By Vanessa Obioha
In the wake of rising agitations by different ethnic groups calling for a divided nation, a notable US-based Nigerian musician, Prince Ajisebutu, formerly known as Ayo Manuel, has urged Nigerians to embrace love and avoid genocide.
Ajisebutu is concerned that the alarming rate of separatist agendas by the different ethnic groups in Nigeria; the most recent being the call for Oduduwa Republic among the Yoruba people of South-west during the last 60th independence anniversary of the country, is threatening the unity of the country.
The group is not the first to promote such an agenda. Biafra Republic in the South-east, Arewa Republic in the North and Niger Delta Republic in the South-south have made similar calls.
Also, the social commentator finds worrisome the perceived political imbalance and domination of the country’s top government positions like the Armed Forces, police, and civil service by the Hausa/Fulani ethnic group since independence.
According to him, such sense of entitlements, many believe, is responsible for the incessant farmers/herdsmen clash, Ruga settlement controversies, invasion of southern Nigeria’s forests by armed nomads and the high spate of kidnappings.
This worrisome trend has led to a feeling of alienation, dissatisfaction and mistrust among the various constituents of Nigeria, giving rise to criticism of the current leadership by opposition parties, religious leaders, social commentators, including a recent statement credited to former President Olusegun Obasanjo that Nigeria has never been divided like it is under the current administration.
It is against this backdrop that Ajisebutu is bringing his peace activism to bear, urging his native countrymen to eschew lawlessness in order not to plunge the country into chaos.
“Imagine how millions of lives could have been saved in Rwanda and Burundi if the world stood up at the beginning of the genocide that ravaged the two countries,” he said, adding that his “mission is to inspire people globally to behave royally and do everything with love for the greater good of humanity”.
He believes Nigerians are all connected and must bury all divisive ideologies in order to experience total peace and prosperity during “our short stay here on earth”.
Ajisebutu also frowns on a situation whereby, under a supposed democratic rule, peaceful protesters cannot gather without being harassed by the police and men of the Department of State Services (DSS), and decried the leader of Revolution Now, Omoyele Sowore, been kept in Abuja under the order of the court for asking for better governance for Nigerians.
He said activism is an integral part of the
Founder and President of MansMark Records, an entertainment outfit in Los Angeles, California, who in 1995, organized several rallies to save the Nigerian human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni 9 from being killed by Gen. Sani Abacha.
He later joined forces with Tunde Okorodudu and other Nigerians in Oakland and San Francisco area to form Free Nigeria Movement. Their activities received the support of organizations such as Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and Rainforest Action Network.
He was also the producer and presenter of Voice of Free Nigeria, a weekly radio show that urged Nigerians to take charge of their destiny. The radio was used to protest the annulment of the election of June 12, unjust imprisonment of oppositions and other atrocities committed by the junta regime of Gen. Abacha.
His history of activism and the constant call for love, peace and unity date back to the 80s, and are reflected in his songs, like ‘Save Nigeria’ (1991), ‘Africans Unite'(1991) and soon to be released ‘Make a Change’.
A social change agent, entrepreneur, and creator of A.Y. ZERO clothing line, Ajisebutu personal mantras are ‘Behave Royally’, ‘Love, Don’t Hate’ and ‘We Are Connected’. These he said, serve as the blueprint for all his business ventures, music, and creative endeavours.
“I consider my work to be an evolving, expanding vision to create a better world, no matter what I am doing,” he said.