Editor’s note: Joshua Oyenigbehin, the Legit.ng partner blogger, in this article reveals why Nigeria’s unity may continue to be a mirage
Joshua could be contacted via: https://stationofthought.wordpress.com/ or firstname.lastname@example.org
More details in Legit.ng’s step-by-step guide for guest bloggers.
If Nigeria needs anything urgently to circumvent the present challenges she is grappling with, it will be a national adhesive call unity.
The siege of insurrection, succession threats and clamours, eviction notices, calls for self-determination, resource control, and the scourge of corruption is no doubt overwhelming the sense of brotherhood that has bounded the country together.
The numerous and solution-defying problems of the country have been, time without number, attributed to the loss of the resolve by Nigerians to put away their differences.
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The diversities of interest by different interest groups in Nigeria have made unity in Nigeria an illusion. Different groups with conflicting interests have opposed one another covertly or overtly, to the extent of declaring war on one another.
A typical case is the recent quit notice issued to the Igbo people living in the northern part of the country by some Arewa Youths and the subsequent quit notice by the Middle Belt Youth against Fulani herdsmen.
Nigeria is undeniably falling apart. The country is no longer a state with citizens who have shared interests and goals, but a country of many nations with diverse aspirations, values and ambitions
Nigeria is indubitably the most populous black nation in the world and also a profoundly pluralistic society that is falling apart. To get the country back to sharp, the different and numerous, conflicting component units of the society need to be harnessed and recoupled to give the country a sense of direction and consequently an headway.
The quest to unify the country would be fruitless if the reality of the diversities in Nigeria is not taken cognizance of. These realities, which invariably make the country seems like a marriage experiencing a tempest, have made unity and solidarity in the country unachievable.
The following realities must be discussed and understood in order for us to be able to understand these differences and find a common ground for all to form a sense of belonging on.
1. Ethnic and tribal affiliations
Tribe and Ethnicity is an important feature of the Nigerian society. This cultural reality makes the socio-cultural landscape of the country fascinating and unique. Nigeria has always prided herself as a country with about 250 tribes and other numerous sub-tribes.
It is however, unfortunate that the Nigerian society has not benefited from this cultural endowment, other than the division this feature has brought on her. Most of the interactions Nigerians have with themselves are usually influenced by the tribe they belong to.
Nigerians are more ready to render help to people they share ethnicity with, making them guilty of nepotism and tribalism.
Until the country and all her citizenry purge themselves of all ethnic sentiments and grudge, unifying the country would continue to be a mirage. There is the need to judge everybody based on the intent of their character and merit.
2. Language barrier
I remember wanting to communicate with a Hausa fellow who just came down to Lagos, unfortunately, he didn’t understand English language, apart from his native Hausa language and invariably Arabic language.
Then and there, I realized that the country has difficulties coming to a compromise because we hardly understand ourselves. Although, English language and Pidgin English have done a bit in bridging the language gap among Nigerians, the fact remains that since we don’t share a common local language, there will always be a sense of departure in the different quarters.
3. Political divides
The division in the country is rending the country into bits. The irony of the matter is that, politics which should, in fact, be a binding force through which the citizenry can initiate the changes that they want to see, is a chopping knife that keeps frustrating the urge for One Nigeria.
The diverse political parties and their numerous interests are not helping matters. The quest and thirst for political powers by different groups and individuals have made politics a battle ground where the rule and divide tactic is deployed at will by power seeking politicians.
This is why we need to review how power is acquired and shared in the country in other for all interest group be put into perspectives.
4. Religious bigotry
Nigeria is a notorious and obstinately religious country. This could be a feature that the country can boast about if religious bias does not have a hand in the divided state of the country. The “Holier than Thou” mentality of most religious adherents have put religion in a compromising situation.
Attacks and conflicts which have religious undertones have been experienced in time past, this has made trust among religious adherents in the country as flimsy as paper.
In a country known to be a secular nation, without an official religion according to the constitution, some leaders have continued to favour one religion over the other, like the introduction of Sharia law in some Northern states without considering non-Muslims in the state.
The truth remains that, trust and unity in full view of a multi-religious society like Nigeria can only be achieved when religion remains a private matter and not a state’s affairs.
5. Economic inequality
The leader of the Muslim Right Concern, Professor Akintola, recently stated that: “1 per cent of the Nigerian people consume 85 percent of the Nigerian Wealth” this is the pointer to the contrast of extreme wealth in the midst of massive and widespread poverty.
The gap between the rich at the top of the Nigerian economic hierarchy and those at the rock bottom is huge and it will take decades to bridge this gap. Crime and criminality are on the increase because the poor are disgruntled that their lot is worsening, as they see the rich becoming richer.
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The country cannot make headways if the poor in the society are not pulled out of their poverty to be partakers of the wealth inherent in the country.
6. Regional disparity
There have been series of clashes between Nigerians in the north and those in the south. While those in the south thinks the North is full of arrogant people who think that leadership in the country is their birthright, the north, also are of the view that southerners are a bunch of over-entitled kids who have no values other than the oil money that emanate form the region.
When the Minister of Education recently stated that Nigerian children account for half of children out of school in the world, southerners are quick to say that it is the problem of the north.
7. Historical mishap
There have been diverse views in different quarters of the country as regards the historical experience of the country. While some group blame others and their leaders for their past and present misfortune, other mock other groups for their misfortune.
This historical grudge would continue to be an impediment to the peaceful co-existent of the country if something is not urgently done.
There is an urgent need for History to be made core of the educational sector, for the country’s history be taught objectively to ensure that young people would not only appreciate the efforts of our past heroes, but for them to also see the need to believe in the unity of the country.
The unity of the country is quite important. However, for us as Nigeria to come to a compromise despite our differences, there is the need to understand our differences and to appreciate them as we take conscious effort to make the country work.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that unemployment in Nigeria is a very crucial issue.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Legit.ng.
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Watch a Legit.ng TV video below of Osinbajo speaking about the importance of Nigeria's unity: