Nigeria And The Unity Question By Idris Evuti
Like other nations, Nigeria is also divided along some lines. The citizens are divided along ethnic, regional and religious cleavages. But in Nigeria, these dichotomies are conspicuous and sharp; and to a larger extent they inform the reasoning and sensitivity of the populace, especially the common man. Recently, issues such as the northerners’ ownership of 83 percent of the nations’ oil blocks , girl marriage below the age of eighteen (18), the Taraba State governor snarl-up and where the next president should come from etc; have further brought to the fore how primordial sentiments, sectional and regional identification takes primacy over national interest.
More than 50 years of independence, the government of Nigeria and her leadership are yet to change their templates of promises – every year the story remains the same – they keep drumming to our ears those customary pledges of the provision of good roads, electricity, pipe borne water, improved education and health system. This is unfortunate.
But little do the masses of this nation know that unity is a precursor to the development they’ve being yarning for. We must unite for us to develop. And it is worthy to note that as years pass by; our disunity have continued to widen the gap between us and development on one hand, and governance and accountability on the other. Genuine development presupposes unity. Nigerians have looked forward to God for too long; to solve their problems. Oftentimes, I like to share these words of Abraham Lincoln “….my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” And God has blessed this Nation in all ramifications. It’s high time we start looking inwards for the solutions of our predicaments. This is only possible when we begin to see, smell, feel and recognise evil as evil and vice-versa; regardless of who is involved
In most societies, irrespective of the system of government in place – whether democratic, military, monarchical or theological etc citizens are usually united around some believes and philosophies. For instance, in dictatorial regimes, citizens are united on the basis of their demands for democracy and the need to participate in the business of governance; at least the right to vote. Vivid analogy of this is the Arab-spring that wafted off the sit-tight regimes in some North African countries
But today in Nigeria, there is hardly any ‘unifying factor’ that the populace can enthusiastically and confidently rally around; without having reservations on one another on the bases of regional or religious affiliation. Instead of being objective to a fellow compatriot; the average Nigerian will prefer to start by knowing where the person hails from. And unfortunately this bigotry game only rewards mediocrity against excellence, produces anarchy from peace, and promotes hatred instead of love. However, we had something near to national unity when subsidy on the premium motor spirit (PMS), was withdrawn by the federal government. The nationwide protest against subsidy removal can be said to be the last issue that almost knitted Nigerians on the bases of ‘we feelings’
In all of this, what then is the place of the common man? That is, what does the average Nigerian stands to benefit from sentiments, bigotry or chauvinism? Yes, there might be some level of psychological fulfilments. But, the negative effect far out weights the positive. Because, after all said – and – done in the name of prejudice; the same class of people (average Nigerians) are still coming back to face and live with the realities of unemployment, bad roads, dilapidated hospitals, poor system of education, corruption and oppression. Am always baffled when I come across some people (Nigerians), who cannot confidently assure their selves of three square meals engaging in trivial sentiments, it is ridiculous – indeed suicidal – to be obsessed fanatically
Yes, most of us will continue to blame our public and religious leaders for our disunity. Because, they’ve succeeded in sharpening the edges of the lines that divides us. At the slightest provocation we rain abuses and vehemently assault on one another. But this disunity amongst us; either consciously or sub-consciously, has created a sort of ‘fifth column’ for the ‘rich’ in our society at the detriment of the masses
We must not allow ourselves to be so divided. The forces that unite us are intrinsic and greater than those pulling us apart. The fact that I am from the south, doesn’t make me better in anyway, than the person from the north. Or, because am from the north doesn’t make me superior than those from the other parts. And, because I don’t belong to the ‘ruling class’, or because, I find myself in the lower level of the societal ladder; doesn’t mean I should be bias and see things through the sentimental lens – perpetually.
Of course, there are more issues and arguments, to the unity question of Nigeria; but it’s logical that this piece ends here – with this quote by a blind Islamic poet Muhammed Rumi: “like a sculptor, if necessary, carve a friend out of stone. Realize that your inner sight is blind and try to see a treasure in everyone.”
Idris Evuti tweets: @idrisevuti
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