The Arewa United Consultative Forum has called on northerners across the country not to retaliate against southerners following the recent clash between Yoruba and Hausa communities in Shasha market in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The group said the North and South-West should not be engaged in such disputes, likening them husband and wife or slave and master relationship because of their "similar traditions and religious beliefs".
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AUCF also condemned the crisis which has claimed lives and resulted in the loss of properties worth millions of naira, describing as the handiwork of the enemies of the country.
This was contained in a press statement released by the group and made available to SaharaReporters on Tuesday.
In the statement signed by its President, Alhaji Ado Shuaibu Dansudu, the forum recalled how the country had produced great leaders across ethnic lines working together to promote the unity of the country, which the present generation must imbibe.
Dansudu, however, said in the statement that the crises in Nigeria should be blamed on the enemies of the country who always fan embers of disunity, as it was with the past leaders.
“We call on all northerners not to retaliate following the unfortunate crisis that broke out in Shasha, Ibadan. We know that there are some elements who are trying to cause problems between the North and the South-West, but Insha Allah, their plans will be destroyed.
“The North and the South-West are just like husband and wife or slave and his master because we share similar traditions and religious beliefs. Besides, we are both accommodating but we don’t know what brought about the hatred and misunderstanding that is playing out between the northerners and the southwesterners.”
According to him, northerners and southerners have specific businesses they are known for which promote economic growth in the country, and ethnicity should not be allowed to destroy it.
“The northerners did not take over their businesses or their places in work. Anywhere you see 100 northerners in the South-West, they are only there to sell what they labour for. They also create jobs for the southerners like the abattoir.
“There are thousands of southerners working there and there are millions of them selling fresh meat all over the South-West, and there are thousands of them dealing in perishable food items and there are thousands of market women who buy from the market. Some even buy on credit. There are many markets in the South-West where there are no northerners because they don’t sell their items there. So there is a good understanding between northerners and the southerners right from independence.
“Sir Samuel Akintola was appointed by Sir Ahmadu Bello as the Premier of the South-West. General Yakubu (Gowon) appointed (Chief Obafemi) Awolowo as minister of finance. Then, Nigeria relied on the resources of the North before the discovery of oil. General Murtala (Mohammed) picked Obasanjo as his second-in-command.
“Also, General Ibrahim Babangida picked a southerner as his second-in-command just as General Buhari picked Tunde Idiagbon. Similarly, General Sani Abacha picked Oladipo Diya as his second-in-command just as Buhari picked (Prof. Yemi) Osinbajo as his running mate in the recently concluded presidential election.
“Right from the time of Nigeria’s struggle for dependence at that time, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the most popular and one of the dogged independence fighters. Some people who didn’t want the progress of the nation sabotaged him and instigated him to form a tribal political party.
“These same people caused misunderstanding between Chief Awolowo and Samuel Akintola who later became rivals and when Sir Akintola became the premier in the then Western Region, the same people told lies against Sir Akintola and Awolowo that he attempted a coup during Tafawa Balewa's regime.
“In the Second Republic, these same people instigated Awolowo to form a political party along tribal lines after the assassination of Sir Ahmadu Bello and Tafawa Balewa. Chief Awolowo was the strongest and the most popular politician at that time and the same people sabotaged him from becoming the President of Nigeria.
“Once again; the same people prevented Chief MKO Abiola from becoming the President of Nigeria and the same people rejected (Ernest) Shonekan as the Head of Interim Government and the same people rejected Obasanjo for the Third Republic and the same people tied the hands of the five South-West states to give the Peoples Democratic whereby only Lagos State survived with the efforts of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and now the same people are trying to sabotage Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s ambition of becoming President. It will not be surprising if they turn round to blame the Northerners.
Dansudu also urged Nigerians to be wary of the enemies of the country trying to use ethnic and religious differences to cause havoc.
“It is the same set of people who are instigating the misunderstanding and problems between the Southerners and Northerners. Therefore we need to be very careful. Buhari is a northerner and Osinbajo is a southerner and they are taking coffee together and the Senate and House of Representatives' members are taking coffee together. Ministers and ambassadors are taking coffee together; we the masses, why are we fighting and killing one another? When they send enforcement agents, they send three major tribes and when there is a religious crisis, they send Muslim and Christian enforcement agents to stop the crisis.
“If the people are saying Nigeria is not a good country, then we spoilt it together. But I know that the enemies of peace, since independence have been trying to use ethnicity and religion to cause a problem. Our question is 'is it only Nigeria that has different tribes and religions?'
“What surprises us is that there are many southwesterners facing trial for killing their fellow southerners and there are northerners facing trial for killing their fellow northerners and there are easterners facing trial for killing their fellow easterners, likewise the South-South and there are Muslims facing trial for killing their fellow Muslims and Christians facing trial for killing their fellow Christians.
“Why not take the matter to the authorities or settle it amicably? If it is inter-tribal or inter-religious, it turns to violence. What happened in Shasha is very sad because innocent people lost their lives and properties. We must warn our people. To our surprise, most of the northern and southern boys are drug addicts, and the children of the drug dealers don’t use the drug so we have to do something about it.
“So we should not be killing one another on the basis of language because there are many northerners in the South who cannot locate their towns in the North. Likewise, there are southerners who cannot locate their towns in the South. They have naturally become northerners. I want to advise Nigerians to be their brothers’ keeper and to live in peace and harmony with one another."
Saharareporters, New York