It seems the prediction of Mr. John Campbell a former United State Ambassador to Nigeria, that Nigeria is going to break may not be a misplaced one. We have come a long way for us to be divided along ethnic lines with some people regarded as northerners, southerners, indigenes, settlers and so on.
I wonder how long we are going to continue this disunity. Many lives are lost as a result of our inability to become united as one people but yet we still have an ethnic and tribalistic outlook. It is often said that together we stand, divided we fall. Nigeria is no doubt dancing on the brink with the North-South divide as evident in the voting pattern during the last presidential elections.
The issue of zoning or rotation of power is not only happening at the federal level but also at the state levels with governorship positions also zoned among the different ethnic groups in a state. Nigeria leaders seem to see this as the best way to ensure cohesion and integration among the diversities of ethnic groups in the nation as well as the fall out of the elections.
Many countries on the Continent look up to us as the giant of Africa that we claim to be but we have failed to be a good example for these nations to follow. We have not been able to integrate the various ethnic groups and regions of the country. The reason why the objective of uniting Nigerians have not been achieved neither has difference in ideologies, tribalism, political rivalry, disagreement, conflicts and political intolerance been addressed so that we can focus on nation building.
Past and present administrations have not been able to foster unity among over 150 million Nigerians that come from over 250 different cultures and ethnic groups. Many government laws, regulations, policies, programs, structure does not help to change the outlook of Nigerians but have further caused division among them.
Many have said we should abolish state of origin and give every Nigerian the right to live and own a land in any state of their choice.
That may be a part of the solution. But there is a need for governments to carefully consider our diversity, differing origins and opinions as well as beliefs and interests all of which are fast becoming an obstacle to our unity. Political parties and politicians who are instrumental in ensuring that Nigerians become united, need to cooperate in the interest of the nation.
Now that the unity of our country demands urgent attention, leaders of government need to rise up to the occasion and be alive to their responsibility of achieving national unity because tribalism, ethnicity, sectionalism, partisanship, religiosity, federal character, zoning etc are inflicting pains on the people. The fall-out of the presidential elections should teach us that our continued disunity is capable of breaking the country, unless we address the stereotype about one tribe or the other.
We need to have a sovereign national conference as proposed by some nationalists where all Nigerians will decide on what basis they will continue to co-exist. Politicians can no longer run away from this. Many Nigerians no matter their religion, ethnic group or tribe will be glad to have a forum where the future of the country will be discussed. This will offer all aggrieved and marginalised Nigerians the opportunity to vent their anger and express their grievances with a view to finding a lasting solution to the division among Nigeria.
Before now, there have been different calls by concerned citizens for true federalism and national unity. But insufficient attention has been paid by leaders of government to the major responsibility of achieving national unity through cohesion and integration.
The Nigerian political class and politicians need to work towards ensuring the unity of our country so that the prediction of some people that “Nigeria will break or divide along its cultural/ethnic boundaries” will not come to fruition.
Source: Nigerian Compass
Bolaji Samson Aregbeshola,