Think Again! Nigeria is Blessed and not Cursed for Her Diversity!
The time has come for us to confront the pundits about their long-held and unfounded platitude that our diversity is a weakness and a threat to our national unity. We have watched long enough as they sell us this idea as being responsible for our myriad of problems. At the onset of every political instability or religious strife, it gets a first mention.
How long will they continue to convince the Nigerian of the future that this is true? This we must reject. Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba people must reject the notion that our peace can only be ultimately found in our separation. This thinking is an inherent weakness.
The voices of our heroes past, if contrary to progress must be silenced. We must call into question Sir Tafawa Balewa when he said in 1948 “Since 1914, the British government has been trying to make Nigeria into one country, but the Nigerian people themselves are historically diverse in their backgrounds, religious beliefs and customs, and do not show themselves any signs of willingness to unite. Nigerian unity is only a British invention”
Obafemi Awolowo also deserves scrutiny in his statement “Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical location. There are no Nigerians in the sense that there are Indians, English, Welch, French. The word Nigeria is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within the boundaries of Nigeria and those who do not.”
What bothers me is this: Are we the only country with ethnic or religious diversity that our progress and peace should be sabotaged? Personally, I believe our diversity is a strength we are yet to explore. But we can’t explore its possibilities with our current outlook.
I want to bring our attention to nations that have embraced and exploited their diversity. Singapore is one country that has flourished with a multi-tribal society. They have been able to give equality to all Singaporeans regardless of age, tribe or religion. America is another country that displays the wisdom of handling complex diversity. A sign of ongoing victory is the emergence of the first black president, Barack Obama. They have an intentional immigrant system that sells “the American dream” – You can be, do or have anything regardless of your race, language, sex or religion.
The model used by these countries can be found in a clear system of nation building established on five ideologies:
Let’s take a brief look at identity. Identity speaks to an understanding that people must see themselves primarily as citizens of the nation, and that any original identification with a tribe or nation must seize. What this implies is that difference or variation is subordinated to a unifying national identity.
For Nigeria, Identity will be achieved when we begin to instinctively think – I’m a Nigerian and I will promote her interest as a matter of religious devotion and not the interest of my religion, tribe or geographical location. THIS SHOULD BE THE REALITY!