At the time book writers all over the world refused to give Nigeria any chance, we proved the prophets of doom wrong by conducting one of the most peaceful elections in the history of Africa. The peaceful transition period and the rancor free handing over/swearing-in are testament to the fact that democracy is rooted and widely accepted by all and that Nigeria is ready to lead Africa again. Most worthy of note is the congratulatory message from the main opposition political party, the Peoples Democratic Party PDP to the president and APC soon after the inauguration of the new government. This rare display of political maturity goes to show that the bitterness, acrimony, enmity and the wounds inflicted during the electioneering period is healing-up at a fast pace. Now that electioneering has come and gone, the new administration needs to focus more on things that unite rather than those which divide Nigerians.
The developed countries of the world have something in common; they have successfully removed tribal, religious and ethnic considerations from their polity. Americans relates to themselves and regard themselves as Americans and not as adherent of different religions, tribes or ethnic groups. No doubt, Nigeria has been so divided along tribal, religions and ethnic line since independence, this division was even made worse and prominent by events in the build up to the last general elections. Since 1960, all the crisis and wars that had occurred in Nigeria were either caused by tribal sentiments, ethnic chauvinism or religious intolerance.
For Nigeria to develop and catch up with some of the fast developing Nations of the world, there has to be a deliberate national policy aimed at down-playing issues of tribe, religion and ethnicity, like is the case in developed countries. Nigerian can not develop to the extent of leading Africa and earning honor and respect among comity of Nations if tribal, ethnic and religious considerations still reign supreme in our day to day dealings. With exception to Lagos and Kano states, I am yet to see an Igbo man contest and win a political position in Sokoto, Gigawa, Zamfara, Ogun or Osun states. It is very difficult for a Christian to emerge as a flag bearer of a major political party in some states in Northern Nigeria and its almost impossible for a Muslim to emerge as a gubernatorial or senatorial candidate in Enugu, Anambra or Akwa Ibom State.
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An Hausa man is treated as a non-indigene in Abia, regardless of the fact that he was born and has spent all his life there. An indigene of Sokoto cannot contest for a political position in Bayelsa, not because he isn’t qualified, but simply because his forefathers aren’t from that part of the country. But for the recent constitutional amendment carried out by members of the national assembly where issues of citizenship by marriage was addressed, It was always an issue for a woman from Kogi state who is married to a man from Imo state to be accorded the full privilege and right of an indigene of her husband’s state of origin.
Barrack Obama became a citizen of the United States of America by birth. Even though his forefathers weren’t Americans, he enjoyed the full rights and privileges of an American citizen which made it possible for him to aspire and subsequently became the first black-American president, this is the hallmark of a great and a highly developed society, Nigeria should learn from this example, so that we can be great again. Tribal, religious and ethnic considerations in political and appointive positions is the reason why we have continued to depreciate in values and development, it is the reason why quality men and woman can not emerge as leaders and it is the reason why corruption and insecurity is prevalent. The rule of law, good governance and quality leadership has been sacrificed on the altar of tribe, religion and ethnicity.
The 2006 National census was conducted devoid of religion, this was because the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in his own wisdom decided that religion should be excluded from the head count. Even though some Nigerians faulted and disagreed with that decision, I think it was a step in the right direction. As we prepare for another round of census, there is need for us to not only remove religion from the head count, but it would do us a lot of good if tribe and ethnicity is removed from the census. The Rwandan genocide which has become an epitome of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man in the history of Africa, was facilitated due to the fact that the two warring ethnic tribes of Hutu and Tutsi are inscribed and boldly written on the national identity cards of every Rwandan. This made it possible for people to be easily identified, killed or maimed. President kigali was quick to identify this, and as soon as he became president, he urgently ordered that new national identity card devoid of ethnic tribe be issued to all Rwandans. Today in Rwandan, it is difficult to know who is Hutu or Tutsi, the only ethnic tribe that exist is Rwanda.
Considering the damage that tribal sentiments, ethnic chauvinism and religious intolerance had done to this country, there’s need for us to learn from the example of Rwanda in removing those entities that divides us. Regardless of any part of Nigeria we find ourselves, all should be accorded the full right and privilege of indigene and citizen of Nigeria. Nigeria should be our only tribe, religion and ethnicity. The current citizenship certificates being issued at the various local government councils should be abolished. Emphasis should be on the state of resident and not on the state of Origin. It doesn’t make any sense that after spending more than 14 years of my life in Kwara state, my citizenship certificate still refers me to my local government council in Kogi State, I am regarded and treated as a non-indigene and I can not freely contest for any political position, even though the constitution allows me to do so.
Nigeria’s quest for development, greatness and leadership in Africa entails and requires that tribe, religion and ethnicity be abolished from our day to day consideration. Until a Muslim can freely aspire and become a governor in Ebonyi, Enugu or Delta state, and a Christian is allowed to aspire and became a governor in Kano, Kebbi or Zamfara State can our path to greatness be accelerated. Elective and appointive leaders should be allowed to emerge regardless of tribal, religious or ethnic considerations, but based on potentials, past achievements, honesty, integrity and popularity. We did not choose our tribes or ethnicity, and majority of Nigerians did not choose their religion. Many are Christians or Muslims because they were born into it. An Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo, Tiv or Ebira person is such, because he was born into that tribe and ethnic group. Hence, Nigerians should not be judged on the basis of their tribe, religion or ethnicity. If an Igbo man from Anambra has what it takes to govern Benue state and make it a better place, he should be allowed to do just that. Nigeria should be our only tribe, religion and ethnic group.
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