Oshey…First rant yooo!!! This column is our way of helping us all blow off steam and so if you also feel the need to rant…kindly send your rant to firstname.lastname@example.org and we definitely will give it webtime now to my rant!!
I feel an urge to do a bit of ranting here!
If we are all either Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa or Ijaw or Kanur or Fulani or Ibibio or Tiv or Ebira or Edo or Gwari or Jukun or Igala or Isoko or Idoma or Urhobo or Ogoni or Gbagyi or Efik or Munguzawa or Koma or Igede or Nupe or Itsekiri or Jamaican Nigerian or Brazillian Nigerian or Asian Nigerian or Aros or Annang or Bariba or Berbers or Dendi or Ekoi or Fon or Fula (lol You get my point there’s a lot of Ethnic Groups)
WHO THEN IS NIGERIAN?
I’ve been recently bothered with the level of ignorance about diversity in Nigeria. Nigeria as we all know is a Super Country not simply because we are the Country with the leading economy in Africa (Not to Brag) but also because our ethnic, cultural, religious, age etc. composition is dynamic in its own way! This allows for significant differences across this Land Mass called Nigeria………did I say Land Mass? Yes, I did! Land Mass because that is the only thing that has agreed its Nigerian or am I wrong?
The last elections in Nigeria was an eye opener to the backwardness of the Nigerian populace in terms of our knowledge of diversity. I was particularly shocked to hear derogatory and discriminatory comments as regarding choice of candidates. People saying they were only voting for Goodluck Jonathan because he was Christian or because he was from a particular Land Mass that is first Nigeria before Bayelsa! or for Muhammadu Buhari because he’s Nigerian (Fulani/Hausa), and since the Counter coup of 1966 that saw so many Nigerian(Igbo) people slaughtered, the Nigerians(Igbo) have ‘forgiven but not forgotten’ and also since Chief Obafemi Awolowo was instrumental to Nigeria’s Victory against Biafra, The Nigerians(Igbo) still see the Nigerians(Yoruba) as Sly and cannot be trusted.
Or is it about how Nigerians (Christians) and Nigerians (Muslims) continuously get at themselves for differences in their various belief systems, and basing socio-political decisions and opinions on the name your God or Savior goes by.
Much Recently, the clamoring of Various Nigerian Ethnic groups for ‘restructuring’ and Cessation and the failure of the common man to see that this is just for selfish reasons of the various ethnic leaders is a major pointer however disheartening to where we are with our Diversity.
It is rather unfortunate as a country divided against itself cannot stand and the words that must not be said are gradually being rapidly said – ‘Let everyone take their bags and go’. Such dangerous statements that can only be attained with the blood of innocent Nigerians *Refer to the civil war of 1967-1970*. We forget the pre-war bloodshed as well as the bloodshed during the war, I was not alive then but the memories and stories of the war remains evergreen in my millennial mind.
Last year the nation held its breath for 1st of October to see what will be of the Arewa Youth Ultimatum to the Nigerians(Igbos)in the north. What was even more disheartening, is the lackadaisical approach of our leadership to such a ravenous act by Nigerians towards Nigerians. Our government is turning a deaf ear knowing fully well the unstable nature of the north and the potential for this to turn into another case of massive bloodshed if not well managed.
All this banter Hiatus and differences have made me question the very fabrics that bind our unity or the damages that may be caused by the failures that is Our Diversity; therefore raising an important question,
Is Nigeria’s Diversity a Blessing or a Curse?
Well here’s my answer!
I fail to accept that our Diversity is a curse…………. I will rather say that the differences we have is fueled by greed and the failure of the common man to hear his Nigerian brother out. We have failed to see ourselves as first being Nigerians before anything else. We see ourselves as DIFFERENT pieces of the large puzzle that is Nigeria.
We see ourselves as Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw, Kanuri, Fulani, Ibibio, Tiv, Ebira, Edo, Gwari, Jukun, Igala, to name a few. Not forgetting that the middle belt of Nigeria is well known for its diversity, with many of other remaining groups living in this part of the country.
Although Nigeria is rich in her diverse ethnicity, many of these groups mentioned above live segregated from others. Most ethnic groups in Nigeria have formed illegal vigilante or militia groups Re: The Fulani Herdsmen wahala, protecting their interests from other groups within the country. This sadly is the Nature of my country and my heart bleeds, meanwhile we can all put aside our differences and see ourselves as One great nation (easier said than done), United by our various heritages under the singular umbrella that is our Great Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I quickly refer to a conversation a Nigerian man had with a Nigerian friend of mine Ajoke Emekene
Man: Hey, Fine girl, Whats Your Name?
Ajoke: Ajoke is my name.
Man: Where are you from?
Ajoke: I am Nigerian
Man: Of course I know you’re Nigerian, I meant what ethnic group are you?
Ajoke: *Now looking irritated* I am Nigerian!!
Joke’s response to a question that was obviously sourcing to know what geographical part of Nigeria she was from was a classic example of what it means to be Nigerian, as she pointed out that she is First Nigerian thereby putting aside whatever differences or stereotypes that she may have been defined by based on the landmass that her great grandfather may have decided to make camp and embracing the differences and stereotypes that may arise from her being Nigerian.
There is more to gain from embracing our true nature of being Nigerian than embracing the smaller pieces that is our various ethnic differences. The moment we begin to take our differences beyond diversity and explore our similarities we would enjoy the dividends of Diversity.
Even the bible backs this up in Ecclesiastes 4v12 A person standing alone (as an ethnic group) can be attacked and defeated, but two (ethnic groups) can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord (Ethnic Group) is not easily broken.
If the Arewans, Biafrans and Oduduwans etc can stand together and join hands together don’t you think we would build this great nation to become a Global phenomenon to contend with. TBH If we cannot agree on this simply complicated matter, what would happen when we have decisions to make about launching a nuclear weapon or fighting of nuclear attacks? Before you nuke me out of planet earth all I am trying to say is there are bigger fishes to fry instead of getting distracted by trivial issues we can settle by just seeing the bigger picture.
If we all see Unity in our diversities, abandon our individual ethnic stereotypes and embrace each other as important pieces of the bigger picture which is Nigeria? we can move forward to do greater things like end corruption or even start a real space program (LOL – Big dreams, I know).
Always Remember there’s something everyone can offer. Don’t Discriminate Remember we are all First Nigerians.