Handshake: What next?
IN a society where collaboration between geopolitical zones often lead to landmark consensus on national issues, today’s summit between the Yoruba and Igbo, will be seen as very promising. Handshake Across the Niger summit The fact that the Yoruba and the Igbo have rarely had any convergence on socio-political issues before and after independence, suggests that the outcome of the forum may likely address the age-long mistrust between them. It could also be a functional vehicle for the bonding of the components that make up the larger South. If the conference heralds that, the dreams of having a monolithic South like the North would be birthed in Enugu thereby signposting an era of mutual stance on national affairs. Already, the South-South has keyed into the project, corroborating the position of analysts that it could yield critical ingredients needed for the realignment of a divided South. Though there had been near-similar summits in the past under the auspices of Southern Conference, the fact that the latest one is purely being driven by the apex socio-cultural organizations among the Yoruba and the Igbo is significant. Titled Handshake Across the Niger, it is expected that the forum which comes at a time Nigeria is challenged by peculiar social, economic and political challenges like never before, would provide a platform to prick the conscience of the Federal Government. On the one hand, both conveners and sympathetic analysts are enthusiastic that the gathering would explore, sustain and strengthen the bond between both ethnic blocs. On the other hand some are skeptical about the possibility of achieving its set-goals considering the deep-seated nature of the mistrust between both tribes on virtually every issue. However, Nigerians are waiting with bated breath to see how far the summit would go in promoting the interests of not only both tribes but Southern Nigeria. Such expectation was even highlighted by Ohaneze in a pre-event statement where it said thus: ‘’The event which will attract several notable Igbo and Yoruba elites and stakeholders would x-ray the past, present, and future of Igbo /Yoruba relationship and seek for ways to boost such relationship. ‘’The two groups are from the same Kwa stock of the Niger/Congo family group and have a lot in common, though mutually suspicious of each other over the years. They also share some critical views on the restructuring of Nigeria,” Ohanaeze Ndigbo said.