The Vice-Chancellor of McPherson University, Ajebo, Ogun State, Francis Igbasan, has urged the Federal Government not to take sides in the ongoing war between Israel and Palestine because of the diversity in Nigeria. Igbasan made the call at a conference organised by the National Association for Christian Studies held at the university’s auditorium on Tuesday. According to him, the Israel-Hamas war is an agelong war that has its roots in land dispute rather than religious coloration as being misconstrued in some quarters.
He stated that the Israel-Hamas war started recently. As the conflict continues to generate a ripple effect on citizens of Israel and Palestine surrounding nations, the international community is feeling the heat. He said that peace has taken a “flight” out of the two countries. He further explained that for 70 years, Israel and Palestine have continued in the struggle to gain superiority over each other while at risk of invoking the interests of surrounding nations like Iran, Lebanon, and Syria, and some countries have been taking sides.
Though seemingly religious, the war is geographical, says the VC.
As it is, the United States has declared support for the State of Israel. Some other countries have declared support for Palestine. The vice chancellor stressed further that it would be in the interest of the nation for President Bola Tinubu not to give in to pressure from any quarter to take sides with any of the warring countries. So far, on whether Nigeria should take a side in this Israel-Hamas war, he suggested that President Bola Tinubu should not give in to the pressure. This is because there are many complex undertones to the war. “In my opinion, President Tinubu should tread with caution,” he said. “He should not be swayed by religious sentiments and bigotry.”
Igbasan said that the war is taking the coloration of a religious war, but the truth is that it is more of a geographical war. He said that nations should start considering other alternatives to international conflict resolutions. Meanwhile, in his remarks, the President of NACS, Afolorunsho Dairo, noted that the sustainable development of any nation cannot be possible in an atmosphere of conflict. He urged stakeholders to work towards achieving global peace among nations.
Hamas kickstarted this conflict on October 7, 2023.
On October 7, 2023, the Palestinian fighter group known as Hamas attacked Israel. Many fighters went into Israeli territory and eliminated families while kidnapping hundreds of people. Simultaneously, a barrage of rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Although the majority of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome, Israel defense system, the attack on Israel left many dead and many more injured. As the days progressed, the count went into the thousands. Many sources said that Hamas fighters kidnapped Israelis in order to exchange them for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.
Consequently, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) were able to repel further attacks. Now, the Jewish state is on the offensive, focusing on eliminating high-value Hamas commanders. In the course of doing so, Palestinian civilians were caught in the crossfire. Hamas was said to have built about 500 kilometers of tunnels underneath civilian areas in the Gaza Strip. So, as Israeli planes targeted commanders in the tunnels, hundreds of civilians were also affected. This is because houses collapsed into the tunnels and neighbourhoods were left desolate from the aftermath of the attacks.
Sub-Saharan Africa remained essentially neutral.
Because of this, countries of the world are divided. Some, like the United States and the United Kingdom, have supported Israel. Others, such as Arab countries like Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, and Syria, have made their support for Palestine known. Sub-Saharan African countries were largely neutral in the past weeks except Arab-affiliated countries like Morocco. Nigeria is diverse, having a lot of Christian and Muslims citizens. The country cannot take a stand on whether to support Israel or Palestine, especially as the war does not affect the country directly.