Monday letter1

In the past, I used to ask myself, “What has Nigeria done for me?” But these days, there is usually guilt when that thought intrudes. There is now the thought of, “What have I done for Nigeria?”

I have come to understand that I have been a part of the Nigeria problem. I have been more interested in taking from the country than in giving to it. I have been fiercer in criticising the country than in delivering solutions to its challenges. And I have expressed more passion for sentimental nothings than for real issues.

The bigger problem is that there are many of us citizens who are more interested, like me, in taking from the country than in giving to it, and who are imbued with ethnic and sectional passion. But I hope Santa Claus helps deliver this memo to many Nigerians like me.

Nation-building is not about building infrastructure. It is not about allocating projects to a section of the country to appease them. It is not about giving people from a certain ethnic stock federal appointments to pacify a region or group of people. It is not about distribution of state resources, even though that is inclusive.

It is about the people coming into a peaceful accord with one another; treating one another fairly; respecting one another’s views, religion, beliefs, culture and political leanings. It is about the people understanding their differences and protecting the other’s right to be different.

It is true; leadership plays a pivotal role in fostering unity and in nation-building. But leadership will fail if the people are unwilling to build the nation.  That an Igbo man calls a Hausa man “aboki” is symptomatic of latent resentment; that a Hausa man calls an Igbo man “Nyamiri” is also symptomatic of the same.

What can the government do in this case? It is up to citizens to build that country they desire. And it starts by ending stereotypes, needless conspiracy theories and imaginary plots.  It also starts by giving – thoughts, time, energy – to Nigeria.

In conclusion, the government should consider framing a policy to encourage inter-ethnic marriage. The government should be intentional about this.  Marriage is an adhesive; it will help in bonding families and cementing ethnic ties.

In the old world, kings often give their daughters in marriage to other kingdoms to hold the peace and to solidify international relationships.

This may appear simplistic; but I do not think anyone will want to take up arms against his in-laws.

I will be better for Nigeria.

Fredrick Nwabufo,

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