Concise News learned that the Ooni of Ife and the Nobel laureate made their pronouncements after the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum alleged that the Federal Government was plotting to abolish the Land Use Act, which conferred the power to control lands in states on governors.
Oba Ogunwusi and Soyinka, in a communiqué, disclosed that their call on Nigerians to defend themselves became crucial as the Coalition of Northern Groups gave a 30-day ultimatum to the government to pass the Ruga project for Fulani herders despite being suspended after many Nigerians kicked against it.
They said: “In this regard, the recent ultimatum delivered by a sectarian order to the President of this nation to set up the so-called Ruga cattle settlements across the entire nation within a stipulated time, despite the national outcry, should be acknowledged as an entitlement under the bounty of freedom of expression.
“In return, we exercise ours and call upon Nigerian nationals across state demarcations to defend the sanctity of their ancestral lands. This birthright has never been annulled, not even under colonial occupation.”
The Ooni and Soyinka, who is the Akogun of Isara and Akinlatun of Egba, added, “Among such issues of urgent import are the ongoing insurrectional movements that derive from religious fanaticism and intolerance, exemplified by Boko Haram and allied tendencies, as well as aspects of commercial enterprise.
”In which some groups consider themselves especially privileged, singular, and above the laws and entitlements that are binding on other sectors of commercial and industrial undertaking. We have in mind destructive forms of social transactions that characterise groups such as nomadic cattle herdsmen, and their umbrella groupings in the nature of Myetti Allah.
“We confess ourselves increasingly distressed and appalled, that the hitherto harmonious cohabitation, even routine collaboration, among the productive arms of society that Nigerians have taken for granted even from pre-colonial times, have deteriorated to unprecedented levels of barbarity, contempt for human lives and a defiant trampling on the civic entitlements of other productive sectors such as farmers, the providers of both food and cash crops.
”This abhorrent, yet consistent pattern of sectarian, and homicidal arrogance is obviously not merely counter-productive but inhuman, criminal and divisive.”
According to them, we consider it a primary imperative of national existence that the constitutive parts of the nation take steps to preserve and enhance their distinct cultural identities, including tested and relevant pre-colonial values, their spiritual apprehension of phenomena and worship, all without detriment to the principles and ideals of mutual co-existence.