By Soyombo Opeyemi
At the Monday, July 24, 2017 summit of the South West governors (now Western Nigeria Governors’ Forum) in Abeokuta, the Ogun State helmsman, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, rued the partition of the old Western Region in the following words: “Instead of building bridges, some of our people are digging trenches for protection against their own brothers and sisters.”
The artificial partition of Africa, a product of the 1884/85 Berlin Conference, has had the same centrifugal effect on the landscape of Africa. Time and time again, brothers who had lived together in peace for centuries, have had to meet at the abattoir of mutual annihilation in defence of artificial boundaries and resolution of otherwise communal differences.
Wrote Soyinka in The Man Died, “It is better to believe in people than nations… And any exercise of self-decimation sorely in defence of the inviolability of the temporal demarcations called nations is a mindless travesty of idealism. Peoples are not temporal because they can be defined by infinite ideas. Boundaries cannot.”
“And to further worsen the situation,” observed Governor Amosun, “some of our people are also making themselves available as instruments of division because of their selfish political gains. The consequence is that our people begin to see themselves as a people of one State or the other rather than as a sub-unit of the Yoruba entity.”
He there and then counselled: “We cannot allow artificial boundaries such as geography, religion, politics, etc. to hinder our joint development. We should explore the common heritage in culture and tradition as a spring-board for the development of our different States and the entire Region as a whole.”
I believe the message of the Ogun State governor is most pertinent and has the same appeal to the people of Nigeria, especially at this time of socio-political agitations.
- Opeyemi is based in Abeokuta