Opinion: Tribalism is the main problem with Nigeria (Part 1)

by Jerome Samson

Nigeria-map

In the face of this quagmire, we can only identify one root cause of our national woes. Tribalism! We (Nigerians) are a cacophony of tribal singers! In a country with about 170 million people and more than 600 different ethnic groups, it has been impossible for us as a people to present a united front.

Just this week over 40 innocent, helpless and defenseless school children were brutally murdered in their sleep by the Boko Haram terrorist group. This and other senseless killings that have defiled every sane attempt by the government are fuelled by the effort of politicians who have vowed that the nation will remain ungovernable if power does not return to ‘them’. More to this, the frontline political parties seem to be divided along this sentiments and tribal bias with attendant accusations, counter accusation and constant name calling.

The unfortunate reality staring us in the face is that we are unitedly divided and dividedly united. Call it a forced marriage made possible by lord Lugard and his wife on Lugard’s love bed decades ago. This forced espousal has led to a daily painful intercourse with strange bed fellows. And just like King Solomon may attest that anything (maybe not everything) could be possible under the intoxication of savoured feminine passion.

In the face of this quagmire, we can only identify one root cause of our national woes. Tribalism! We (Nigerians) are a cacophony of tribal singers! In a country with about 170 million people and more than 600 different ethnic groups, it has been impossible for us as a people to present a united front.

Tribalism means man supporting his people to who he belongs whether they are right or wrong, oppressing or oppressed; belonging to this group can be due to kith and kin, ethnicity, color, birth place, citizenship, school of thought, or a group of people with common interests.

Tribalism is the feeling of being better than others, and that others are of lower class. Like in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where we are exposed to the thought that all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. So, that person that has this feeling of tribalism thinks so highly of himself and of those to whom he belongs. This is not to say that such feeling of brotherhood is totally off base. Not at all. But where such fraternity becomes detrimental to unity of the whole, then it becomes corrupt.
In Nigeria, tribalism has become a force that is more ascendant than nuclear bombs. The emergence of Boko Haram in our present day society is rooted in it. Militancy in the Niger Delta is informed by tribal sentiments, the same with the OPC and Bakassi. Tribalism nourishes terrorism. We don’t need to look far, that is the root.

The selection of public office holders that have plunged the country into darkness is a twin brother of tribalism in the government circle. In Nigeria, you will find people in high places dolling out contracts to inept contractors because of tribal affinity instead of genuine qualification and competence. The present administration at some point had to face the problem of ‘how can a minority group rule over us?’ ( Note: them, us)

A country should not make some to work extra-ordinarily hard just to get by while some are virtually given the key to the government coffers to enrich themselves at will in the name of ‘we are born to rule’. This is one of the major reasons why Nigeria is yet to achieve a true “one Nigeria.”

It was tribalism that indirectly engendered the Nigerian civil war and indirectly gives birth to the present evil called “quota system” and step brother called “state of origin.” These are direct products, consciously or unconsciously designed out of mediocrity to model the ruin of Nigeria. This fuelled the growth of National inequality and anger of perceived injustice. One of the unfortunate characteristics of tribalism is this unnecessary competition with other tribes.

The Yoruba becomes “us” and the Igbo’s and Hausa become “them”. The North says power must return to the region as if any tribe has a sole right to occupy the Nigerian seat of power. A Niger Deltan is elected and hell is let loose because he is not from ‘our region’.

This in truth is what led to most of our problems and in turn it leads to the most evil of Nigeria traits – religious clashes and most recently terrorism.

The belief in the superiority of one tribe and the weakness of others has led to various untold number of wars in Nigeria.
To prove superiority and to consider other tribes as low-grades is actually wicked. The Igbo man is equal to the Northerner and a Yoruba man is equal to both. That is who we are, people of equal rights and status.

If the Boko Haram insurgence must come to an end, if ethnic clashes must be eradicated from amongst us and if Nigeria must progress beyond what we see, we must deliberately toll the path of being our brothers’ keepers. First by realizing that we are brothers. That is if such realization will ever exist. We must move from this thwarted thought line of enthroning evil by our actions and inactions.

We all have a common destiny whether from the north, the south, the east or the west. So it seems. The realization of the fact that we are all victims of economic imperialism and foreign vested interests should prompt and persuade us to educate ourselves by all means of the need for oneness of Nigeria, and realize that geography is no barrier to national cooperation and mutual understanding.

Only in this can we successfully bring to an end the evil of terrorism, militancy, ethnic and religious hostilities.
We are all Nigerians.

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

One comment

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