We are gratified to note the concerted efforts being made by leaders at various levels of authority to bring succour to the victims of the Ile Ife communal crisis which erupted on 20th March, 2017. It claimed no fewer than 46 lives, sent about 90 injured victims to the hospitals and rendered a lot of people homeless.
Being a direct confrontation between the indigenous Yoruba and Hausa/Fulani settlers, it was a conflict that threatened the already embattled fabric of our nationhood due to fears that it could escalate and spread to other parts.
Matters were not helped by the way law enforcement agencies reportedly intervened, which led some commentators to complain of “one-sided arrests” and arraignment of suspects.
Worthy of commendation and emulation are the roles that traditional rulers, especially the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi and his Kano counterpart, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II, played during and since the bloody clashes. At a joint ceremony in Ife, Osun State, where the sum of N50 million donated by President of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote was disbursed, Sanusi revealed the frantic efforts that Ogunwusi made in conjunction with himself and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad, to contain the crisis and minimise its effects.
It is very commendable that the cordial relationship which existed between the predecessors of the two monarchs, the late Oba Okunade Sijuwade of Ife and the late Alhaji Ado Bayero, Emir of Kano, too close personal friends who risked a lot to hasten the restoration of the diplomatic ties between Nigeria and Israel, is continuing in the new dispensation under Ogunwusi and Sanusi.
This is the kind of relationship we like to see more of among Nigerian leaders, traditional rulers, religious leaders, leaders of thought, youth groups and other interest groups cutting across our socio-economic, cultural and ethnic divides.
Coming at a time of great tension between the Northern and Southern parts exacerbated by separatist agitations, “quit notices”, the widespread criminalities being perpetrated by armed herdsmen, among other socio-political challenges, these gestures are very welcome.
We also commend the Dangote Group for spending its money to apply soothing balm on the over 200 victims for their losses. That the compensations were applied without discrimination went a long way to encourage the two erstwhile warring sides to bury the proverbial hatchets.
Beyond the noble gestures of the traditional rulers and the philanthropist, we call on Nigerians to see one another as brothers and sisters and live together peacefully and lawfully wherever they find themselves. There must be mutual respect between indigenes and settlers, and no one has the right to dehumanise the other. We must learn to resolve our differences amicably or report to the authorities before things get out of hand.