NIGERIA AND TRIBALISM.

There is no way we would talk about Dealing with the Daily Viscititude of Life without reminding ourselves of our Nation Nigeria. When our National Anthem was adopted in 1978 I wonder what was going on in the hearts of Benedict E. Odiase. when he was surpervising the compostion of the National Anthem by the Nigerian Police force.By all standard we should say that our Anthem envisions a Great nation with patrotic citizen and Unity as our strength.Stanza 2 of our Anthem states and i Quote :O God of creation

Direct our noble cause Guide our leaders right Help our youth the truth to know In love and honesty to grow And living just and true Great lofty heights attain To build a nation where peace And justice shall reign.

Irrespective of out tribe and tongues,we should remember that we need to build a nation where peace and Justice Reigns

The Greatest undoing of Nigeria today unfortunately has been mistaken for Corruption and in the Real sense of it ,TRIBALISM HAS BEEN THE Genesis of all our misfortunes. Our Heros past has in all honesty tried their best, but unfortunately ,with all due respect,Tribalism started with the likes of Nnamdi Azikwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo who even in one way or the other tribalised our politics because of Greed and personal Ambitions. I am here sharing this piece out of extreme frustration, caused by my countrymen’s incurable obsession with tribal identity. In Nigeria today, tribalism has been elevated to the status of a national culture which dominates national discourse, controls how we think and talk, and determines what we oppose or support. It is promoted by the most educated and powerful among us, embraced by the young and the old, passed from generation to generation, and has even crept into our constitution.In my own understanding, tribalism flourishes in Nigeria mainly because it is an effective TOOL that gives the user an edge in the eternal struggle by the elite and educated classes to gain government patronage (i.e. appointments). After getting the appointment, tribalism is again used as a cover to abuse that office, and then to escape justice after leaving the office. A Nigerian who is aspiring to public office would say things like “my tribe has never been given that post!” or “my tribe is marginalised!” Soon after, the newspapers (always willing accomplices) pick up the mantra and make a lot of noise until he gets the appointment. He then abuses that office and enriches himself while any criticism of him is dismissed as bad belle from opposing tribes and sundry detractors. Finally, any attempt to bring our appointee to justice after leaving office will be labelled (again, with the help of our loud-mouthed newspapers) as a selective persecution of his tribe. As a result, our ex-appointee will get away with a generous plea bargain or even go scot-free. This cycle of events has been happening before our eyes for decades There are many everyday issues in our national life that illustrate our blind obsession with ethnicity. The agitations in the Niger Delta easily come to mind. Granted there are legitimate issues of poverty and environmental pollution in the Niger Delta but I don’t understand why people portray them as ‘Ijaw’ issues or as ‘Ogoni’ issues. I don’t see what the issues have to do with the tribe of the people living there. In a normal country, these problems will be described in their proper context as issues of poverty and pollution, caused largely by corruption in state and local government administration in those areas, and by unregulated activities of oil companies. However, in Nigeria, they are presented as tribal issues as if rival tribes elsewhere have deliberately inflicted harm on the tribes of the Niger Delta.

A lot of northerners, including some very enlightened People, saw the rivalry between Obasanjo and Atiku only in terms of a southerner fighting a northerner and they felt a natural inclination to line up behind Atiku in that epic tribal war, as they saw it. All explanations that these two people were birds of the same feather and they have conspired against Nigerians for seven years and only fell apart because of a contest for power, fell on deaf ears.

Nigerians always campaign for the freeing of their tribesmen who are in trouble with the law without any regard to whatever offense the person has committed. Accordingly, the Yoruba (including a Nobel laureate) campaigned for the release of OPC leader Gani Adams from jail not minding the fact that he was involved in many violent acts. The Igbo insist that MASSOB leader Ralph Uwazuruike must be released from detention even though he campaigned for the dismemberment of the country; something that even the most democratic countries in the world would not tolerate. But being an Igbo they have to stand up for him. The northerners on the other hand, campaign for the release of Hamza Al-Mustapha and company. Every tribe simply campaigns for its own, rightly or wrongly. Tribalism is often used to thwart the judicial process. What is purely a criminal offense is deliberately and mischievously given a political or tribal coloration to get the culprit off the hook.

The appointment of the then Acting Inspector General of Police is another case in point. The Igbo caused an uproar based on their claim that an Igbo man has been sidelined, only for us to hear later that the man who was appointed (Okiro) was also of Igbo origin! Around the same time the Acting IG was appointed, a relatively young Igbo man was appointed to head the Federal Road Safety Commission and Igbo men were still heading the Immigration Service and Central Bank, and Igbo women were heading NAFDAC and Bureau for Public Enterprises and lately, the Federal Civil Service. In spite of all this, prominent Igbo journalists and commentators were alleging marginalization. The failed warlord Late Odumegwu Ojukwu even made a renewed call for self-determination.

Finally i want to say that The tragedy with the Nigerian situation is that it is the highly educated people, those who really should know better, that propagate tribalism. Highly rated newspaper journalists write articles defending their tribal interests and running down other groups. A lot of them write that they don’t even believe in Nigeria. They refer to their own tribes in lofty and bombastic terms, calling them ‘races’ or ‘ethnic nationalities’. Grandiose terms like ‘Yoruba race’ and ‘Ijaw ethnic nationality’ are commonplace these days and are uttered by professors, PhD holders, retired judges, so-called elder statesmen and prominent journalists. I have always had this tot that there would be a bloody revolution in Nigeria someday,but over the last 3 years my thinking has changed and i have come to realize that we have a revolution of the Mind,this starts with YOU,MYSELF AND OUR VARIOUS FAMILIES…..

Let’s Join Hands together and make Nigeria Great!!!

Presented by OLULODUN “AFRICA” AYO at the Grand Finale of Youth Affairs 2013.

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