A destructive generational obsession that stems from strong loyalty to one’s own tribe or social group has painfully become the foundation of our society. A behaviour and attitude caused by our fellow countrymen, promoted mainly by the most educated and powerful amongst us, embraced by the young and the old and passed on from generation to generation. The abuse of power, escape from justice, suppression of merits, support for perpetrators, rallying of corruption, contribution to public violence, promotion of mediocrity and, limitation of tribal unity and agreement are the damaging effects and set-backs of tribalism, which has crawled into the Nigerian constitution. In Nigeria today, tribalism is sitting on the highest seat of what is perceived as standard, normal or an exception. It has been uplifted to the position of “State civilisation”- a social way of life which influences public dialogue, by deciding what we oppose or support, controlling how we react, communicate and reason.
This blind obsession with ethnicity has allowed the general public believe that an average Igbo man is better than an average Yoruba or Hausa man and vice versa. Also, a Yoruba man sees Lagos as his entire world, while an Hausa man sees Kano as the universe and an Igbo man sees the entire world as his village. A nation where hausa’s say Igbo’s are greedy and proud, Igbo’s says Yoruba’s are wicked, and Yoruba says Hausa’s are primitive and a practise among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs. That being the case, is this not a tribalist country practising nepotism? A society where it is less acceptable to marry someone from a different tribe and tribal backgrounds which decides if you should be welcomed into a gathering or not. Actions which only portrays and inflicts injurious consequences on another person. Also, a nation where your indigenous name grants you a persons natural accepting inclination, biased employment, easy acquisition of properties and admissions into schools. An advantageous effect creating favourable circumstance that increases the chances of personal or group success and effectiveness.
With regards to the fervent and glaring nepotism caused by tribalism, is it that our history or founding fathers are to blame for marginalisation and partiality? But if it were the case, why are most African countries not half as obsessed with diversity as Nigeria, even when they are as divided as we are. I think corruption, religion, competition and greed are responsible for this incurable fixation with tribal identity. Collectively attributing a person's character as a consequence of tribe, especially with demeaning personalities, undermines his/her strengths, resourcefulness, uniqueness, attributes, skilfulness and behaviour. For example, the previous public concerns from the Niger Delta were not supposed to be associated with ethnic group in the first place. Instead of categorising the agitations as an “Ijaw issue”, it was expected to be primarily viewed as an act of insurgency, which grew to its peak due to the climbing rate of poverty, destructive environmental hazards and diminishing population size that was mainly caused by the irregular activities caused by oil companies and the local governments inability to devise new and sustainably environmental development.
We must stop judging people by their surnames, accents, dressing and colour. Black people tend to point a strong finger with a shameful tag at white people, forgetting that we have four powerful fingers with many humiliating labels positioned towards us like hypocrites. We accept this tribalistic division amongst us, but automatically become a boiling pot of blood when the word “Nigga” slips out of the mouth of a pale white foreigner. Many say that Africans can settle their own problems without interference from white people, a “brother to bother thing”, but I say to you, there is absolutely no difference between the concept of Tribalism and Racism, as tribalism is only a softer word for racism. What kind of brother will continuously be at war with his own brother and for how many years do they think they can survive after they have wiped out everything that was once precious to them.
How much more can we withstand the division, the hatred and the limitation, how much longer can we lay our exposed bone-marrows on the bed of an emergency room without cure, when my own black brother refuses to release the antidote for my survival. Could it be that I will perish by the sword held by my own flesh and blood, if this is so, I was therefore cursed before I was born, to face a life of punishment instead of impunity.
If my brother volunteers to run for an election as president, but he is dismissed by his political party due to zonal disadvantages, then tell me, are we not a divided people?. Must our existence as Africans be interwoven with segregation, sanctions, sections and hypocrisy, a punishment that is regrettably fuelled by our fellow countrymen. It has now become evident that tribalism has deeply eaten the core of our existence and character, so profoundly that regardless of a person’s settlement, exceptional qualifications and excellent contributions to his community, a “State of Origin” or “Local Government Area” identification is a golden ticket that qualifies an inexperienced and disqualifies a more credible and capable individual in government administrations, business establishments, educational institutions, marriages and many more.
I am of the opinion that if a Nigerian invented Apple iPhones, the next obligation after inputting the pass-code is to type in ones “State of Origin” before the device can be accessed, all for the primary purpose of segregation and limitation. How can we become citizens of Nigeria with common rights and benefits, if we are expected to be identified by our “State of Origin” in almost everything we partake in. The citizens fight for equality in fragile areas such as government positions and professional salaries, yet, use ethnicity to divide us all the same. We must quench the fire of tribalism before its hungry flames devours our entire lineage and race. If we cannot see ourselves in each other, we will continue to stretch the distance between us, as the same things that binds us can divide us and drive us apart. Whether white, black or mixed, no culture is older than the human race. For Nigeria to move forward with the ability to compete with western civilisation, we must initiate courageous measures to discontinue the act of tribalism and nepotism, such as terminating the “State of Origin” recognition, as it has only divided the citizens further into poverty and hatred. The people must live in unification and a love that is shared equally amongst individuals, if we are to expect a developing and sustainable economy.
I hope this meets you well.