By Emeka D. Azubuike
Many at times when I sit and think about my Nation-our geographical location, size and population, diversity in culture and ethnicity and a whole lot, I wonder if these are blessings or curses for us. This year we as a Nation are still in the euphoria of the celebration of being united for a 100 years as a country or one Nigeria, the question people have been asking and pondering upon is if the amalgamation has actually been of great benefits or more losses as we try to evolve to a great, free, equitable and an egalitarian society.
The whole idea of Nationhood has different meanings to different people, but among the underlying characteristics of a Nation are these; shared vision that is bought into by every citizen, government or leaders that are mostly in agreement with its citizens and a free and egalitarian society where all are made to benefit. In one of his interviews, Emeka Ojukwu rightly and confidently stated that Nigeria as a country has never been a Nation where everyone is made to feel important. Obafemi Awolowo believed Nigeria was just a geographical location of diverse group of people. Nnamdi Azikiwe on his own part believed at independence that Nigeria became a Nation because after many years of British rule, the amalgamation in 1914, there was a general belief that the diverse groups that make up the Nigerian entity became a Nation at independence. Many more people have had a lot to say about the question of our Nationhood.
In this piece, I would like to draw your attention to a phenomenon because is already one, that every person, group has demonstrated and still do that really questions our true Nationhood. Coming from history lane, during the constitutional conferences leading to independence, Nigeria was offered independence before 1960, but due to the position of the North we didn’t have it then. Then the times between 1965 to1966 that culminated into our first coup d’etat, some group of army officers mostly of Ibo extraction decided to make history by making their voice heard in deciding the course of our history. Also barely 6 months later another group of Northern officers carried out a reprisal coup that yet again brought people who felt they could chart another history for Nigeria. The months that followed was characterised by the pogrom of Ibos all over the North. Even though that was condemned by many, it yet brought an opportunity for another group (Eastern region) to move for a secession and divide the supposed Nigerian nation. After a bloody 30 month war, we still remain the country Nigeria but not sure if as a Nation.
Nigeria I can say confidently is not a Nation as of today when we are celebrating our centenary rather she is just made up of groups, tribes or even nations seeking for the good of the groups where they belong. The percentage of people who would truly answer first as Nigerians today is low rather what we have in abundance are persons of selfish gain who don’t care about the well being of another citizen who might be from another group. If it is not the Ijaws and Niger Deltans today who lay claim to the oil wealth, it would be the North who believe so much in their size and population or the Ohaneze Ndigbo, or Afenifere and so many other groups that just want a share of the national cake. Nationhood would continue to elude us until we come to the realization that everyone is a major stakeholder in the story called Nigeria and how this story turns out depends on us all.
Every group with their respective visions, goals and grievances must come together to develop an ideal Nigerian Dream. Like I will always say since we can’t divide into 250 Nations, we must then work to build one, true, prosperous and united Nigeria. Our diversity shouldn’t turn out a curse but rather a blessing. It should propel us all to rub minds and reach a good and reasonable conclusion not to be in disagreement.
We cannot all have stakes for all the ethnic groups separately but we can surely have a stake called the Nigerian stake for everyone’s benefit.
Please you can now subscribe to my online magazine platform at http://www.eurekamagazine.com.ng by mail.
Thanks and God bless.