Opinion: Still on the wait for one Nigeria

by Dozie Nwafor


I cease to give up hope; I refuse to quit working on my quest to self-development, believing that one day I would impact on my nation the evidences of a true nationalist. I expectantly wait for the actualization of ‘one Nigeria’.

Growing up in Nigeria has been one of those rollercoaster experiences. Born in the east, moved briefly to the west and spent most of my growing up and educational pursuit in the north, it’s been quite easy to conclude on the diversity of Nigeria and Nigerians in virtually every ramification.

There are certain episodes that leave indelible evidences on the identity and history of a people, and coming from the Igbo ethnic divide of Nigeria, the events of the infamous civil war between 1967 and 1970 forms part of an inert testimony every similar person shares. Of course I never had any first-hand witness, experience or information of the war, but thanks to history, we are never robed of our story. Still open for contention and debate are the main reasons behind the war, the justification of the need to go into war and the truth that in the end, the war was won in the interest of every Nigerian and indeed humankind. The great Biafran warlord Odumegwu Ojukwu in his Ahiara declaration made a case for the attempted regional secetion as a quest for self-determination. He even took the stress of relating the reception and reaction from the international community to the unending enigma of race that has bewildered man since our epidermal disparity came into our consciousness. In his words, ‘the right to self-determination was good for the Greeks in 1822, for the Belgians in 1839 and for the Central and Eastern Europeans and the Irish in the First world war. Yet it was not good for the Biafrans because we are black’.

The burden to write this piece however did not arise on the premise of this rather unfortunate happening. Instead, the thinker in me has perpetually felt unease at the centrifugal display of discontentment from every group that makes up the Nigerian state. Rather than making progressive achievements, it seems we continuously await the next agitation for regional control and independence from one of the various parts of a country supposed to be one. Even the most nationalistic Nigerian has that bit of regionalism in him and this stands true for every individual of our generation as it is for our highly celebrated founding fathers. Now this leads me to ask if there will ever be a ‘one Nigeria’ in every sense of the words. Fourty-six years from 1967, we still repeatedly deal with cases of ethnic uprisings, regional insurgence and tribalistic massacre; the same things that took us to our lowest point as a nation. Truth be told, every individual feels most comfortable and safe in his or her ethnic divide of the country.

Our identification on the basis of peculiar languages and culture has repeatedly derailed us from the quest to nationalization and ironically succeeded in reminding us of the differences that divide us, rather than the bond that makes us. Still we continue to feel disgruntled with the Nigerian state, questioning the wisdom behind our amalgamation and pleading cases buttressing our regional oppression. A Yoruba man would rather grant favors to another Yoruba man, a Hausa man would appoint another Hausa man in cases of a vacancy in an office, and an Igbo man would award contracts to another of the same ethnic background, relegating to irrelevance the competency, professionalism and academic merit of these individuals.

The bitter truth is that the end to these sectional ideologies seems as far as eternity. Just maybe, we might arrive at self-actualization when we have destroyed the nation history enburdened on us to build. While we may not be the ones that chose our nationality, we have the moral responsibility to ensure the greatness and survival of every Nigerian. If we cannot de-emphasize our ethnic diversity, how then can we make true our claim as giants? As a nation, there is much to achieve, barriers to be broken, potentials to be realized, marks to be made and heights to be attained. Indeed, it is unforgiveable to destroy what you didn’t help build. God gave us a world unfinished so that we might share in the joy of creation. He gave us the challenge of raw materials and not the satisfaction of perfect, finished things. How then do we excuse our misdemeanor if we fail to make great a nation God himself had so aforeplanned.

I cease to give up hope; I refuse to quit working on my quest to self-development, believing that one day I would impact on my nation the evidences of a true nationalist. I expectantly wait for the actualization of ‘one Nigeria’.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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