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Divisive rhetorics and future of Nigeria

Published by The Nation on Sun, 21 Jul 2019


I recall with nostalgia the lines of our former National Anthem, Nigeria we hail thee! Our own dear native land! Though tribe and tongue may differ in brotherhood we stand. I recall also with faint memory growing up in a remote village in Bendel State after the Nigerian Civil War in the 1970s with the slogan of the three Rs (Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Re-integration). I further recall stories we were told of the genesis of the crises of ethno-religious tensions and the beginning of the pogrom that became the Nigerian Civil war.It all started by the orchestration of the political elites in blind pursuit of power and greed. Before the independence, there was no inter ethnic resentment and animosity as Nigerians across the divides lived in relative harmony doing business together across regional boundaries. Independence brought with it political booty and opportunities that the major ethnic nationalities saw as their birth right which they mismanaged thereby heating up the polity. This made some young patriotic but misguided exuberant military officers to stage the first coup de tat that changed the texture of Nigerian polity for forever, luring the military into politics.Since the military dabbled into politics, Nigeria has never been the same again as the ghost of the military still rule us from the grave. Nigerian elites operate like political scavengers without skill as they depend solely on politics and political patronage. They live ostentatious life which can only be sustained through corruption and pillaging of our common patrimony. Those elements that have plundered this country and rob us of peaceful co-existence and harmony are the political class, the religious leaders; Christians and Muslims alike, traditional rulers and rogue intellectuals and tribal ideologues.Recently, a prominent leader and a governor of a state was quoted to have told his audience of young listeners that we have two Nigeria with his pedestrian statistics in demography and social disequilibrium between the two Nigeria of his mindset. Sadly, the elites have succeeded in brainwashing the ordinary and deprived Nigerians to see themselves through the prism of religion and ethnicity with irreconcilable differences. Matters are made worst today with social media where unprocessed news and pictures which are easily manipulated travel with the speed of light. Toxic bile of ethnic hatred are being circulated to the extent that some socio-cultural ethnic organizations are calling their kinsmen to come back home from other regions.It is a truism that the current APC led government has mismanaged our diversity more than any other government in the history of our country. If we continue on this path, it is certainly going to leave the country wounded if we are able to manage the aftermath of the chaos that will follow. Calling for the brake up of the country and promoting ethnic identity as against national identity will not solve our socio-political problems. Contrary to the sermon of two Nigeria and ethnic jingoism, we have a clear dichotomy and distinction of two tribes in Nigeria; the rich and the poor; the haves and the have-nots. We have the hoi polloi who slave as civil servants and gardeners to the rich privilege elite that manipulate the naivety and ignorance of our people, selling hatred and using religion as opium to sedate the masses.If Nigeria breaks up today, the El Rufais and Fani Kayodes have a secured place while the masses set against one another bear the brunt of the catastrophe of the chaotic milieu that will follow. Our diversity is not our problem but our leaders who lie virtually on every subject matter on earth are. They falsify and lie from birth certificate to academic qualifications and indeed, on every matter of life. We hardly have any honest official data on anything. We lie so much so that lying has become a second nature to us that we are beginning to believe our lies. The call by some group for their kith and kin to come back home to their place of ethnic origin from other parts of the country forebodes an ill omen of catastrophic proportion. That was how the Nigerian civil war started and history seems to be repeating itself in the selfsame manner.A true patriot and a leader has no reason to promote ethnic agenda or project a religious preference or dominance to the annoyance and suspicion of other ethnic nationalities of the federating units. A nationalist must have a measured calibration in the entire regions of the country building bridges of unity and not equate loyalty and support to a number of vote cast for him in an election. The people that have brought the nation to its knee today are from the six geopolitical zones; they are the political elite and their minions, traditional rulers, religious leaders and the top military brass that are used muscle citizens to submission. They have impoverished our people and are responsible for the insecurity that has refused to go.We may find it convenient to blame herdsmen whether you add the ethnicity of the herdsmen or not but the truth is that crime and criminality is not defined by gene or DNA of a group. We must first believe the problems exist and as much as possible, the state must not overly appear to protect one ethnic group against others or give preferential treatment to a section of the country. Our language must be tampered and less bellicose in accommodation of one another even though we may have some cultural differences and other features. It is not going to be possible for one ethnic group in this country today to maintain absolute dominance and expect to be at peace with itself; it is not going to work.The heightened ethnic tension being promoted especially by the so-called prominent citizens and ethnic irredentists is going to further fuel insecurity of a nature that will make Boko Haram pale into insignificant moonlight play. The government style of manipulating news items and resort to propaganda have aggravated fake news and hate speech and it is not going to be solved by bullying the citizens who control their communication space in the social media. It is time the government engaged the citizenry in a genuine search for solution to the problem of insecurity.Nigerian should take on the elite and political behemoth that are strangulating our country and wasting our huge wealth and resources while diverting our attention through divisive rhetoric that has the potential to make the country lie prostrate. The youths should find something more useful to do rather than circulate dubious animation of social media fraud of hate speech.Mike Kebonkwu Esq08055065075
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