As good governance has nosedived in Nigeria over many years, ethnicity and nepotism have been fashioned into cudgels.
Nigeria is a country of staggering diversity. What the amalgamation of 1914 achieved was to bring together people so different from each other in tongue, tribe and creed that they had no business being with each other not to talk of eating on the same table and becoming strange bedfellows in a marriage of convenience that has since proven unworkable but forbiddingly difficult to dissolve.
There was Nigeria`s North with its eccentricities of religion and values. There was Nigeria`s South with its delicately constituted societies and superiority complex. The amalgamation of 1914 initially seemed a masterstroke that brought two sections with diametrically opposed worldviews into bed to consummate a highly contentious marriage of convenience and birth Nigeria. Today, the country like a child is the very image of the differences of its parents.
At the beginning, the promise was staggering, even dizzying. Oil was discovered in 1956 in Olobiri, Bayelsa State, just four years before Nigeria`s independence, to add to the resources Nigeria had at its disposal from the strides the various regions had made in agriculture. At independence in 1960, and with an abundance of resources, the country `s journey of nationhood fascinatingly promised to be one interminable fattening ceremony entertained by an orchestra of progress.
The music was to falter badly in 1967, when young military officers, indulging the wild stupidity of youth, conspired to drive Nigeria into the wilderness of a Civil War. In three terrifying years, Nigeria`s early promise was incinerated in a conflagration of chaos, its place taken by a horror story written with a pen dripping with blood and bile from Maikujera to Mbaise. It has been a sobering story.
Today, decades after Nigeria`s story first went sour, the aftertaste afflicts many mouths still. This is lent credence by the fact that when many Nigerians open their mouths to converse with Nigeria, a blizzard of bile breaks forth.
So, ethnicity has become a profiler as well as a profile. Those from the South are considered secessionists or secessionist sympathizers who are only half-hearted about the Nigerian project. Nigerians from the North are considered terrorists or terrorist sympathizers who exacerbate Nigeria`s already tenuous security situation.
Because suspicion streaked along ethnic lines is so viscous with malice, the country has become a boiling cauldron of emotions. On the national stage, with the parting of lips or raising of hands come the inevitable questions of provenance and profession of faith.
These may seem innocuously general questions but ardent listeners of Nigeria`s story know that the scalding, scolding posers are some of the foundational queries of nepotism in Nigeria.
With the constitutionally guaranteed federal character principle shriveling before the nepotistic occupants of Nigeria`s public offices, what determines who gets what in the country these days is neither merit nor application but connection to whom.
As a result of this, many dogs are given bad names so they could be hung and the quest to get into the offices that matter in the country is usually cut-throat.
One of Nigeria`s favourite slogans is ‘unity in diversity’. This slogan pays tribute to Nigeria`s rich diversity. However, with the many challenges convulsing the country, Nigerians need a genuine reconciliation among themselves as well as to the country they call their own.
This national reconciliation is imperative because it is now beyond question that all hands are not on deck in the Nigerian project. The reason for this is that a lot of people are disgruntled because of the fact that there is neither equity nor equality in the country.
A lot of the problems bother on poor perception which manifests in a lack of confidence in public institutions in Nigeria. It has been ugly. It will take a while before it gets pretty again.