It troubles me in this age and time to be Nigerian, a time where clearly the problem is not the tomato seller, the trouble does not lie with the carpenter, mason or the Miango woman that hawks yams to fend for her home.
The trouble, the problem, the issues that beset us as a people and nation are supposedly caused by the quasi-literate, quasi-educated, quasi-bourgeois intellectual who have been to prestigious and the not too prestigious institutions. The ones with the Pull Him/Her Down tags, the professors with nothing to profess, the mnis and failed school certs, fsc. Indeed they or rather we are the menace to Nigerian society.
My next few paragraphs are not exactly going to be palatable or complimentary, they are not meant to raise dust, neither are they hate or dangerous comments. It is simply meant to stir in us a semblance of critical thinking.
For us to look beyond the ‘you and I’, ‘they and them’, ‘us and we’ nomenclature, lexicons of defense when the discourse is faith and religion; something needs to change in us. In sane climes nations and their people are navigating developmentization. Like the Chinese are coming or have indeed come, we are concerned that the Fulanis have already come, and there is an ongoing Islamization agenda.
The Islamization conspiracists have it all figured and carved out. The Christians are the victims, even when the Evangelicals and Baptists are at each other’s throats over the Christian Association of Nigerian Presidency Elections. The proponents of our moral and religious compass expend energy dangerously on fixations of religion and faith while our roads, hospitals, schools are all in a state of neither here nor there.
This is me being naive–Have you heard that one time Central Bank Chief now Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi gave XXX billion to Kano, he equally employed several non-qualified Hausas into the apex bank. So what then did Charles my namesake Soludo do, or what is Emefiele currently doing for his very qualified Igbo brothers.
While the world is moving forward and there is the blues about Islam, migration, and conquests. For us as Nigerians, all I see is energy expended by clerics on both sides building fences and initiating hate/dangerous speeches on intent while sermonizing peace.
So when Muslims are done Islamizing, and all the drama regarding the floating of the Sukkuk Bond, and Islamic financing; like the Islamic Banking before this, what next would we fight about. Only recently a group claiming to know the Prophet Muhammad PBUH insisted that the government needed to give Nigerian Muslims a public holiday to mark the New Year according to Islamic dates, this is how jobless we have become, because I would simply put forward a case for the sango, ifa, amadioha, bori faithfuls to all have their new year day and festivals celebrated and our calendar would be filled with holidays.
Between the Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, many times my question is; with all these religiosity, what are they bringing to the table in terms of patriotism and nation building and this is not disparaging any faith but how much good does all the inter-hate bring?
In the words of Bola Tinubu, Nigeria as a nation has not sufficiently defined its governance.
“We are like the bewildered couple who has got their marriage licence after a lavish wedding; yet neither of them really understands the meaning of marriage or their roles as husband and wife in it.
“Legally, they are married but functionally, their union is a crippled one. This couple will be at loggerheads until somehow they forge an agreement on what type of home they want and what are their respective duties in making that home come into existence.
“It is a rather curious lapse that a nation with such diversity as ours has not taken the time to give our legal marriage its proper functional underpinning. In other words, we all lined up to call ourselves Nigerians without gathering to discuss what it meant.
“We may be defined by political borders and boundaries but we have not glued ourselves to collective purpose and vision. Too many of us are born in Nigeria but not of it. Thus, our society is not a collective enterprise as important to each of us as our own personal endeavour. It is a platform, an arena, to claim whatever one can by whatever means available.
As a people we need to start to understand where we are coming from in order to align with ourselves, to understand the difference between tolerating each other and really respecting each other. We need to turn all the self-interest to mutual interest.
Have we thought of the need to slightly readjust the goal of what Nigeria should be for us as a people, not just as Christians, Muslims, and off course pagans as the colonials have termed a few of us. Can we refocus the energy we dissipate on these Islamic Finance option or CRS case or how the Muslims envy Christians for having more universities everywhere than they could ever have.
What is the great truth of Nigeria? It is that nothing gets done easily anything without looking at interests, we start occasions with a Christian prayer and end it with a Muslim benediction and then if we are not stealing after the meeting, we are visiting the Babalawo in Ijebu Ode.
Everything in Nigeria is messy and it was probably made that way on purpose; that we forget that no one law, no one man or one government can decide the fate of everything and everyone. In very simple terms we got a heck of a lot of different people with a heck of a lot of different agendas, but I believe that a lot of people, most people are basically at their core good people, so if at first we do not understand their agenda, we have to try at our best to understand who they are, and what they need, we have to let go of judgment.
It is not only what we think of ourselves, because many times we never would know what it is to walk in each other’s shows, we need each other’s need to align and where our needs align together is where we get to build a great nation. We are Nigeria, a bunch of different states, states of land, states of mind, states of different people, and it’s up to us, all of us, to keep all these different states united.
Until we stop all that a Muslim must be president, and his vice a Christian, and a Christian can never rule here and there and that post is reserved for only Catholics, and he was the first Protestant to be the chairman and all our zoning by faith and creed, we will continue to drift away from the reality that nation states have never been built on federal character but personal morality of what is right and what is wrong for the generality of the ordinary people, until we decide which agenda to pursue we all may not be different from the Shekau with 10 lives and his agendas, how long it takes us to collectively build a near Nigerian agenda—Only time will tell.
Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University
Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.