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A Country Of Settlers

NIGERIANS are getting to the reality that every part of the country wants to free space and whatever resources it can for itself.

The arguments are not about who settlers are and who are the indigenes, they are about the fact that Nigerians are now grappling with issues of citizenship. It is an issue that deserves handling with uttermost sensibility and sensitivity.

How are citizens of a 50-yearold country unable to identify themselves? Why are we not able to learn from other countries?

Each time there is a conflagration in any part of the country, most of those who claim they are seeking solutions to the crisis are behind it. How can we peg all crises on tribe and religion? The issues are deeper and we have to confront them with sincerity instead of exploring poverty, unemployment, and religion to create troubles throughout the country.

Legislations would not resolve this matter easily.  Our Constitution already provides adequately for the rights of Nigerians.

Section 42 (1) states, “A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person –
(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or

(b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions.

(2) No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth.

These provisions on their own should have been enough to give Nigerians the right to live in any part of the country. There are deeper issues than these.

Section 153 provides for a Federal Character Commission, for example, whose work, in the main counts against the provisions of Section 42. The politicians can come up with all types of legislations, but it is clear that none of these can change the things that ruin the country, if the attitude of those in authority is to pretend Nigerians are made for laws, instead of laws for Nigerians.

Nigerian children lose admission to schools in States where their parents are not indigenes, though they pay taxes there. There are positions some Nigerians are denied, contrary to Section 42 because of their origins, ethnic groups, sex and everything that this Section abhors.

We have to look beyond legislation to free ourselves from the shackles of being settlers in our own country. The time is now.


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