By ABBA A. MOHAMMAD
Nigeria, officially the Federal republic of Nigeria, is a constitutional Federal Republic comprising 36 states and its federal capital territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east and Niger Republic in the North. The country has a population of almost 165 million people and more than 600 different ethnic groups; the three largest and influential ethnic groups in the country being Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. In terms of religion Nigeria is roughly split half and half between Muslims and Christians with a very small minority who practice traditional religion. But the major problem presently facing this great country, the giant of Africa, is the issue of ethnicity and tribalism.
Tribalism means man’s supporting his people to who he belongs whether they are right or wrong, oppressing or oppressed; belonging of these group can be due to kith and kin, ethnicity, color, birth place, citizenship, school of thought, or a group of people with common interests. Tribalism is the feeling of being better than others, and that others are of lower class. So, that person that has this feeling of tribalism thinks so highly of himself and of those to whom he belongs. This kind of thinking is corrupt and it is in fact a kind of arrogance that comes from the mentality of shaytan (DEVIL) which lead him not to prostrate to Adam. Shaytan said “I am better than him, you created me out of fire and you created him (Adam) out of clay.” But now in Nigeria tribalism has become a force that is more powerful than nuclear bombs. Tribalism feeds terrorism. What is happening in Niger Delta or happened with OPC or Bakasi and Boko Haram is unfortunately an expression of a wider and deeper tribalism. The selection of public office holders that have plunged the country into darkness is a twin brother of tribalism in the government circle. In Nigeria, you will find people in high places dolling out contracts to inept contractors because of tribal affinity instead of genuine qualification.
As I write, Nigeria’s Presidency is “handed down” to people who do not even understand what Nigeria’s problems are, let alone knowing how to solve them all because they belong to privileged regions or tribes and I am not a believer that Government has the solution to all problems; a country should be like a mother to all its citizens, she must provide a level playing field for all so that those who work hard and play by the rules can be rewarded accordingly.
A country should not make some to work extra-ordinarily hard just to get by while some are virtually given the key to the government coffers to enrich themselves at will. This is one of the major reasons why Nigeria is yet to achieve a true “one Nigeria.” It was tribalism that indirectly engendered the Nigerian civil war and indirectly gives birth to the present evil called “quota system” and step brother called “state of origin.” These are direct product and consciously designed out of mediocrity to model the destruction of Nigeria. This fuelled the growth of National inequality and anger of perceived injustice. One of the unfortunate characteristics of tribalism is this unnecessary competition with other tribes. The Yoruba becomes “us” and the Igbo’s and Hausa becomes “them”. This in truth is what led to most of our problems and in turn it leads to the most evil of Nigeria traits – religious clashes. The belief in the superiority of one tribe and the weakness of others has led to various untold number of wars in Nigeria.
To prove superiority and to consider other tribes inferior is actually evil, as Islam teachers that all human beings are equal in the eyes of the Creator despite tribal differences. “Oh mankind We created you from a single (pair) of a male and female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other), verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you” (Qur’an 49:13). The holy prophet (S.A.W) peace be upon him said “whoever calls for tribalism/nationalism is not of us”. Also, there is no doubt that the bible also made references to tribalism, when Apostle Paul wrote to the people of Corinth, warning them” if there is jealousy or rivalry or schism among you, are you not flesh and behaving according to the way of the flesh? Because when someone says, I am of Paul and another, I am of Apollo’s, are you not fleshly? Who is Paul and who is Apollo? They are servants through whom you believed. Let no one take pride in people for everything is yours, Paul, Apollo’s… but as you, you are of Christ and Christ is of God. “ (1 covinthans 3:3 – 5, 21 – 22, 23). Unfortunately we all know that many people from around the world most especially in Nigeria, use tribe for the wrong reasons thus tribalism becomes a dangerous disease in our father land, Nigeria.
Due to this reasons, I think it is time for us to accept that responsibility to other tribes, this is being used. We all have common destiny whether from the north, the south, the east or the west. The realization to the fact that we are all victims of economic imperialism and foreign vested interests should prompt and persuade us to educate ourselves by all means of the need for oneness of Nigeria, and realize that geography is no barrier to national cooperation and mutual understanding.
We are all Nigerians. Long live Nigeria. Long live people of Nigeria.
Mohammad writes from Unguwar Shanu Kaduna. He can be reached on , 08099698669