This is the concluding part of the paper delivered by Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, at the 2012 Achebe Colloquium on Africa held at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island USA. The second part was published yesterday.
INTERESTINGLY, it is only in Yoruba land, and I stand to be corrected, where the problem of abandoned properties did not afflict the Igbos.
They returned after the war to rightfully claim properties they had deserted in flight in the aftermath of the crisis.
It is instructive to also recall that, when Lagos State Military Government many decades after the war tried to expropriate Ojukwu’s property in Lagos, it was a Yoruba lawyer who prosecuted the case successfully on his behalf.
In my own home, Ojukwu was most welcome. He and my uncle started primary school the same day and remained lifelong friends until he passed.
It was, therefore, a duty to honour him as I did at his funeral when I said: “Ikemba, as he was fondly called was an illustrious Nigerian, a dogged fighter and an accomplished individual, whose footprints and legacies onNigeria’s political landscape have earned him a secure place in its Hall of Fame”.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I hope I speak for my generation if I say we understand how difficult things were at the time. We salute the men and women who kept our nation together, especially those who paid the supreme price to do so.
Surmounting the challenges
The only way we can honour their memory is not to re-open the old wounds, but to resolve that never again will our people’s blood be spilled by their own people in order to harness the diversity of our people and make our union more perfect.
It is by making this kind of resolve that we can gain from that conflict and use the lessons to surmount the challenges that stand in the way of our journey to the promise of our nation.
This is why I have inaugurated the bi-ennial Kuramo conference that seeks to provoke the formulation of a new globlal legal order which in my view will unlock the closed doors inhibit the progress of the African continent.
One of its recent gains is the inauguration of the Lagos Court of Arbitration which will help keep arbitration business and practice in Africa instead of exporting them toEurope.
The Kuramo also seeks to repatriateAfrica’s stolen wealth back home, develop a global standard for environmental clean up after oil spillages, reduce the proliferation of small arms amongst many other objectives that I think are laudable.
These for me must be some of the utilitarian values and pre-requisites of Statecraft in the 21st Century in Nigeria,West Africa and every part of the civilized world.