From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Former Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Prof. Emmanuel Nwanze has advocated the need for reparation to assuage the damage resulting from the punitive exploitation of 1897 by the British on the Benin Empire.
Nwanze, a Professor of Biochemistry, is making the call upon the repatriation of looted artefacts during the invasion which also witnessed the razing of the Benin palace and the inglorious exile of Oba Ovonramwen to Calabar.
The former VC was speaking in Asaba as quest lecturer at the maiden Edo Cultural Day celebration of Edo Catholic Community, St. John Mary Vianey Parish, Asaba, Delta State.
He commended Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, for achieving the return of the stolen artefacts, noting however that the ripples over where they should be warehoused would be settled in due course.
Nwanze insisted that the return of the artefacts was not enough, adding that “we must ask for reparations. We must insist that the damage must be assuage to avoid a repeat of the punitive exploitation.”
He described the 1897 British expedition as not only exploitative and punitive but also racist and highly condemnable.
According to him, what happened in 1897 was inhuman and unnecessary show of might.
“That is exactly what Putin is doing to Ukraine at the moment. And we must stand against it, resist it to avoid efforts to repeat such invasion,” he added.
On the flip side, the former VC stressed the need for Nigeria and Nigerians to de-emphasis attributes that might cause more harm to the nation’s unity.
He said there was no need to highlight ‘state of origin’ in national affairs but the emphasis should be on ‘state of birth’ or ‘state of residence’.