(First published on The Sun Newspaper )
As a child that was born in the North Central part of Nigeria, Lafia in Nassarawa State to be precise, I grew up with Muslim kids in a Muslim dominated neighbourhood. We played, we fought, we laughed, we visited each other, in fact, we did all sorts of things together. I grew up believing we are all one. After-all, that was how my parents had always portrayed it.
During Islamic festivals, our Muslim neighbours and brothers will bring various kinds of meal to our house and during Xmas or other Christian celebrations we don’t hesitate to reciprocate. Then as kids, we used to wait curiously for another Islamic celebration so we can eat a lot of meat. That was how fun it was at that time.
Nowadays, the story is gradually changing. Some of our politicians have succeeded in turning us against one another. We are now living like cats and dogs as a result of the disingenuous actions of some politicians who cynically exploit our ethno-religious polarity. They manipulate us by making us believe we are different in all respects. They tell us cynically untrue stories about our history. They push us far apart so they can achieve their selfish desires.
The pertinent truth remains that there is great strength in our plurality. As a multicultural society, we can capitalize on our diverse orientation and gifts to salvage our dear nation. Multiculturalism is a source of diverse knowledge and experience. It increases creativity, innovation and prosperity. Different race or ethnic groups are known for different things. For instance, the Igbos are known for their ingenuity in doing business, the Yorubas are known for their artistic prowess, and the Hausa-Fulanis are known for agriculture. If we blend our diverse experience and knowledge constructively, we’re definitely going to become the giant of the world.
Unfortunately, some of our politicians have continued to sow divisive seeds in our minds. They keep telling us the reason for our leadership failure lies in our diversity. They tell us we can’t succeed together. They make us believe we are responsible for each others problems. Consequently, they end up sowing distrust and hatred in our minds. Now we’re in the middle of nowhere struggling like a blind man without a staff. Today, nothing seems to be working because some groups are directly or indirectly marginalized, and are not positioned or allowed to make relevant contributions for the progress of the country.
The past four years of President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration did not yield so much results because of it’s clannishness. A lot of group were left behind. The lopsidedness of his key appointments and his negative body language towards the South helped to make matters worse. A lot of human rights group have accused the military under his watch of applying maximum force on Shiite members in Kaduna which resulted in the killing of hundreds. Another horrific scenario was the launching of the Operation Python Dance in the South East which also resulted in several killings and abuse of human rights. Yet, the rampaging Fulani Militias were perceived by many to be treated with kids glove.
Now that the Next Level Agenda is about to be unfolded, I wish the president will pay more attention on unifying the country rather than dividing us further. I wish Mr. President and his allies will strive relentlessly to eliminate every atom of hate, division and revenge in running the affairs of our dear country Nigeria. It’s high time the president took decisive steps towards ending the division in this country. This can be achieved by ensuring that his ideas, strategies, policies and political appointments reflect the Federal Character regardless of the pressure.
Nigerians from different parts of the country are eager to contribute their diverse experience and knowledge towards growing Nigeria. So the president must endeavour to look beyond his party in appointing competent hands who can help to actualize his Next Level Agenda. He must also look beyond ethnicity. There are a lot of competent Nigerians all over the world who are willing to help grow our economy. This is the best time to bring them in.
I believe the president have good intentions for this country, but having good intentions is not enough. The president needs a quality team – a team that comprise of creative technocrats and experts from various parts of the country who can brainstorm and proffer short-term, medium-term and long-term solutions to our problems. Our problems need creative solutions and we’re blessed with sound brains who can contribute to making this administration a productive and fulfilling one.
However, it’s important to re-emphasize this point: no race or ethnic group in Nigeria is more equal than the other. No ethnic group is more diligent or patriotic than the rest. We all are equal in the eyes of God and we all can equally contribute to the success of our dear nation. Therefore, everyone should be treated equally regardless of their ethnicity, religion or gender.
Remember, posterity will remember your administration for good if you (PMB) succeed in making Nigeria a better place. When the history of this country will be read by the future generation, you’ll be celebrated as a hero of all time.
God bless you Mr. President!
God bless Nigeria!
Nweke Samuel Chinonso
(Author & Social Affairs Analyst)
Facebook: Nweke Samuel Chinonso