By Mary Agbo
Nigerian women should not fold their arms and watch, while some individuals ruin the efforts of our patriots. Truly this country came into being by the effort of the British colonial masters in the amalgamation of north and south protectorates in 1914.Some people would want us to believe that this was a mistake and born out of greed of the colonial masters to economically exploit the nation, but no, it was God’s will that brought about the creation of Nigeria.
Even if, at that time, the core reason for the merger of the protectorates was for administrative convenience and ease of control over our economic resources, it was still the will of the God to make Nigeria a great nation, the largest south of Sahara. The country is blessed with a vast land of 923,768km2 with a population of 140431790 (2006 census) and a large economy. Nigeria is known as the giant of Africa; the most populous country in Africa and 7th in the world.
Nigeria is richly blessed with mineral of all sorts with enormous petroleum reserve. Nigeria has been identified as a regional power on the Africa continent and middle power in the international affairs and has also be identified as emerging global power. These value attributes have made Nigeria the envy of other African countries. An average African wants to be a Nigerian. They think any blessed black African is a Nigerian; unfortunately, we Nigerians do not know this. There is no where you go in the world that you not see a Nigerian. And here we are, trying to divide the country into banana republics because of the selfish and self-serving gains of some elites.
They use tribal and religious sentiments to advance their cause and ambition. The time is nigh for Nigerian women to step forward and become the cord that will bind our dear nation as one. We, the Nigerian women, must not allow this division to happen.
Those who want separation of this country should read the history of the United States of America, which is made up people from different nations that came together with determination and a spirit of unity and nationalism to make it into a great nation; a land of vast opportunities given to them by God. That is why the United States of America is portrayed as God’s own country. Everyone wants to go to America because it has been developed and Americans welcome those who have potentials to contribute to their greatness.
Remember that a large part of the United States of America was once under British rule as Nigeria was. The war of independence was fought and won because of one slogan unity and strengthen. The love of their country and unity made the Americans fought, won the war and finally got independence from Britain. Today the United States of America is the world’s power, which Britain, their former colonial rulers look up to.
Nigerians have to wake up; we can make it, if only we can develop love for our nation. If you want to be a political leader or an entrepreneurial giant like Dangote, you can make it. All you need to do is to work hard. The country is large enough to contain everybody with their diverse aspirations.
Here in Nigeria, God has given all that it takes to develop and become a great nation. The nation has both human and natural resources. In the North region, grain and livestock are produced that southern states of the country depend on. In the Middle Belt, yams and major fruits are produced and are transported throughout the year to all parts of country. The southern region is blessed with tree crops such as cocoa and palm, these produce are sent to the northern part of the country.
This means that each part of the country depends on another to function properly, especially in food production and commerce. If the country is divided as some people wish, it will not be easy to get these agricultural produce across different borderline, as each country will have its sovereign entity. In Nigeria we have liberty to live and do business in any part of the country without hindrance. Many people from the northern part of the country have settled in the southern part for so many generations and are fully established there. This case is even more common of the Nigerians from the south-eastern region that have established livelihood in every other nook and cranny of the nation, out of their region. Unity, peace and love are what Nigerians need in order to live together and build a greater nation.
The language of love cut across all segments of the society being it religion, tribe and what have you. Whoever you are, whatever you are, where ever you are; love unites all of us. Nigerian women can make their contribution to unity, peace and oneness of the nation by sowing the seeds of love. Women should preach and practice love starting from their families. It will permeate to the communities, organizations, institutions and the country at large.
The love of one’s children, spouses and neighbours will help us to love one another and eventually it will extend to our beloved country. We should learn to use the language of love (such as ‘dear’, ‘love’ ‘honey’) in our families even in the market place, just like the British use such terms in their country to facilitate peace. Once there is love in the society, violence will reduce gradually. It is lack of love of one another that breeds violence. Love and violence don’t go together; each is parallel to the other and they can never meet or coexist.
The people that are agitating for the separation of Nigeria are telling us that they can do this without violence; how can this happen? It is a tall tale. Will you be able to make somebody leave where he getting his daily bread to move to another place when he does not believe the idea of separation, without violence? The doctrine of separation of the country is not bought by the majority of Nigerians, only a few disgruntled elements are calling for separation.
They condemn one another; they say the marriage is not working, that is shouldn’t have even happened in the first place. They assert that the Republic is not working; all these tantrums will not solve the problem of Nigeria. We should learn to forgive each other and stop condemnation of one another. The idea of restructure of Nigeria suggested by some people is a good one. We can still come together in another conference or get some people to look at the recommendations of the last National Conference and work out an appropriate the way the country should be.
The restructuring of the federation should take in consideration the interest of all part of country; the zoning system of the leadership in the presidency, in the Senate, House of Representative, even at the local government level should be a priority. Another look into the example of the United States of America, shows that when the leaders and founding fathers converged in 1787, they developed a constitution, which reflected the expectation of the people and thus welded this community of nations into one solid political unit.
When all Nigerians are made to feel involved in the development of policies and laws that guide their daily lives, the country will grow in strengthen, unity and peace. Then we will see democracy flourishing in our society. Nigerians are smart people, a creative force and dynamic source of innovations. We can find the way out of the present predicament, develop mutual understanding and forge ahead as one Nigeria. This is not going to be hard, as all we need is the love of one another. We must forget and put aside the tribal and religious sentiments and have one love of Nigeria at heart. Once the love of our dear country-Nigeria is fully inculcated and entrenched in the hearts of every Nigerian, the process to build a great nation will be very easy.
Nigerian women, as I earlier stated, can help this situation. Our women should not just fold their arms and watch the men to destroy this country. We cannot afford another war. We cannot watch our children, brothers, sisters, husbands and even our neighbours being killed. One day of war cannot bring back hundred years of peace. Stand up Nigerians women, and begin to preach love in homes, in the market place, on the streets, in your organizations- Christian women organizations or Muslim women organizations and tribal women organizations.
Once we start the songs of love, men will calm down and reason with us and see the need to have one peaceful, united Nigeria. Nigeria is a unique country: different tribes, different languages, different cultures but one country which must stand on love. We must know that in our diversity so lies our unity. Our diversity is the best opportunity for growth and development. We have to love our beloved country given to us by God and our women are the ones to initiate and sustain this process of sowing seeds of love and unity in the nation.
Long live Nigerian women! Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
*Dr. Mrs. Mary Agbo, a Senior lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, Federal University, Dutsin-ma, Katsina State.