New Nigeria Needs New Nigerians

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In a “side bar” article I wrote years ago, I noted that the then central bank governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, was still signing the naira as “Charles Soludo” and joked that I would not spend the Nigerian currency again until he did the needful. I got an e-mail from a young reader who said although he always enjoyed reading my articles, he just could not understand my “constant criticism” of Soludo. He accused me of being an “Igbo hater”. I chuckled. Why did he not accuse me of “hating” Soludo because he is a professor and I am not, or because he is richer than I am, or because he is more handsome? Why must my “hatred” for Soludo be based on ethnicity?

I did not bother to reply the mail. (Unknown to the reader, I enjoyed, and still enjoy, a fantastic relationship with Soludo.) But I took away one disturbing message from the mail: creating a “Nigeria first” identity is going to be the toughest task ever. The divisive mindsets we inherited from our “founding fathers” pervade not just the older generations but even the new ones. The older generations viewed Nigeria from a narrow ethno-religious prism. Over the decades, closer interaction, greater integration and much education have neither renewed nor reset our mindsets. We still continue to interact with Nigeria the way our “ancestors” did.

In my mind, I often see two Nigerias — the Old and the New. In the Old Nigeria, ethnic and religious identities take precedence over national identity. That is, you are first and foremost a Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Muslim, Christian, southerner, northerner, etc, before you are a Nigerian. Your first line of thinking is always along this myopia. For instance, if the federal government makes appointments, the first thing you do is count how many Muslims and Christians or southerners and northerners are on the list before asking whether the appointees are good enough to deliver development to Nigeria. You can’t be bothered about the competence as long as they are from your village.

In the New Nigeria, the one I would love to see, it is “Nigeria first” before your ethnic and religious leanings. You are Yoruba or Christian quite all right, but that is not what determines how you treat issues of common significance. What that means, in practice, is that if a ministerial list comes out, your first instinct is not the religion of the appointees but their CVs. It means if Yoruba and Hausa are fighting, your first instinct is not to side with the person from your part of the country but to seek to understand the contending issues before taking a position. You remain Yoruba or Hausa, of course; nothing can take that away from you. But that is not what controls your brain.

Building a New Nigeria is a tall order, let me say that. We start acquiring narrow mindsets from a tender age. We are socialised to view people from other ethnic groups, religions and cultures in a particular way, mostly unflattering. Every ethnic group harbours prejudices and biases against others. The good news, as if there is any good in the news, is that this is not a Nigerian problem. It is universal. Human beings are brought up under the influence of mindsets that eventually colour how they see their world and the world around them. This regulates how they think and how they understand and analyse issues. Their worldviews are shaped by inherited prejudices and biases.

In Nigeria, there are established terms with which we describe people from other ethnic groups and religions: illiterates, beggars, cows, cowards, drunks, traitors, fraudsters, money worshippers, cannibals, terrorists, infidels, and all that. You hear racist tags such as “yamiri”, “malo”, “ofe mmanu”, “kafir”, and all that. From infanthood, children are told stories about other ethnicities in a way to prejudice their minds, to sow seeds of hate, mistrust and discord in their souls in preparation for their future. Don’t make friends with those people — they are traitors! Fraudsters! Infidels! At age 10, a child is already using derogatory terms to describe people of other faiths and ethnicities.

As tensions begin to well up in the land again with secession threats and “quit notices” flying up and down, the biggest challenge is how to continue to preach “one Nigeria”, “Nigeria first” or “New Nigeria”. We are losing the argument by the day. The most dominant voices in the public space today belong to hate merchants. They are prisoners to the prejudices and biases with which they were nurtured. Every problem in Nigeria, for all they care, should be looked at with the tinted lenses of ethnicity, region and religion. All analyses, opinions and positions start and end with ethnicity and religion. It is the inherited Old Nigeria at work, no thanks to the “founding fathers”.

I have gone round Nigeria a bit. Everywhere I go, I see dilapidated schools, helpless children, weather-beaten hawkers, sick hospitals, potholed roads, and wailing generators. I mean every single state of the federation. I see harassed and pauperised Nigerians from every tribe and every tongue, from every religion and every persuasion. And I see stinking rich government officials in their convoys of gold-plated SUVs, waving their diamond-crusted wristwatches in the air, frolicking with their bevy of indecent beauties. Every state, every region, every religion. Yet we’ve managed to conclude that our problem is the person from other ethnic group. Who bewitched us?

We desperately need a New Nigeria, but we cannot build a New Nigeria without New Nigerians. We need new thinking and new thinkers. Old Nigeria was built on ethno-religious chauvinism. The evangelists of Old Nigeria made sure that they reproduced themselves, such that people who were born in 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, who are supposed to be New Nigerians, are also hostages to ethnic hate and bigotry. So their age is not the issue; it is the age of their mindsets. A New Nigeria can only be built by those who can see beyond their nose, beyond their ethnic cocoons, beyond the hate that has been sown and groomed in their minds. Old Nigerians cannot build a New Nigeria.

There are people who see themselves as custodians of sectional interests, who continue to fuel division and discord in Nigeria. They are enemies of nation-building. They cannot see what binds us together. They are too blind to see it. They cannot see the common afflictions holding back Nigerians of all faiths and all ethnic affiliations. They are too blind to see. They cannot see the diseases that kill lowly Nigerians in the north and the south. They are too blind to see. They cannot see the politicians and public servants pillaging the commonwealth. All they can see is how another part of the country is their problem. This Old Nigeria mindset is, sadly, the king in the ring.

I will give a recurring example. The beef some people had with President Goodluck Jonathan had nothing to do with his performance in office: it was all down to ethnic and religious biases. Jonathan’s performance, or lack of it, only helped their case. It is exactly the same thing going on today: some people cannot just stand the sight of President Muhammadu Buhari because of his ethnic identity and religion — and they cannot wait for him to fail. That is the Old Nigeria mentality. The New Nigeria mindset is more focused on how the president can succeed, and criticisms are directed at the issues rather than at his person. After all, if he succeeds, Nigeria succeeds.

Lest I forget, ethnic diversity is not a problem in itself. Diversity is a fact of life. Using stereotypes to describe other people may not be a problem in itself. Stereotyping is a universal phenomenon. However, the fierce competition for the political-cum-economic space, in the face of scarcity, is what usually leads to the propagation of hate and violence. Limited opportunities often get twinned with identities and ethnic entrepreneurs jump on the opportunity to magnify and manipulate prejudice. Until we build a New Nigeria that works for all, that keeps poverty on the fringes, that gives every part a sense of belonging, the hate merchants will continue to call the tune.

For the time being, this is a clarion call to New Nigerians to rise up and drown out the voices of Old Nigerians. The country is overdue to be hijacked and controlled by those who think they are first Nigerians before they are Ijaw, Igala, Urhobo, Ika, Kuteb, Kaje, whatever. We must commit to bringing up our own children in a new way, helping them acquire broader worldviews, with emphasis on celebrating the good in others, building new mindsets on putting the overall interest of Nigeria above narrow ethno-religious narratives. Enough of the parochialism that is holding Nigeria hostage. This cycle must be broken. We cannot make real progress this way. Never.

AND FOUR OTHER THINGS

HATE SPEECH
There is a video going round in which an Igbo cleric utters unprintable words about Hausa people and President Muhammadu Buhari. I recently watched one in which the IPOB leader says horrible things about the Yoruba. Is this not harmful to Igbo people living in other parts of Nigeria? If other people start making hate videos against the Igbo and begin to circulate them, there can only be one outcome. Can’t people make their points decently without insulting and provoking others? I am totally against hate speech, even if it is made by my mother or my pastor. Maybe IPOB sympathisers now need to think twice about the possible consequences. Caution.

KIDNAP ASSETS
It is coming to light the key role the social media plays in turning people to valuable kidnap assets, thanks to the arrested Chukwudi Dumeme Onuamadike aka Evans, reputedly Nigeria’s most notorious kidnapper. The way people live their lives on social media these days makes no sense to me. I have this contact on my WhatsApp who is always announcing his leisure trips to Dubai, Rome and Los Angeles, sometimes with status videos. He even uploads the videos of himself and his wife at the first-class check-in counter and lounge of Emirates Airlines. Can someone please tell me what’s going on in this world? Am I just too old-fashioned to understand? Bewildering.

TOWER FIRE
The midnight fire tragedy that engulfed Grenfell Tower, London, killing yet unspecified number of residents, is one too many. I hate to imagine the agonising cries of people, young and old, woken up from their deep sleep by the inferno that cremated them alive. While investigation begins, it has been established that the flammable cladding on the outside was responsible for the rapid spread of the fatal fire from the fourth floor to the top of the 24-story building. Flammable cladding is commonly used on office buildings in Nigeria because of its beautifying effect. The Nigerian fire services may want to take a look at its health and safety implications. Proactive.

BLESSING IN DISGUISE
Our own Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor was the cynosure of all eyes at the Diamond League event in Oslo, Norway, on Thursday. No, she did not win her long jump event. She actually placed seventh. She had a bad hair day: her wig jumped out of her head, turning her into an instant internet sensation. Even the global mainstream media could not resist the fun of the wardrobe malfunction. But don’t I just love her? There was no trace of embarrassment on her face. She dusted herself up, picked the wayward wig and restored the disguise to her head. Pictures of the incident are surely going to endure and become iconic, long after she’s left the stage. Drama.

  • Emeka Nkemakolam

    I always enjoy your write up.

    In my view, I think we have a deep structural challenge with our country. True that Nigeria is made up of many ethnic groupings, but until we remove State of Origin and Quota System, we will always struggle with national unity.

    Inequality is enshrined in the minds of young Nigerians when you say to them even though your parent lived and gave birth to you in Lagos, you cannot be seen as a Nigerian and you cannot aspire to the same office as a Lagosian because your state of origin says you are from Kaduna State.

    Again, why would a Nigerian Child who scored 300 in Jamb not be offered admission to study in a certain University while another who scored 200 is offered admission for the same course in the same university. In what way is the educationally disadvantaged categorisation of a certain locality the problem of the young impressionable Nigerian Child.? You have just sown a seed of ethnic discord and would then turn around to wonder why when the child becomes a man.

    I believe in the Nigerian Project, but until merit and equity is restored in our constitution, these agitations would never go away.

    Thank you again Kola for your piece

  • sunny okocha

    The same commentators everyday no difference in a nation of over 250 million spewing division hopelessness but none has showed suicidality despite their anger I do wonder their mind set.
    If you v given up on project Nigeria because you have not invested a kobo praying for the project to go up in flame sorry you ll be hoping forever many have done and died painfully so shall many idiots who have nothing important but spewing fear borne out of an article urging understanding by Simon what will people gain by war insults hatred death I pray the dream of secessionist and war mongers come true and they shall all move to their dream America in Nigeria where probity equal opportunity social justice and democratic principle prevail no be Nigeria inside Africa make una kontinuuuuuu

  • Osahon Lawrence

    I love the indepth analysis provided by this article in exploring the need for a New Nigeria.

    I believe the foundation for this to take root has to be from an early stage at primary school level and beyond as part of education curriculum.

    I am an advocate of free speech but believe the recent inflammatory hate speech by rep on the Hausa and ibos side can act as a trigger for potential conflict.

    I am surprised the comments have not been condemned by the government or action taken against those perpetrating hate speech.

  • soulchild

    Simon it is said that the fish gets rotting from the head. When you have a President who openly states his intentions to reward 97% and punish 5%, then it’s not a suprise that we are where we are.

    This government has been the most divisive i have experienced since birth. People cannot not give what they don’t have. In other words our President is not the president of Nigeria, but is the president of “northern Nigeria “

  • Samson Judah

    Let not the ”Kaduna-declaration” fret anyone let alone our beloved Igbos or Yorubas etc. The igbos are loved where ever they went to and we are appreciative of what ever affliction that pulled them from their comfort, the agressive push their competitiveness made Nigerians ahead of their African pack. We have lots of igbos, yorubas, urhobos, idomas, igala comfortably settled in parts of Southern Kaduna and thriving in a communities that feel the natural connection and pursuit of same or similar price to life…prosperity, peace health and happiness. And I will encourage more whom feel threatened from the core North to come down to SK, for we believe in the law and appreciate rich diversity.

  • Paul

    Hello Simon, Igbos do not really hate other Nigerians the way others hate Igbos. Your are so concerned now of the hatred faceless online Igbos youths are showing to tribes, (even though faceless youths from other tribes are doing the same) I apologize for the act of those Igbos. I want you to remember what the Oba of Lagos ( not a faceless online youth) said of the Igbos during the election. For the past 50 years, Igbos have been insulted not just by words but by deeds. Igbos are routinely killed in the North without anybody held to account. Igbos travelling from Lagos to the SE pass through hundreds of Military/Police checkpoints subjected to dehumanizing treatments. Please, Simon and co, Igbos do not hate an average Hausa or Yoruba man, all we are asking is a restructured Nigeria that will enable us to develop at our own pace and be part of the developing global community and not to be continually held down by Nigerian as it as been for past 50 years. A restructured Nigeria will benefit every Region and Nigeria will be better for it. But if non-restructuring forces Igbos to get Biafra, well and good. Igbos know that the last resort of going solo as Biafra will not be an easy journey at the beginning,but we will survive. Nothing good comes easy, we like taking challenges and to under taking things that are difficult.

    • KWOY

      Thank you very much. No other group hates the Igbo less than the other. Igbos capital sin is their genes tthat breeds envy. Let Biafra happen. We will suffer in the beginning but we will survive ultimately. We cannot reject Biafra bcos we will suffer. Bcos we will suffer more if we remain in Nigeria.

  • santos

    Gospel of hypocrisy by Simon kolawole as usual.

    Years back when i came across one your research work on Nigeria oil and gas industry and its negative results for the country, I began to take you serious and subsequently flowed you write ups.

    But your resent views on serious national issues makes it hard for anyone to believe that your acquired those level of education.

    There could only be one reason for these empty sermons of yours lately; HEPOCRISY!!!

  • Tony Oshea

    His first three paragraphs were dedicated to maligning Igbo’s, from demanding that Prof Soludo change his first name from “Charles” to ” Chukwuma” before he is accorded his due as an International scholar,to “New Nigerians” untainted with the spirit of self determination,to a video circulating about an Igbo man insulting Buhari and Yorubas( as if Yorubas don’t insult Igbos),then to “Evans” whose full native name is stated for effect,insinuating parochial innuendos,assuming that “Shina Rambo” and “Oyenusi” were Igbo people. This is the detribalized “new Nigerian” pontificating about the need to disabuse the mindset of Nigerians from hate-speech and profiling.

  • Jon West

    Sometime in the 1990s, I cornered the great mathematician and former Governor of of Old Oyo state, Dr Omololu Olunloye , at the lobby of the Nicon Hilton Hotel, and cajoled him to sign an autograph for me. He retorted that he was not a celebrity and wondered what any body wanted his authograph for. This was until he saw my message board and what was written on it – “Nigeria is the hypocrisy capital of the world”, a statement that was made by the renowned mathematician and university don. He thereafter signed the message board , while shaking his head in obvious sorrow.

    Reading through this homily by the great hypocrite and poster boy of Afonja genre journalism, Simon Kolawole, I cannot help but remember Omololu Olunloyo and his immortal words. Even the dying APC party of Simon’s hero, the missing-in-action Dullard from Daura, has as their slogan for their change mantra, the epithet “Change Begins With Me”, admittedly a very hollow and typical Nigerian statement of no intent. Simon and his Afonja genre journalism ilk, should stop bothering us with constant platitudes about Nigeria and the Nigerian situation and learn to walk their talk.

    Throughout this Father’s Day homily, which incidentally did not draw attention to fatherhood and its effect on the morality and mindset of the youth, Simon failed to mention the factors militating against the development of the New Nigerian mindset; justice, equity, empathy and a better world view among both the elite and the masses, a reality that is lacking because of the fraudulent nature of the country, its government and the quality of education of both the rulers and the ruled. A new mindset requires a new leadership and followership, both of which can only emerge from an enlightened environment, which the current Nigerian reality cannot inculcate in the people.

    While Fulani herdsmen terrorists are creating havoc accross the country, unchecked by the authorities, who appear helpless , courtesy of the emergence of the Life Patron of the Miyetti Allah Cattlemen’s Association as the President of Nigeria, Simon the hypocrite is waxing lyrical about Igbo hate messages, which by the way have not led to any single act of violence among those they are aimed at (the Igbo youth), in the manner of the Old Nigerian he is hypocritically castigating.

    Until those who are supposed to be the conscience of the nation (journalists) do the needful, Nigeria will continue to be Omololu Olunloyes nightmare country, where both the people and their leaders are engaged in a hypocritical race to nowhere while pretending to a willingness to change the great stampede to the abyss of state failure that we have finally arrived at.
    The New Nigerian is a real fantasy, as long as both the leaders, the people and the journalists that can intervene, as they did against Theresa May, After the recent Tower Fire in London, are chasing the shadows of peace without justice and equity. It wont pass muster and it has never done. Every good thing requires a lot of sacrifice.

    • William Norris

      “Every good thing requires a lot of sacrifice.”

      And the truth is that no Nigerian citizen is willing to make that sacrifice for Nigeria. Everyone knows this. That grown adults with great exposure and education can’t or pretend not to recognize this reality is why Nigeria is indeed HYPOCRISY by another name.

      • Jon West

        To be fair to the citizens of the Zoo, nobody can make sacrifices for a fraud; akin to making sacrifices for a 419er.

  • William Norris

    “In the New Nigeria, the one I would love to see, it is “Nigeria first” before your ethnic and religious leanings.”
    ______________________________________________________________________

    Well this is quite ambitious to say the least. To build Nigeria, Simon Kolawale and his fellow One Nigeria petro-patriots intend to abolish millions of years of evolved biological tendencies & behavioral psychology that has enabled the survival and multiplication of the human race.

    Though the same Simon Kolawale recognizes the difficulty of this chosen path:

    ______________________________________________________________
    “Building a New Nigeria is a tall order, let me say that. We start acquiring narrow mindsets from a tender age. We are socialised to view people from other ethnic groups, religions and cultures in a particular way, mostly unflattering. Every ethnic group harbours prejudices and biases against others. The good news, as if there is any good in the news, is that this is not a Nigerian problem. It is universal. Human beings are brought up under the influence of mindsets that eventually colour how they see their world and the world around them. This regulates how they think and how they understand and analyse issues. Their worldviews are shaped by inherited prejudices and biases.”
    _________________________________________________________________________

    Good, even you know that your detribalized, religiousy neutral New Nigeria an affront to nature.
    Nigeria has 2 choices –

    1. Continue with the British colonialist inspired suppression of tribal imperatives AND continue to suffer the resulting COMPARATIVE political and economic stagnation of the last 50 years when measured against those countries we all hold as models of progress.

    2. Restructure the nation into a confederacy of autonomous tribes like the EU where the tribes can bloom, compete and evolve a self reliant and self referencing existence. Indeed the EU is a good example of the progress that comes from embracing the inherent tribalism of human nature.

    Anything else anyone is telling you is A LIE, and Nigeria has been telling that colonial lie for over 100 years. It’s painful that that a man over 40 years old is still reasoning like a naive child. Same as with Simon here, a newer generation of Europeans are falling victim to “humanist” ideals and trying to blend all of Europe into one and reverse all the tribal progress made since 1945. They will fail because the human being remains just that – human.

    However unlike with Europe where such thinking is propelled by an atheistic idealism, everyone knows the true motivation for One Nigeria……nothing but a vile, selfish and greedy PETRO-PATRIOTISM.

  • LagLon

    simple simon at it again.

    there are 2 Nigerias. one immediately post the civil war – state driven failure dominated by military looters – sw and north and the other nigeria is the post 1999 democratic that has been mixed until pmb. those are the 2 nigerias.. you voted in 2015 to make nigeria great again.. which was a euph for north and west dominance and exclusivity… and this nurtured hatred that was magnified through a religious prism is why we are here today.

    one cant talk of nigeria, when the president that you didnt mention in your article excludes whole regions and employs the sickest form of nepotism… you even say it yourself if other articles ..that you dont mind where anyone comes from as long as.. the weak merit argument ..that drives exclusion. when he allocates and encourages the allocation to his zone. he does not believe in or practice what you are preaching… so why are you bothering.

    for the youth they know the truth. the sad thing is that when the apc won.. rather that beat a modern, conciliatory, magnanimous path they did exactly what was expected… and attacked.. capitalists, igbos, ss, foreigners even themselves .. and the economy responded accordingly. the only reason we arent completely flattened is that they also borrowed more money for zero purpose than several previous administrations combined!

    Simon, you may be a nice guy, but you should get on the side of history fast and start writing more nuanced and challenging articles.

    – why dont you ask ‘what is federal character?’ .. has it worked?
    – why not put in statistics for top federal sackings/ appointments since 2015, since 1999?
    – why not show the budget allocation for infrastructure by region since the war?
    – why not show who owns what oil blocks and what taxes they pay?

    you can hide from the truth, but when you do that those with minds cant even deny the truth the bigot speaks.. indeed the igbo leaders cant deny kanu’s truths.. simply because of the way pmb treated them – ngige can say this and that and amaechi can spin as a minister but even they know the truth.

    so we are where we are… Nigeria has had many chances to be one… Nigeria has had many chances to ‘change’… but when you put in 97/5 leaders – ostensibly to stop the SS finally making some money from their own resources what do you expect?

    So stop the whining. You know what you did and what you’ve gotten.

    Our presido is busy making Nigeria great again… and this time hopefully (with hands clasped and praying hard) Nigeria will become ‘change’.

    • FrNinja

      The truth is that the APC was once again the case of the Yoruba elite selling their group interest for the lucre of state corruption as in 1966. Lets see why.

      Post 1999 the wind of change and the advent of privatization and private investment enriched the south and especially the city of Lagos. From a GDP of less than $90 billion in 1999, Nigeria’s GDP grew four and five fold. The likes of VP Osibanjo got rich from his corporate relationships as did Tinubu from his tax and land interests in the state of Lagos and probable interests in OANDO. The likes of Adenuga became billionaires off telecoms privatization, others such as the Balogun family and Ade Ojo became multi-millionaires off banking consoidation.

      But what happened to the North? The North in general got left out. The remittance flow generally bypassed everywhere in the North save Abuja as did foreign private investment. A few generals and the northern government establishment got rich but on average the North got poorer.

      Goodluck Jonathan represented a nightmare for the Northern elite. A loss of the spoils of federal government and the inroads of southern businessmen into the oil business. He had to be removed. They found a convenient ally in the ACN’s leadership eyeing increased power at the center. Unfortunately these strange bed fellows have found their plans have failed. Buhari inherited a government whose main source of revenue has been cut in half and his Yoruba partners have watched as their asset values have collapsed. With oil prices expected to remain low well into 2018 what is sure is that the ACN partnership may itself unravel as the Yoruba elite flee back to the policies of free wheeling capitalism that has been their bread and butter while abandoning Buhari and his economic nationalistic policies.

      • LagLon

        i agree.
        it was absolute madness. but it was an act of faith (islam) also.
        I think that tinubu realised that he would not survive a second term GEJ, he would lose influence and he almost lost lagos anyways!
        but there is also a more petty and distasteful rationale for GEJ must go logic.
        would you allow your drivers harvard trained son to marry your daughter?
        the social mobility of the SS and SE was quite distressing for the SW leaders and it had to be stopped. the marginalisation that they complained about was really a rebalancing to a more normal share of the pie… but it was unacceptable.
        random SS – this and that types flying private jets and enjoying an owambe that was larger than theirs really put a lump in the ego driven throat.
        I reckon that the ACN will regroup and recover simply because there is no opposition and tinubu is healthy. you can already hear the unifying calls of yourba ronu – theyve even reached out to fayose/ saraki etc… so its a storm in a lagos teacup.
        the key is what happens to biafra or true federalism – lagos has always benefited because it was advantaged over other areas – no other proper seaport (why?), no other southern international airport (why?), numerous govt registration offices are in lagos or abuja (with no corresponding office in the east)? even competing in Lagos (home stadium advantage) … etc etc.
        Deep down I’m not sure that the SW is prep’d for what could happen after Federalism.. the SW has had autonomy for a while but in the end the elite chose the centre instead.
        We watch and wait….

  • Omooba

    BLESSING IN DISGUISE: Reminds me of the stage drama ” ONIDIRI” performed and directed by uncle Jimmy Solanke recently at the National Theatre to commemorate 50 years of Lagos State. If Okagbare had been visiting the Onidiri to plat her hair and symbolise African womanhood with gait even on the pitch, the embarrassment will have been evitable.
    It is one paradox of our Nigerian indeed African negritude that portrays our today’s ladies as victims of ATTACHMENTS; nails, wigs, eyelashes even when naturally endowed.

  • JATAU MADAKI

    Beautiful piece. Certainly i pray that Nigerians would find it within them to love one another. However, i would like to correct an impression. The tribe you referred to as Kaje are actually known as BAJJU.The former name is to put it mildly, derogatory. Appreciate your writing all time. GOD Bless Amin

  • Don Franco

    Dear Simon,

    Please STOP with your intellectual disingeniousness! That you’re subconsciously biased against Igbo people is an open secret given the ignoble role you played in disparaging and destroying the sterling achievements of Constance Ikokwu at ThisDay Newspaper. You’re quick to point out the vituperations of IPOB; but you tacitly encourage the age-old gang-up of the North and SE against Igbo people.
    Don’t you agree that a quick Referendum leading to secession and or Restructuring will obviate the need for the deep seethed hate and division that’s threatening to totally destroy this Niger Area?
    What is the point in postponing the day of doom, in a republic that hasn’t work, is not working and that’s not gonna work?

  • Powell Tallen

    simon kolawole (I will never spell your name starting with a capital letter), surely you are one of the hate speech architects! If you don’t like hate speech, you wouldn’t have supported and campaigned for the master of hate speech called buhari whose hate speeches claimed the lives of thousands of young innocent souls. Even as you talked about hate speech now, by saying that IPOB supporters should think twice, you have already exhibited your natural yoruba hatred for the ibos. Go and read the derogatory words and phrases you used against Jonathan in all your past and present articles in the hope that your hausa fulani muslims masters will repay you yoruba slave with PR position, sorry your slave brother adesina got it, continue trying your luck. You are the least qualified to preach new nigeria to us, please shut up!

  • Daniel Obior

    Simon, people opposed Buhari first because of what he stands for rather than his ethnicity. His record in 1984-85 was clearly bad. He was a military despot and was tyrannical. His utterances out of power and government were often inciting, putting doubts on his leadership qualities. Unfortunately, did not prove people wrong when he took over in 2015. He declared he would be one sided with his 97% versus 5% statement. He is parochial and nepotistic. Governing was completely out of his depth, with the economy diving into recession. To then say he was opposed because of ethnicity is absolute bunkum.

    • William Norris

      Yes, his record marked him as as unfit for office but Buhari was ALSO opposed because of his tribe. Get real.

      • Sustain Transformation

        Bill, using your exhortation, “getting real” is acknowledging the fact that a president or presidential candidate “Atiku” will not receive the same degree of “ethnic” opposition as one PMB. There is something as “own injury” as being perpetuated by Donald Trump in the USA. Dont argue for sake of argument. Call a spade a spade. PMB injured himself not only by his remarks but by his actions.

      • LagLon

        WN it wasnt about tribe.
        If it was Atiku, SLS.. anyone else…
        PMB is loved and hated because of what he personally stands for.
        He is/ was a trump, le Pen, Nick Farage …hate and more hate rolled into one.
        Stick a civil war hero on a ballot and he aint gonna unify… Quite possibly the most divisive person ever put on a Nigerian ballot.
        that folks thought it was ok.. was really a needle into a wound for the SE..
        but that decision was driven by faith on top of tribe.. even a muslim muslim ticket was considered.
        ..the whole structure was meant to say ‘fu** you’ to the SS and SE ….and Indeed the man did say it and do it afterwards.
        So in this case it wasn’t really tribe on the SE side.. it was the person.

        • William Norris

          You and I already had an extensive discussion about Trump and YOU strongly stated and I agreed that TRIBE was a big motivation for electing Trump.

          If you think Trump is like Buhari then TRIBE is definitely ALSO a factor in Buhari’s election. That’s just logic. Note the word I emphasized here…. “ALSO”.

          Tribe was ALSO a factor in Buhari’s election. Even the Yoruba who voted for him were basically voting their TRIBAL BIAS against the Igbo.

          • LagLon

            apologies… i agree… i was talking about the reasons for the 5% not liking pmb.. its wasnt his tribe it was more personal to him!

      • Daniel Obior

        My first sentence has the word “FIRST”, implying other reasons. Fully agree tribe is ALSO one. Simon’s article implied nothing else but ethnicity, and that is what I criticised. I am real.

  • Thompson Iyeye

    Realistically, the “New Nigeria” being advocated here can never exist, simply because nothing that good can ever come out of a foundation this bad. Honestly speaking, Nigeria was never created to function in the true sense of a country of people with common purposes. There was no predominating common strand binding the people together. The British created Nigeria for their administrative convenience, with far less regard to how the multitudes of different ethnic groups will coexist with common ownership of the product.

    Coming from this basic fact and fast forwarding to the departure of the British with independence, the only saving grace for Nigeria was the federal system that was truly practiced during the first republic. Each of the few units or regions forming the federation had more in common among their people, and had sufficient room for self governance, with a weaker centre, compared to what we have today. Competition was relatively healthier rather than the numerous infighting of today to control a strong centre.

    To believe that one day a Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Fulani, Ijaw, or Igala man, to mention a few, will one day see himself first as Nigerians before his ethnic group, is living in false hope. Those in power and authority will continue to make appointments in favour of their groups and the rest of us will continue to see ethnicity as the basis of such appointments, rather than merit.

    To conclude, the elephant in the room is the unitary system we are running that puts all the powers at the centre. That is what we should put our energy in changing by restructuring back to the federal system we once practiced. That will comparatively de-emphasis tribe and ethnicity, instead of chasing the mirage of de-tribalising people. It is a natural instinct of people all over the world to be tribal, and very little can successfully be done about that. Getting them to channel those tribal instinct for common purposes, is what makes more sense, and a restructured Nigeria is a vehicle in that direction.

    • Sustain Transformation

      Thank you Thompson

    • Edon B.

      End of discussion. Thank you!

    • FrNinja

      Even better why not break up Nigeria? There is nothing to suggest that Nigeria gains from its union. There are no borders in Nigeria but travelling from Onitsha to Lagos is equivalent to travelling between Nigeria and Benin Republic. You will encounter lots of bad roads and corrupt police checkpoint. Or what about ways of doing things? You go to the north you have states practicing Sharia, sponsoring trips to Mecca. Yet we say we are a secular country.

      Nigeria as a concept has failed. If with over $800 billion in oil earnings over decades our leaders could not create a nation with multiples of that injection of capital (Nigerian GDP is worth less than $300 billion) but we are here in 2017 talking about power failure and bad roads then Nigeria should call it a day.

      Maybe going back to our ethnic homelands like most of Europe ended up doing in fragmenting into lots of relatively homogeneous nation states is the future of Nigeria not Nigeria pretending to be a United States of America.

      • Thompson Iyeye

        Nigeria failed more because of the concentration of power and resources at the centre. Restructuring by devolving power away from the centre will improve things without the shock of a break up. Regions will keep most of their resources. Those who chose then to go on pilgrimages with their money will be free to do so without impacting on the resources of others. A break up may however become inevitable if restructuring is not made possible.

  • Nkem

    Simon, massive injustice in the land breeds anger and resentment; anger and resentment are only looking for culprits in the other man’s tribe – the other man mostly being the one in Dodan Barracks / Aso Rock at every point in time. You said Nigerians get indoctrinated from childhood. I don’t want to believe that you are talking about the children of the very rich and very privileged, who grow up thinking that this country is the best thing to have happened to their family, or who grow up sharing their world and their bliss with equally privileged kids from other tribes. So we should stop whinnying about ethnicity and start calling out injustice by its real identity.

    • Sustain Transformation

      Nkem while i agree with you, lets not loose sight that certain structures or systems promote the status quo. Although injustice may not evaporate in a restructured Nigeria, it will greatly be reduced. Lets all push to salvage our nation through a structural change.

  • KWOY

    Happily enough no one will pay attention to this gospel of hippocrisy! The only truth here is that the ‘Yoruba’ fought Jonathan, not bcos of performance, but bcos of marginalization. It was the reason Ihejirika became a Sponsor of Boko Haram.

    During constitutional amendment debate in 2012 during when an additional state for the SE was on the front burner, an AIT program producer from the same race hosted a programme in which NO Igbo was among the discussants . & naturally d discussion returned an obvious verdict… A sense of competition borne out of envy will always make some people ever ready to crown the devil to hold others down! Even the policy of fighting change since Aburi is part of it. Happily u will ot be able to decree anything about it. Even if we are incapable of changing our circumstance now, it does not mean we will Forget! If Biafra fails, I will reject my seat in heaven in protest!

    • Orphic

      Lets put issues in context, the Yorubas did not fight Jonathan! They opposed – for whatever reason, Jonathan within the normal and correct democratic norms. They neither obstructed nor waged armed insurrection against his government.
      Equally no one objects to the widespread antipathy of Igbos to Buhari, as long as it is also within democratic norms.

      • Daniel Obior

        Are you not just playing with words here? Am sure nobody is implying physical fight. That being the case, fighting figuratively is more or less the same as opposing.

      • 100%federalist

        More explicitly…why dont they say ACN…or mainstream SW parties. How can the entire Yoruba be said to be against Jonathan when even in 2015 the APC had to battle to win in Lagos.
        In 2011 Jonathan won in most SW states. It all comes down to bread and butter..Jonathan..reduced the butter in peoples bread by 2015…but by 2017 Buhari has taken away the bread.
        What Komolafe failed to address however is that Buhari is the poster boy of the old Nigeria…an ethnic bigot and a religious bigot…he deepened the prejudices of our society.
        Gladly he wont be contesting any elections in 2019..even if he wants to.
        We need true federalism not this Utopia Simon is preaching. It is a pie in the sky…there will always be biases but we can mitigate them with diversity management inherent in true federalism.

        • Sustain Transformation

          I loe your bread and butter analogy. Rehoboams scorpion.

      • KWOY

        I do not consider my opposition against Buhari or against Nigeria as a campaign for a better opportunity for the Igbo in Nigeria. MY SPIRIT WILL NEVER ACCEPT A NIGERIA EVEN IF BAIFRA FAILS TO BE ACTUALIZED. I will accept the kingdom of darkness than accept Nigeria!

    • Nnaemeka Emma Chikezie

      I want to ask you and other bigots a question; how does insulting the Yoruba here help your case? Why don’t you individualise your critiscm? There are so many people of other ethnicities who might agree with your overall submission but because of your attack on the Yoruba as a whole they will side Simon and then you lose your influence. Therefore you are being emotional and not logical. I hope you are still a youth because if you are middle aged then there is a problem.

      • okbaba

        Thanks bro. You never achieve anything through insults. You end up being ganged up against because who knows who your next insults will hit

        • KWOY

          U started ganging up since 1966. This is 51 years after. What can you do that u have not done already?!

          • Jon West

            The truth shall set you free. The gang-up failed to achieve its objectives but succeeded in driving Nigeria into the abyss of a failed state. Unfortunately the co-conspirators appear not to know the state of the Nigerian nightmare yet, hence all these stupid posts.

      • KWOY

        I will not lose my influence. Let them carry on if they can. It is only the blind who would not see the house caving in! Read the newspapers & tell me who is the one calling the other names! Buhari & Fulani herdsmen was a product of the press – conventional & unconventional!

    • Tony Oshea

      Biafra is INEVITABLE ,achievable and real,therefore secure your seat in heaven. It is a matter of time,just like nobody gave Southern Sudan a chance to actualize its independence. By 2005, USA predicted that the “process ” of balkanizing Nigeria “will commence in 2015”. Some ignoramuses rained abuses on USA,however today is the tomorrow that was predicted yesterday.

  • remm ieet

    Okagbare could have grown her natural hair to make Nigeria and Africa proud. The only Nigerian in the sports meet brought disgrace back home. She went to Oslo to display an Indian hair on her African head and then everything went wrong from there. She jumped very well but lost because the hair fell back. We have lost out completely in sports, no more serious contenders for Nigeria. A country of 160 million people cannot produce sports stars but fake wig stars. Hmmm

  • obinnna77

    Such Waffle. You want a new ‘Niger-arean’, but proffer no steps as to how such a specie might evolve. Let’s remind you of a few true ‘Nigerians’. Invariably old ones. Cyprian Ekwensi, who wrote about the North better than the Northerners, in the words of Ibrahim Tahir; Chike Obi, who named his sons Mustapha, and Olufemi, Nnamdi Azikiwe, who loved Nigeria so much, he abandoned Biafra. Aguiyi Ironsi, so oblivious to ethnicity, he surrounded himself with his would be assassins. In hindsight, we can safely say that the ‘old’ Nigerian is a naive utopian. The ‘new’, ethnically centered one, the more realistic. Listen to Arewa youth, listen to IPOB, listen to OPC. While listening is still possible.

    • Sustain Transformation

      Mmh. Interesting perspective. But I still wish a restructured nation will bring out the best in people occupying the geographical entity described as Nigeria.

      • William Norris

        Yes, restructured so that each tribe is completely responsible for it’s own well being, to the greatest extend possible. A Nigeria where each tribe will prosper or fail according to their ingenuity, natural abilities and innovation….socially, politically and economically.

        The UK imposed a detribalized Nigeria on all of you.

        The same UK is organized as a CONFEDERACY OF TRIBAL NATIONS and over time, definitely over the last half century, has devolved more and more autonomy to those component nations.

        And yet Nigerians still carry on with this “detribalized” nonsense. Just like they carry on with “Christianity” when the Europeans who brought you the religion are now majority atheist.

        The whole thing just befuddles the logical mind. What is wrong with the Black African?

        • FrNinja

          Lol! You had to start with the UK and end with the Black African. Minus your racial rabble you make a lot of sense.

          Let me say there is nothing wrong with the Black African. He is experiencing the political convulsions of nation building that every group of human beings experience when fighting over space and resources. During this period, Nigeria may come out a superpower (highly unlikely but you never know…) or may end up like most of Western Europe (fragmented into various powerful nation states).

          About the British colonialists, they did more good for Nigeria than bad. In light of the major ethnic groups, they organized Nigeria as a proper federation with separate regions and administered it as such. In light of the disparity of resources, the south revenue was used to subsidize the north, the swamp of Lagos was transformed into a vital trade port as was Port Harcourt. Their missionaries brought education to Nigeria and integrated Nigeria into the global trade system. Most importantly for those that don’t know Nigerian history pre 1960 the British halted the slave trade and the advance of the Fulani Jihadists that had swept and taken over half of Yorubaland.

          Since the British left what great advances in organization has the Nigerian created? We left the regional system created by the British and the parliamentary system and adopted the American federal system and today we cannot supply 24 hour electricity nor maintain roads. The great government colleges the British bequeathed Nigeria have become what exactly under Nigerian control ?

        • Chichi Girl

          Welcome William. We have missed u. Where on earth is gohen

          • William Norris

            ChiChi please stop asking after other men. You belong to me.

            Now bring that your succulent ass over here…I know you missed me.