The Elusive Goal of Unity:
Politics, Conflict, and Morality
The pronouncement that Government has proscribed certain associations because of their disruptive influence on the Transition Programme does not come as a surprise because of the manner in which the whole programme is being stage-managed…. It is a dangerous thing to enact laws which outlaw legitimate associations at grassroots…. Here in Ijesaland, there are many societies … intent on doing something by way of self-help to improve living standards and the quality of life of the people. There are people from other parts of Nigeria living in Ijesaland. We give them hospitality and extend the warm hands of friendship to them. They themselves, although they appreciate the friendship and welcome…, feel more comfortable to form “Unions” based on their different ethnic groups so that they can together reach for benefits which as individuals they would have difficulty in attaining…. This is their birth-right. In a country in which Stateism has been allowed to supplant national citizenship, these Unions provide for the individual living far from home, the added security and defence of his basic rights. These Unions are not political organisations nor are they intended to exert undue influence on the political process. They represent the exercise by these various groups of their fundamental right of free association to ensure that none of their members suffers victimisation because he lives far away from home in his own country. Similarly, minority elements must be able to feel safe and have a sense of belonging as first class citizens in their country…. The signs are ominous that we have the … potentials for disintegration and more requires to be done to promote national cohesion and national integration…. We do not achieve this by over-legislating. Our leaders must show themselves to be capable of putting into motion a system which ensures social justice and equal opportunity for all citizens. They must identify with the sufferings of the people.
—E. A. Ifaturoti, “Law and Tyranny, ”
essay published in Nigerian Tribune, June 4, 1992
I most sincerely welcome you to this maiden meeting of our committee, which … is charged with the responsibility of finding the “Ways and Means of forging permanent unity” among the “Warring” factions in Ijesaland and of stimulating our peoples socio-economic development…. As chairman of this Committee, I am hereby calling on all of us serving on