Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, has appealed to Nigerians not to allow their differences and the challenges confronting the various ethnic nationalities to divide them as members of a united country.
As the governor parsoned 12 convicts to celebrate Nigeria”s 57th independence anniversary.
The governor made the appeal in his goodwill message issued in Ibadan on Saturday by his Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Mr. Yomi Layinka, on the occasion of the 57th independence anniversary of Nigeria.
While admitting that many things were wrong with the current federal arrangement in Nigeria which, according to him, had put some parts of the country at a serious disadvantage, he, however, said that things could be sorted out in a one and indivisible country.
According to him, “It is quite unfortunate that at 57, Nigerians are more divided along ethnic and religious lines than we used to be at independence in 1960. The drum of separation is being beaten now more than ever before.
“Ethnic groups with separatist agenda are springing up on daily basis, while erstwhile brothers and compatriots are taking up arms against one another, with others shouting `To thy tent, O Israel.
“Right now, many of our countrymen see Nigeria as one alien enterprise from which they are very distant and which has no bearing on their existence. This alienation had led to the series of unwholesome developments which have put Nigeria on the map of violence-ridden countries.
“While it is true that some ethnic nationalities have not fared better under the current federal arrangement, the solution does not lie in the disintegration of the country or issuance of quit notice by one ethnic group to another.
” We are indeed better and stronger together with common aspirations in a united Nigeria.’’
The governor also called for concerted efforts at combating the violence, maiming and wanton destruction of lives and property, all in the name of religious extremism.
“More fundamentally, let us combat the demon of violence and crimes that is posturing as part of our clime. We must wean our country from the hands of this unwholesome tag that is a major disincentive to growth and development.
“We should hold the relative peace in the country very sacred and deepen the confines of peace. We can do this by living peaceably with our fellow men and women and put Nigeria at the centre of our interpersonal relationships,’’ he said.
The governor, while congratulating Nigerians on the occasion, called for more patriotism, resilience and determination on their part to ensure that the country attained greatness.
In the same vein, the Governor, also pardoned 21 convicts on the occasion of Nigeria’s 57th independence anniversary celebrations.
In a another issued in Ibadan on Saturday by the Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy, Mr. Yomi Layinka, said the development was exercise of the governor’s power of prerogative of mercy, pursuant to the provisions of section 212 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
According to the statement, seven persons were granted release from prison, having spent varying terms of their sentences, while 13 others had their death sentences reduced to a term of years, having spend considerable terms in prison.
The statement further stated that one person had his death sentence commuted to life imprisonment.
“The records of the benefitting convicts suggest that they have undergone reforms while some of them have, while in incarceration, passed their General Certificate of Education (GCE) examinations and obtained first degree certificates from the National Open University.
“Some of them are also at varying stages of completion of their degree courses in different courses at NOUN,’’ it said.
The statement expressed the hope that the governor’s gesture would be reciprocated by the beneficiaries by maintaining good conduct and ensuring that they became useful to themselves and the society at large