Religion Driving Nigeria Apart, Says Ooni of Ife

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‘Ife, Modakeke war will never come up again’

Paul Obi in Abuja

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Odunwusi, said yesterday that religion had become a poisoned chalice in Nigeria, which is driving the country apart. The Ooni spoke in Abuja as guest speaker at the National Defence College, Course 25. He spoke on the theme, “Socio-cultural Development and National Security: the Role of Traditional Institutions in Nigeria.”

The Ooni’s comment came amid worries by security agencies about the increasing spate of inflammatory religious comments, particularly, on social media.
According to him, though Nigeria is diverse culturally, such diversity is the melting pot and strength of the country.

He said, “Religion has continued to divide us apart, religion is tearing us apart, we have to set aside religion, else, religion will continue to divide and destroy us.”
The Ooni maintained that culture remained the most unifying instrument in nation building, stressing, “Traditional institutions play pivotal role in national security and development.”

He told the gathering that through the adoption of traditional institutions as bridge builders and peacemakers, he had been able to ensure that the “Ife, Modakeke war will never come up again.”
The Ooni also told the participants that there was an urgent need to include traditional institutions in the process of law making, obviously reiterating the need for a constitutional role for traditional rulers in the country.

Earlier, the Commander of the National Defence College, Abuja, Rear Admiral Samuel Alade, explained that the forum provided ample “opportunity to learn from the custodian and cherished traditional heritage.”
Alade harped on the imperative of the traditional institutions, stating that they are dependable partners in national security.

Also, Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, represented by Brig Gen Muhammed Sani Ahmed, stated that the traditional institutions were “functional to conflict management and political stability in Nigeria.”

He applauded the giant strides the Ooni of Ife had achieved so far since his ascension to the throne, stressing that his reign has ushered in some level of stability within the Yoruba Kingdom and beyond.