If we can all do a quick poll of one of the reasons why Nigerians appear to be disunited, our individual, religious, and ethnic differences will appear as some among many other reasons why it appears as though there is a discord between Nigerians. Going down memory lane, history shows pieces of evidence of how Nigeria’s nation-building has been hampered because of these differences.
The civil war of 1967-1970 is one moment in history that our differences lead to the death of millions of Nigerians. The Igbo people fought to be separated from the country and following the failure of that event, Igbo people have continued to make claims of marginalisation, and the fact that they have not had a person from the tribe be the president gives some credit to their claims.
In the fourth republic, however, elections started being informed by religion and tribe. Olu Falae and Olusegun Obasanjo were the only two presidential candidates and it was a strategy to soothe the aggrieved Yorùbá tribe after the events of the 1993 election annulment and MKO Abiola‘s subsequent death.
For subsequent elections, a Christian appears to always be crossed with a Muslim and vice versa. Obasanjo was a Christian and his running mate, Abubakar Atiku a Muslim. The same rule informed 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019 elections.
Even if the so-called formula relegates competence for tribal rotation and efficiency for religious affinity, no harm is done. This has informed decisions, from the national to the individual. The deciding factor of solidarity, heretofore, had been either ethnic affiliation or religion.
But the times are changing and narratives are being torn up. When Vice president Yemi Osinbajo was quoted by ThisDay complaining in 2019 that “we are at a historic juncture in the existence of our nation. Here and there are religious and tribal tensions,” he probably didn’t see the –#EndSARS uprising coming. Truth is, very few, if any, did.
Since the protests began, religious and tribal divides have been put in abeyance for this cause. The climax probably came when Muslims were praying and Christians out of respect observed them before resuming demonstrations together. Christians also had prayer walks graced by Muslims.
Muslim protesters are praying, Christian protesters are guiding them to protect them. This is the NIGERIA OF MY DREAM.#EndSARS
— Omidanabeni (@omidanabeni) October 16, 2020
I just shed tear at the Abuja #EndSARS protest. Our Muslim brothers who were praying had others standing firmly behind them in solidarity and raising the National flag.
This is my Nigeria ? pic.twitter.com/4WzewCwFir
— Henry Shield (@henryshield) October 16, 2020
Donations have continued to roll in from different sections in the country towards achieving the same goal. When some persons living with disabilities were contributed to get prosthetic limbs, it was not because of their tribe or faith, it was because they were Nigerians, humans.
It was not uncommon for people to pick up arms to fight in the name of religion or tribal, with Boko Haram, IPOB and OPC all groups which have emphasised the divide. However, the new order of youths, who have shed their last vestiges of docility, are reviving the moribund one Nigeria dream in which humanity suppresses tribe and religion.
This generation may just be a Messianic one.
Kola Muhammed has imprint across local and international media. He is passionate about trends in the domains of culture, communication and technology.