I will try and make this very laconic as possible –
“Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress” so reads her motto. The motto refers to the Unity of the diverse people of the nation and Faith in its continued existence, in Peace and Prosperity. The foundation of this great country was built on her ETHNIC diversity.
“As a nation, our strength has always been embedded in our unity in diversity. Nigeria is home to all and we must continue to see ourselves as brothers and sisters in a united nation”. – This is an excerpt from the words of Kogi state governor Alh. Yahaya Bello in response to the aftermath of the recent ultimatum issued by Arewa youth groups for all Igbo currently residing in any part of northern Nigeria to relocate within three months.
Contrariwise, citizens of this country have gradually forgotten about that sense of national unity. We are so “divided” so-to-say that we tend to ascribe any occurrences to ethnic and religion prejudices. This issue is deplorable, degradable and disheartening. For instance, recently I was in a commercial bus en route to Ibadan. As usual there were several money-sucking police check points at strategic places. We got to a police check point and the driver refused to drop his stipend. The police officer got furious and said judging by the driver dress mode; “You this “so-called” Igbos, you dey always wan play smart, abi?” The driver then reply swiftly saying; “It’s only a Yoruba man that will want to eat where he has not worked”. Doleful!
“GONE ARE THOSE DAYS WHEN OUR DIVERSITY IS OUR BEAUTY”
Being heterogeneous has always been our excuse (government & the masses) when we get things wrong. But at times I sit back and ask myself questions – Is Nigeria the only heterogeneous state in the world? The answer to that is “No”, then I proceed and ask – Are all other heterogeneous states also experiencing the same level of degradation and disunity such as ours? The answer to that as well is “No”. An example of such is the Republic of India. She is the second most populous country in the world with over 1.2 billion people. Just like Nigeria, the people of India are diverse both culturally and religiously. Yet, India is today is among the elite countries in the world, having a huge economy base rated sixth-largest in the world. Likewise, Canada, Australia, United States of America, Colombia, United Kingdom, Netherlands, South Africa, etc. these are all countries with cultural diversity, and yet doing well for themselves internally and even on the global community.
Then one begins to ask; What then is holding Nigeria and Nigerians backward? Where exactly did we get it wrong? Why are ethnic group in this country having their individual vanguard or pressure groups as it may? Why must we fill-in our ethnic and religion background on official forms? When did we get so divided?
As a concerned Nigerian, I’m putting it across to every one of us that what exactly do you see as the root to this conundrum. Let’s share our thought and foster a way forward thereafter. Because the SOLUTION to every problem lies in the source.
Written By Oyekanmi Abiodun Waris
A student of Polical Science of Study The University of Ibadan.