by Tanko Yakasai
When governments become an organized conspiracy to perpetuate ignorance and poverty among its people that have natural fault lines such as Nigeria, then the common outcome will be a catastrophic disunity and polarization that we are witnessing today.
There are so many ills bedeviling Nigeria, right from day one to this very moment as I write this article. Even a 7-year-old child can name these problems, ranging from corruption, indiscipline, everyday crime and what have you. But to me personally, looking back at the ups and downs we’ve been through as a nation, I can comfortably say that disunity is the number one factor that breeds all the other issues breaking us apart.
Disunity on its own is a by product of a more sinister tools used by so many tyrants and rulers all across the world, over several generations and civilizations to ensure a complete subjugation and degradation of citizens to being perpetual subjects. It is a by-product of the twin evils of ignorance and poverty. Whereas it can be safely argued that the primal instincts of a human to identify with something he is familiar with rather than something different or alien, serves as the major cause of disunity amongst people of different religions and/or ethnicity, education and relative comfort helps to keep those primal instincts in check. This therefore allows for constructive engagement and matured plural democracy based on the best tenets of freedom. However, When governments become an organized conspiracy to perpetuate ignorance and poverty among its people that have natural fault lines such as Nigeria, then the common outcome will be a catastrophic disunity and polarization that we are witnessing today.
Disunity, as I understand it in Nigeria stem from two different roots, the first and the most dangerous one is that of religion. When you talk about both religions, (Christianity and Islam) there’s no compromise. Very few of us talk of it objectively without being provocative, it is also worth mentioning the fact that within each religion there’s dis-unity, but not as firey as between the two major faiths. Then the second one is that of ethnicity/tribalism. The majority of us are either Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba or the ethnicity that we originated from, and not NIGERIANS. The issue here is not that we ALL must be of the same tribe, region or religion. If God wanted it to be so, He would have made it so. But the fundamental thing here, to borrow a quote from Dr Aliyu Tilde in one of his current articles, he describes a Nigerian as someone who has “the right to live anywhere in the country, to run any business, to associate with anyone, to practice any religion, to hold any belief and much more all without hindrance” which is basically what the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees us all.
All of these apply only to the majority of us as ordinary Nigerians. But the few political elites ruling us are united in their looting, and they don’t see themselves as any of these classes, i.e religion, ethnic or region, as mentioned above, they see themselves as looters! They capitalise on and intentionally promote this disunity among us so as to continue their looting without any hitch, something they’ve been quite successful in doing. The 2011 elections are perfect examples of how these elites, these looters, use religion and ethnicity in pitching nigerians against themselves while they have their way. The elections totally became about a Christian from the south contesting against a Muslim from the north. At no point was it about issues, it lacked substance, something all the candidates were guilty of, while the rest of us cheered them, only to be biting our fingers in regret now.
In conclusion, I want to draw our attention to the fact that the polity is already heated up, the drums of the 2015 elections are beating faster and louder, and these selfish looters will still want to use this divide and rule trick, it is entirely up to us to either, learn from history, or allow history to repeat itself. We can do the right thing by voting based on competence and not based on where one comes from or the religion he practices. It won’t take rocket science for us to come together, after all, we saw first-hand the power of unity when we occupied the streets of the country a year ago, and the master key for that success was realising that we were fighting a common enemy, we also preached tolerance which is another VERY important factor in promoting unity, which saw christians in Kano standing guard while muslims prayed, let us not also forget how muslims in Kaduna broke their fast during Ramadan with their Christian brothers, why can’t these go on? These are the kind of things that will shame these looters and put an end to this divisive politics of disunity so we can live in PEACE, and not in PIECES!!!
Salihu Tanko Yakasai is a proud husband and father of two. He is a broadcaster with Freedom Radio, Kano. Yakasai believes in the unity and development of Nigeria, which paved his way into community activities through NGOs in transforming our society for the better. He is a registered member of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.