I was on my way to church with my family on a lovely Sunday morning. We had just reached Maryland bustop and were waiting for the traffic light to give us the green light to move on. I stared out the window watching pedestrians on the street, secretly envying the ones who swiftly and fearlessly crossed the busy road for I have always had issues with crossing busy roads when suddenly my eyes stumbled upon this statue. Ironically I had to pass this road almost every day during my secondary school days so I saw this statue most of the time but never really thought much about it until now. The statue showed three men from the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria (Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba) lifting the Nation up. The idea is to show the unity of the Nigerian people but sadly it is not what we see today.
To begin with, Nigerian politics has become tribal. Majority of Nigerians vote for people based on sentimental reasons like the fact that he/she is from their ‘side” or geopolitical zones not considering that this is a major decision that will affect the lives of everyone including themselves and should be treated with the top most importance and impartiality. People decide to vote based on ethnic or religious differences and then have the effrontery to complain about how governmental issues are not being properly handled by the representatives they themselves voted into power. This situation is also applicable in both public and private sectors. Tribalism is so rampant that it has practically been accepted as a norm by most people. People with the right ideas, purpose, missions and qualifications are not given the opportunity to showcase themselves and contribute to the development of the society.
Also, the unfortunate case of boko haram cannot be ignored. In an interview with financial times of London, Mallam Sanusi Lamido, the CBN governor unabashedly insinuated that the activities of Boko Haram is as a result of how revenue is allocated to the north, indirectly linking the jihad to the Niger Delta’s oil money. I don’t know which is more sorrowful, the fact that Boko Haram is being justified for the brutal killing of innocent citizens or the fact that Our president is sadly more interested in renaming different Universities than in dealing with this issue on ground. It is thought provoking to imagine how many people die daily from the actions of these men who hide behind religious sentiments to carry out their outrageous activities while nothing is being done to deal with them appropriately.
It is important to note however that Nigeria has been geographically united since its amalgamation in 1914 and a sect that is not even 10 years old will not and cannot tear our nation apart no matter how hard they try. We are a strong nation however in order to grow in strength; Unity should not just end geographically. People should stop waiting for a day some politician will appear to turn everything around, make everybody happy. That will be very unrealistic and almost impossible. President Obama of the United States with his entire” yes we can” chant and amazing propaganda couldn’t change the America. According to statistics, the unemployment rate is still high in America. But if we look at it from another angle, who ever thought that America would ever have a black president? I know I did not but today a black family lives in The White House. That is the power we have when we work together to achieve a certain goal. Like pop star, Michael Jackson sang in one of his popular song and one of my favorites Man in the Mirror, “If you want to make the world a better place, just look at yourself and make that change.”
In my own words, if you want to see change, be changed. Nigerians should learn to elect people who have unselfish visions and dreams for our country no matter the tribe or religion. Nigeria is a beautiful country with beautiful people and lots of resources but tribalism and religious differences are part of the factors that needs to be flushed out of our system for rapid growth and development to take place. If everyone can put aside their religious and ethnic differences and join hands together to lift Nigeria to greater heights, then maybe, just maybe we can look at that erected statue and feel hope rather than mocked by its glaring concept. God bless Nigeria!
Obot Winifred. J.
DEPT OF MASS COMMUNICATION
UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS