A Country Miles Away From Destruction By Yakub Jide Yahaya

Arise o Nigerians to the clarion call navigating you towards reintegration as opposed to the destruction miles away. Our history as a nation was built on compromise, subordination and ethno-religious bigotry coupled with external interests. A nation like Nigeria with enormous natural resources and unmatchable manpower in Africa continues to wallow in poverty, corruption and underdevelopment.

I am writing this Op-ed as an alarm to a ticking time bomb hovering over the head of my beloved country Nigeria. If truly Nigerians are “called to obey” as the national anthem echoes, here is the first order to be obeyed in order to truly serve our fatherland. Serving our fatherland as simple as saving millions of lives ready to be lost in the looming path of destruction Nigeria has embarked on since 1960. The civil war between Nigeria and Biafra ought to be a lesson to many but the history is not being taught in schools rather, these histories are being told by the most impacted group, which in line continues to build resentment suffocating a unified Nigeria. The growing agitation of the Igbo through Biafra is a prime example.

Nigeria, known to be home to over 250 ethnic groups and over 500 languages, has chosen three main ethnic groups.  Namely; Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo as the face of the country, while the ethnic groups whose resources continue to provide the nation’s revenue is underrepresented and rewarded. The struggle and hard work of some minority ethnic leaders like Ken Saro-Wiwa and many others continue to go in vain as the continuous abuse of their resources becomes a norm by the majority ethnic groups. The inability to match the population of the three major ethnic groups should never be a reason to render the minority ethnic group voiceless. To have a unified, progressive and peaceful Nigeria entails the engagement of all ethnic groups in the governance and distribution of its resources. 

As Nigeria continues to embark on this path of destruction, it is important to call our (Nigerians) attention to the genocide in Rwanda, which as a result of ethnic differences and hunger for power, led to the death of millions of people in Rwanda. Nigeria had a fair share of this act in the 1960s during the Biafra war but the growing heat coming ahead would surpass that of the Biafra War and the genocide in Rwanda. 

The three dominant ethnic groups whose geographical location contributes little or nothing to the revenue of Nigeria are power hungry to bring each other down. Nigeria has converted communal policing into ethnic policing. Each ethnic group now has its militia protecting its group as against other ethnicities. This act shows the looming disaster ahead of the nation. Nepotism has infiltrated the Nigerian institutions, and this continues to brew the growing tension between all ethnic groups. Tribalism is the new political card for attaining political positions and the northern part of Nigeria continue to impose itself through its population to determine leadership during general elections. 

It is important we understand there was an internal struggle during the agitation for independence between Dr Nnamdi Azikwe, Awolowo and Sir Amadu Bello before attaining independence in 1960. This path towards independence was clearly not built on equality or equity, rather it was built on the sole goal of attaining political independence from the colonial master. They aimed at fixing this division afterwards, but the political life of Nigeria took another turn with military coups, civil war and governance. This path has to be restructured and rebuilt on a tribalism free consensus aimed towards a unified Nigeria. The tearing down of existing constitution with the goal of inculcating the interest of all ethnic groups regardless of population size, religion and language. The weighing up of going back to a confederal system, which would inline allow each state the power to control her resources (considering the fact that Nigeria currently relies on petroleum rents and royalties).

The Nigeria of today is miles away from destruction, the continual patching, misplaced priorities as reflected in her policies and lending will only continue to speed up its arrival towards destruction. Nigeria can convert itself to an “Ark of Noah”; we just have to put future generations into perspective because rape, death, hunger, violence will benefit none of these ethnic groups.

Africa cannot afford another tribal infused massacre, Nigeria as a country cannot afford another civil war, the youth deserves a bright future and not a future filled with trauma and socio-psychological stress as a result of the greediness of our elders (leaders). 

As the coat of arms depicts “Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress”

God Bless Africa,

God Bless Nigeria.

Yakub Jide Yahaya is a Peace and Conflict Analyst

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