Traditional institutions can reduce ethnic tensions in Nigeria – Igwe Cyprian Maduabuchi Nevobasi
Igwe Cyprian Maduabuchi Nevobasi is the traditional ruler of Agunese Mmaku in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State. Recently, Enugu Progressive Social Club honoured him with a merit award for philanthropy and enterprise. In this interview with LEO SOBECHI, the Omeluenyi I of Agunese Mmaku says traditional rulers can stem incessant squabbles between ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.
How do you feel about the award for business excellence and philanthropy?
Frankly, I am overwhelmed with joy and appreciation for this honour, especially coming from such a reputable organisation. I am also touched that my humble contributions to the betterment of our country could be recognised in such a way. This award has challenged and energised me to make more contributions and offer greater support to worthy causes, especially for the less privileged in society.
Did you have any relationship with Enugu Progressive Social Club before your investiture as patron?
The vision and mission of the club revolve around philanthropy and social development. As such, aside offering moral and financial support towards realisation of those noble visions, I noticed that the club’s mission tallies with my personal outlook on life. So, it was based on this aspect of the club’s drives towards philanthropy that encouraged me to join before being elevated to the patron.
But above all, I must say I am proud to be associated with the club for its role in conflict resolution and peace building initiatives, which have impacted positively on the socio-political stability of not only Enugu State, but also the entire southeast geopolitical zone.
I am overwhelmed by the club’s vision, because with my long residency in South Africa, I know how far conflicts and crises have contributed to underdevelopment and poverty of Africa. So, it gives me pleasure to belong to an organisation that truly stands out among other social clubs in Nigeria in working assiduously to reduce suffering of the masses and less privileged.
I believe government alone cannot tackle social problems in the country. That is why I always want to identify with any move that would encourage young people in various forms, including scholarship to indigent students, donations to charity homes and organisations and settling medical bills of destitute persons in various hospitals.
I am also happy that Enugu Progressive Social Club shares commitment with the state government on youth employment schemes. Making our teeming young population productive through provision of gainful means of livelihood helps to reduce crime and illegal migration. That is why I commend the club for acquiring a large expanse of land at Emene, Enugu State near the NNPC depot, to set up an ultra modern resource and vocational centre, where they can learn various skills to enable them become self-reliant.
Recently, you donated two Hummer buses worth N25m to Enugu Police Command. What motivated that gesture?
As I said earlier, security of lives and property is the most important area of human society and the cornerstone of economic growth. We also know that the main job of Police is to ensure security in every part of Nigeria, by way of protecting citizens’ lives and property. To be able to do this effectively, the police need the support of both government and citizens. That is why I decided to contribute my quota in supporting the police. It is also my own way of supporting what the Ugwuanyi administration is doing to ensure security in the state, as well as show appreciation to the Commissioner of Police in Enugu State and his officers and men for their achievement in the area of security.
There was a time people living outside the country were afraid of coming home to the Southeast. That was why, when donating the vehicles, I said, having travelled far and wide, the police in Enugu encouraged me to make the donations. And, as long as they continue to make Enugu the safest state in the country, surely that won’t be my last support.
I also encourage other well-meaning Nigerians to always show support and encouragement to the police, because it is only a well-equipped and motivated policeman that can go all out to ensure the security society craves.
It was also reported that you have plans to establish cordial socio-cultural relationship between various ethnic groups in Nigerian…
The report is true. It is one of the things I am sponsoring to bring about better understanding among Nigerians in different states and their hosts and vice versa. I considered the initiative necessary in view of current traces of conflict of interest among ethnic nationalities, which led some people to issue quit notice. Average Nigerians like living together, but it is actually the elites that are driving the wedge.
The situation that led to current tension among Nigerians can be explained as a conflict of socio-economic interests. It has nothing to do with unity of the country. It is purely a matter of dwindling opportunities and poverty in which groups view one another with mistrust or suspicion, arising from business and job competition.
I believe what the situation calls for is a conflict resolution strategy aimed at restoring mutual confidence among the people, as had existed many years before now. In this regard, as somebody that has lived and did business in South Africa for many years, and who understands the psychological and cultural factors behind ethnic tension, I plan to use culture and tradition to bring about a better relationship between our peoples. This is where our traditional institutions come in. As you know, culture is a powerful tool of interracial cooperation and correlation, which has been used in several countries to resolve inter-ethnic conflicts.
My programme will involve a series of cultural exchanges between various ethnic groups in Nigeria, especially where there is large concentration of Igbo, including sponsoring exchange visits by traditional rulers and cultural artifacts among other cultural programmes. We also plan to sponsor series of tours for cultural troupes. All these are aimed at engendering better understanding between Nigerians, as well as upholding our rich cultural diversity and hospitality. I hope this will help in fostering peaceful co-existence among Nigerians. Details of the programme will soon be made public.
What advice do you have for Enugu people?
They should continue to live in peace and unity, irrespective of clans or zones. I also urge our people to continue to support the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who has demonstrated commendable political will to uplift the living standards of the masses. They should also consider it wise to support the governor for a second term, so he can continue and complete the good work he has begun. There is huge benefit in encouraging a performing administration to continue.