At a time when the activities of the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, are threatening the peace of the country, two of Nigeria’s notable religious leaders have been nominated for the award of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize.
They are the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Onaiyekan, and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammed Sa’ad Abubakar III, representing Christianity and Islam respectively.
The Agence France Presse reported on Thursday that the International Peace Research Institute said that Prof. Gene Sharp of the United States, a theorist on non-violent struggle, and the Echo of Moscow radio station were the main contenders for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
The IPRI noted that Onaiyekan and the Sultan may have made the list alongside the former US President Bill Clinton, for their efforts at campaigning against the misuse of religion.
Paradoxically, the unfortunate events of the past few years have consistently signalled an erosion of peace in Nigeria, with a few aggrieved citizens predicting a likely disintegration of its corporate nation hood.
There have also been widespread threats to the possibility of continued tolerance between adherents of the two main religions.
Muslim and Christian leaders have had to query the purported religious intentions of the Boko Haram, which has brought Nigeria under siege through the bombing of Christian places of worship, shooting, killing and wanton destruction of property.
The socio- political posture of the country has constantly been battered as unconfirmed reports had pointed an accusing fingers at some bigwigs as sponsors and backers of the Islamic sect.
President Goodluck Jonathan once raised the alarm that members of the sect had found their way into his cabinet.
An elder statesman and renowned writer, Prof. Chinua Achebe, was once nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature, being one of the awards by the Nobel Foundation.
In 1986, the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to Prof. Wole Soyinka, making him the first African to clinch the award, which was in recognition of his wide cultural perspective and literary proficiency.
The Head of the IPRI, Kristian Berg Harpviken, had described the Peace award as, “The most talked-about of the Nobel Prize awards, which appears to be a wide open race this year with no clear frontrunner.”
Harpviken, who follows the work of the Peace Prize committee closely, publishes his own list of possible winners every year.
He hinted that a total of 231 nominees have been short listed, and although the prize committee never discloses the nominees’ names, Bill Clinton, Helmut Kohl, the EU and WikiLeaks suspect, Bradley Manning, are known to be on the list.
“The list includes Gene Sharp, an American political theorist and expert on non-violent revolution; Russian rights group, Memorial, and its founder Svetlana Gannushkina; and independent Russian media outlet Echo of Moscow; Myanmar President Thein Sein; and the radio’s Chief Editor, Aleksei Venediktov.
Afghan human rights activist, ex-minister and burka opponent Sima Samar is also seen as a possible winner.
“The Nobel Foundation has slashed the prize sum because of the economic crisis to 8.0m Swedish kronor ($1.2m, €930,940) per award, down from the 10m kronor awarded since 2001,” he wrote.
The Peace Prize winner will be announced next Friday, although the Medicine Prize will open the award season on Monday.
In the course of the week, the Physics Prize, the Nobel Chemistry Prize and the Literature Prize will hold respectively. But the Economics Prize, which is said to have been won by the Americans over the years, will be the last prize to be announced on Oct. 15.
“This year, the juries are going to great lengths to keep the laureates’ names under wraps in the run-up to the announcements, which start on Monday, and run daily until they wind up a week later with the Economics Prize.
“While it is usually difficult to predict who will be recognized for pioneering research in the scientific fields – Medicine, Physics, Chemistry and Economics – the public can play the guessing game when it comes to the Peace and Literature prizes.
“The Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Literature prize, is known for its cloak-and-dagger methods to prevent any leaks about its choice, resorting to code names for authors and fake book covers when reading in public. In line with tradition, and unlike the other prizes, the date of the Literature prize announcement is revealed only a couple of days before,” AFP reported.
gained international prominence in 2009 when its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, was summarily executed by policemen after soldiers had captured him.
The sect has been waging a destructive war against the Nigerian state since then.
Boko Haram stepped up its attacks against security formations and citizens in the run-up to the 2011 general elections.
It also scored with attacks on the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters in Abuja, before attacking the United Nations Headquarters in Abuja on Aug. 26, 2011.
Onaiyekan and the Sultan have however been campaigning against the activities of the sect and stressing the need for peace between the adherents of the two major religions in the country.