Oya do we divide Nigeria?

May 9, 2016 OPINION/NEWS


Prince Charles Dickson

We grab a dog with the hands and it escapes; thereafter we beckon it with two fingers. (If both hands cannot detain a dog, two fingers from a distance will not bring it to where it escaped from).

As a public commentator, I often say it’s not everything you must have an opinion on, or talk about. You cannot be an expert on all things but there are times when common sense in the face of present realities should guide us…

Sadly, so, in continuation of my admonition last week I am still on this matter of the Fulani herdsmen stereotype. We are a nation that, once a list, a comment, an opinion is muted, we look at the name, religion and ethnic cleavage, it cannot be right if it is not from our own side of the pole. All the war of words have threaded tribal lines, most Igbos support the hauling insults on Yorubas, very few Yoruba will defend the Igbos, the Yorubas do not like the Gambaris, and the mutual suspicion is one oozing like a beer factory next door.

Deeply rooted in the current debates remain a catastrophic trend of economic, political and social situation in Nigeria, occasioned by undemocratic and irresponsive governance, monumental corruption, high level insecurity, and failure in all facets of national life.

Our emotions as a people are largely impressionistic, bringing to the fore, the amorphous form of the Nigerian statehood. A nation of many impressions, we all have impressions of each other, and on each other. We care less about whether these impressions are right or wrong. Armed robbers are caught; we check the names whether they are Hausas, Ibos, Yorubas or Indians.

We have refused to collectively look at the Nigerian project in a way that it profits the participants, the Nigerian civil war is an impression to some and reality to others, because we refuse to teach it as a history, we do not even agree how it happened. The Jos crisis has remained an impression, just like Chibok is, or Boko Haram an impression, so Enugu is an impression.

We are fighting each other over mistakes of the past, and doing nothing to correct them, while sadly even committing more grievous ones. The Yorubas continue to worship Awo, with no effort made to reproduce a near Awo in leadership. The Ibos are all shouting foul and marginalization but really where are the new age Zik or even Ojukwu, in a very disorganized unit, whose first enemy is herself.

My brothers in the North are stuck in all kinds of unpalatable records of ills, arewa citizens are led to the slaughter slab and our economy remains dead on arrival. With our 19 state governors, leaders of politics, tradition and thought as our main enemies who have sat down, done nothing other than murmur about power which we really do nothing with it.

These days, there are very few persons to look up to, no roles, no models. We are not ready to address our issues, we are only beckoning with two fingers the dog we could not catch with the whole hand; we have very little history of who we are as a country, at every turn in national discourse like the axiom, aki í fi ìyá ení dákú seré, we joke that our mother has collapsed, always trifling with serious matters, playing with a loaded and primed gun. Forgetting that one does not hide something in one’s hand and yet swear [that one knows nothing about it].

I dare ask, do we really appreciate Nigeria, if we do not, we do not deserve it, we want the Nigeria of our dreams, with this and that, with leadership made in heaven but we have refused to go back and ask patiently what is Nigeria, who is Nigeria, what makes Nigeria? Today it is all talk about change and change, yet we forget that these are not new; no one catches a fish in anger. That Nigeria has gone wrong, should we also go wrong with Nigeria, and can we not help Nigeria take a new meaning.

The ordinary Nigerian cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once. We cannot start to give a new meaning to this structure called Nigeria, we have to change it from a Niger area of corruption, an area of lawlessness, an area of bad leadership to an area of hope, an area of godly expectation, an area where all and sundry are treated fair and square.

Nigerians talk about God, love God, serve God and look up to God even to the envy of the Israelites/Italians/Arabs et al. Therefore, when we are confronted with any situation we go on our knees in prayer and supplication to God even when the problem is self-inflicted.

While this enterprise called Nigeria remains very viable, it really has not arrived anywhere and there is no need deceiving us. It is imperative for us to sit down together and do a soul-searching exercise of the system, the structure and the people.

Nigerians need to talk, but we are in quagmire regarding what to say, who to talk to, how to talk. Understanding Nigeria and its needs only gets compounded; in a breath it is corruption, in another leadership, and in a sweep it is follower ship; we have continued to collect counterfeit currency for our daughters’ bride price so that she remains betrothed.

I end with this encounter, a politician was charged with profanity for calling an opponent a bastard: the politician retorted, “When I call him a s.o.b I am not using profanity. I am only referring to the circumstances of his birth.” What is the circumstance of the birth of Nigeria, can anything be done to bring destiny and fate to conjure up some good for us all, or are the Fulanis Ibos, Ijaws, Nupes, Kalabaris, Yorubas the problem or do we divide Nigeria?—Only time will tell.










Prince Charles Dickson

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.


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