Army officer, he told the gathering that he had seen conflicts, wars and deaths and that any war is not something to be wished for. According to him, returning violence for violence brings more violence.
No problem, he said, is beyond dialogue. Nigerians must never be afraid to talk to one another. Professor Wole Soyinka chaired the event which was moderated by Professor Michael Faborode.