National News Politics

Nigeria I grew up in knows no ethnicity, we must not allow it to divide us – Okunnu

By Amidu Arije

A renowned lawyer and former Federal Commissioner for Works and Housing, Alhaji Lateef Okunnu (SAN), has said the country has never been this divided on ethnicity lines as been witnessed today in the country.

Okunnu said there was no case of ethnicity in the history of Nigeria, but today it has been injected into the politics of the country by some elements for their personal gains and attempt to break up the country.

He spoke on Sunday during the 26th Annual Pre-Ramadan Lecture organised by the University of Lagos Muslim Alumni on ‘Though Tribe and Tongue May Differ: Interrogating Nigeria’s Nationhood’.

Citing examples of leaders who have governed the country in different capacities, Okunnu said, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikwe became influential in the country without promoting ethnicity.

The elder statesman, who was the Chairman of the occasion, urged Nigerians to fight for the unity of the country.

He said, “We knew nothing about ethnicity when I was born regardless of our origin. When I was growing up as a schoolboy, I followed politics before I clocked ten. I read newspapers in the restroom.

“Ethnicity could not divide us. In fairness to Awolowo, he did not use Egbe Omo Odudduwa to govern the South-West. Nnamdi did not use Igbo Union to govern when he was the premier.

“There is still a debate on who won the election in 1954. The debate still continues. Whatever the side you take, the two leaders did not use religion to govern the country. The then Sardauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Ibrahim Bello, held conferences in Ibadan.

“The Nigeria I grew up prioritised unity. We must not allow ethnicity to divide us.”

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