Mike finally gets admission into a university, he receives the news with mixed feelings as it is not a university near his home town. All he knows of this land is what he has been told by friends and relatives. He struggles with the choice of living among this people he is told are arrogant, commandeering, greedy, disloyal and naturally prone to wickedness. Now, he believes he has only one option and that is, another year at home in which he would try again for admission into the university in his home state or at least nearby. At a second thought, he realises age is not on his side, therefore he reluctantly accepts this admission. Getting to school, he realises a truth which had existed all along; while there where treacherous, greedy, wicked and proud people there, he also found loving, polite, kind and trustworthy people. Thinking to himself, he said, this isn’t so bad, in fact this is just like home.

Of about 1500 languages spoken in Africa, as many as 600 are spoken in Nigeria alone. No doubt, she is one large cultural mosaic. Not many countries enjoy the variety that Nigeria has. This diversity however has been for Nigeria the main reason for dispute and divergence, rather than a reason for strength. Though we are one country, we do not see ourselves as one nation, rather we see ourselves as many nations, bound together by territorial boundaries at least that is what the constitution says indirectly. We relate with people of other ethnic or cultural groups with a damaging difference like suspicion, in some inferior cases we relate to them with preconceived negative ideologies and in the worst cases, we term them “outsiders” despite living in the same country and sometimes even having distinctive tribal marks and native accent to clear all doubts. We make them pay higher tuitions, in universities and give them second places in choices for positions and contract awards, even though they’ve lived their whole lives in those states, contributed to the states developments with their ideas and their taxes.

Where did this come from? Was this the way of the first Nigerians? Did our fathers leave a legacy of inter-tribal hate? Certainly not. Senator Ben Bruce, in his campaign against tribalism, was apt to mention that the first mayor of Enugu was a Fulani man named Malam Umaru Altine in 1956, also an Igbo man, Felix Okonkwo was appointed member of the northern House of Chiefs. These certainly did not raise any eyebrows as the concepts of tribalism was alien to our fathers. We seem to have forgotten that the fight for our independence was made successful by the combined efforts of Nigerians from all over the country. We are quick to conclude that the evil a man exhibits, is, because of his ethnic background.  A typical example of the dangers of a single story spoken off by the bestselling author Chimamanda Nngozi Adichie.

Good and evil cannot be tied to any particular tribe. In the case of evil it is the individual who acts irresponsibly, who is irresponsible and not entirely his background, it all comes down to choices but it never comes down to a TRIBE. We cannot afford to keep generalizing our experiences with any member(s) of an ethnic group as the attitude of that ethnic group. We must see individuals as individuals we must actually #killtribalism criminalise this act, before it kills us.

While the federal character principle was an excellent idea aimed at harnessing the diverse intellectual capacity of Nigerians from all parts of the country, it should not be set above competence and merit in the selection of public office holders and private contracts dealers. We could be doing more harm than good to ourselves if the best man is not given the job. We must not place too much emphasis on where we are from, when a player in the Super Eagles scores a goal, nobody cares if he is a northerner or southerner; celebration is all that proceeds from among us. We are definitely stronger and better together.

Imagine a Nigeria, where the agricultural prowess of the northerners is synergised with the intellectual excellence of the westerners and the commercial brilliance of the easterners, imagine if the best man were given the job, irrespective of his geo-political zone, imagine if Nigerians where judged by the content of their individual characters rather than a preconceived belief. We need to actually see ourselves as one, put an end to the bitterness that has senselessly divided us and regain our identity as a nation-state and then we can build our ideal home.

I have a Dream (In the voice of Martin Luther king Jr); and you have read it.

By the way, I’m just a bystander (in my voice).

Bystander: Moses


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