Nigeria’s heyday as a country remains in the past when federalism, in its genuine sense, was practiced. During this time, countries like South Korea or Taiwan were not a match for Nigeria in every metric of development conceivable or in any index of progress that is measurable. It was the time the world cast its hope on Nigeria as the messiah of the Black race, and it was also the same period when ethnic suspicion was less intense in many people’s minds.
At that time, Nigerians of Igbo extraction could rise to the peak of their careers in the Yoruba world and sometimes take over some political leadership roles. A Yoruba person could also attain the zenith of his or her career in the North, with absolutely no fear of contradictions or despair of ethnic reprisal. So was a Northern Nigerian in other regions. No wonder these regions developed at an exponential capacity during the period. The intellectual capacity and will to serve were primary, not one’s ethnic affiliation, which, sadly, has become the crux of contemporary politics in Nigeria. Nigerians of that period could comfortably live with one another and set up their economic activities in places different from their homelands. They would nurse no fear of alienation or risk the consequences of xenophobia that come from suspicion. The absence of this gave everyone the impression that Nigeria was indeed home to everybody, regardless of their ethnic identities.
Then came a period of the bad, when Nigerians of nationalist posture took a U-turn from their philosophy of development and nation-building. In place of true nationalism, they planted the seeds of division, ethnic superiority, religious competition, and racial prejudice that are now germinating the fruits of discord seen everywhere today. Life in Nigeria in contemporary times is inundated with the experiences of ethnic politics that have so overwhelmed the country that it has created ethnic suspicion where it is unnecessary. It began with the dubious introduction of, or preferably the imposition of, constitutions that do not reflect the plebiscitary decisions. When the overall body of rules and regulations binding on people do not represent their actual voices, it gives room for the promotion of any and every agenda that usually suits the premonitions and predetermination of secluded people.
Nigeria and Nigerians are required to question this ethnic suspicion because, generally speaking, knowing the basics of a problem would give one the advantage of diagnosing the issues accurately and proffering the necessary solutions to the ravaging challenges.
To run a multicultural and ethnically diverse country requires a more sophisticated political system and ideology. This, therefore, means that once ethnic politics is allowed to thrive in the country, it is an indirect invitation to misgovernance, tensions, contradictions, controversy, and many others. This, regrettably so, is an indictment of the political class that overruns the affairs of the country. Perhaps because these politicians have their hidden agenda, they would promote mediocrity by showing an aversion to reason and sound diplomacy. The inputs from seasoned experts and intellectuals would be dismissively discarded because power would not persuade them of the quality of intellection. As they travel at an accelerated speed in retrogression towards this wrong trajectory, the country would be nearing disintegration, as chaos and strife would arrest the polity when the politics of ethnicity explodes.
In Nigeria today, Nerves are high, anger is coming up at very high levels, and psychological fear is griping the defenseless masses. Some Nigerians have now been tacitly branded as more Nigerian than the others.
The very failure to embrace federalism as the foundation of Nigeria’s political system has been why the prevarication that brought about the emergence of consuming challenges is seen across the country today.
Political systems such as unitary government, federalism, feudalism, and a host of others are available to suit societies’ sociopolitical conditions, according to their formation or expansion. For example, a unitary system of ruling could be well desirable for expressions of human identity that are patrilineal or matrilineal. Such a system of government is mostly unsuitable for people in Nigeria, which is of diverse socio-cultural backgrounds. The incompatibility of this political ideology in the country is always manifested by the series of controversies and strives or contradictions that emerge in the Nigerian environment. For Nigeria, the suitability of federalism cannot be oversimplified, and because of the absence of the political culture of federalism, chaos is engendered.
The most effective way of moving a multicultural country like Nigeria to an enviable height is the employment of a flexible administrative system, without which would be no progress.
Its time to discard the old order and embrace the new. An opportunity beckons with the birth of a third force. A word is enough for the wise. We need to take back our country asap. Time waits for no country.
Duruebube Uzii na Abosi.