By Chioma Gabriel
If you are from the southeast, by now you would have known the genuine opinion of the others about you as a person and as a people and you would have known those who would be saboteurs in the event of crisis. But thank God there would not be an occasion for crisis in Nigeria.
Haven known who we are to each other, time calls for us to move ahead. How do we make Nigeria a country befitting for all so that no one feels left out in the scheme of things.
The secessionists have been cowed but the fact remains that there are issues about the agitations that need to be tackled holistically. There are issues that cannot be ignored or wished away. You cannot throw away the baby and the birth water. Those who think that IPOB is the problem with Nigeria and proscribing it has settled the issue of all agitations are not real.
What perhaps we have now is peace of the graveyard because there might be people or groups who have similar things up their sleeves but are not yet talking.
Apart from the southeast, there are many other ethnic nationalities that need a sense of belonging. We worry about the Igbo because of their large number but I doubt if the Yoruba or the Hausa/ Fulani will tolerate what they expect the Igbo to tolerate under similar circumstances.
The leaders of the southeast have also been cowed and have worsened the situation by their porous and selfish approach to the agitations. The leaders speak from the two sides of their mouth. They say one thing in one place and another thing in another place.
What goes around comes around and unless Nigerians sit down and talk, the problems will remain.
Nigeria has never been the same since the discovery of oil in the 1970s. The oil boom and the recent oil doom have made things unbearable for the people. We thought we are out of recession but the issues that bedevilled the country before, and during recession are still staring us in the face even after we have reportedly come out of it.
There have been blames and counter blames as to why Nigeria is the way it is today. Failure of leadership, failure of the electoral system, dishonesty of the political class and corruption in high and low places have contributed to where we are today. Anything you call it , we have it with us.
Nigeria has had its good and bad times. Nigerians have built bridges across tribes and have intermarried one another. We have the things that bind us as well as things that divide us.
My two uncles got their wives from the North. USncle Johnson had a business in the north and when he returned home, he brought back Mama Ngozi, an Hausa/ Fulani from Azare in Katsina state as his wife. Mama Ngozi speaks Igbo fluently with Hausa accent and goes to church every Sunday but would pray Muslim prayers at home. She has eight children for my uncle and her first daughter Ngozi would eventually marry a man from her mother’s place in Katsina.
My other uncle married from Ilorin in Kwara state and his wife Mama Ik learnt to speak Igbo fluently.
Now, in any event of a general family meeting, you hear people who speak Igbo, English and Yoruba. Mama Ngozi had children who speak Igbo and Hausa fluently and mama Ik and her children also speak Igbo and Yoruba fluently.
Uncle Johnson also speaks Hausa fluently to the point of risking being called a mallam in the village and Papa Ik speaks both Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba fluently. Travel and exposure have changed their mentality about tribal issues and I can boldly say that my family doesn’t care about being Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba. My teenage daughter who was born in Lagos has Yoruba friends both in school and at home and they nicknamed her Ayomide. She doesn’t even care about a new republic being agitated for although she reads breaking stories about Biafra. Once I raised the issue when her friends Amina, a northerner; Funmilayo and Olumide, Yoruba were visiting and guess what they did? They stared at me and then turned and looked at each other and laughed as in ‘ what is our business about that.’
There are stronger things binding us as Nigerians that ethnicity and religion cannot hinder. We have genuine friendships across tribes and religions. I have been opportuned to build strong relationships cutting across tribes and religions and these friends have helped me more in times of challenges than even my Igbo brethen.
Mama Ngozi has often joked about her dual nationality in the event of Biafra succeeding and she would joke about a visa to Katsina after Biafra.
The fact remains also that young people have been jettisoned as if their opinions don’t count. The decay in the society have affected the youth so much so that they are ready to revolt against constituted authority.
It is bad enough that ours is a society where morons are barons, where thieves are chiefs, where the monkey works and the baboon chops, where might is considered right and injustice, the order of the day. The youths have watched in dismay while the society moves on without them.
These have to be reconsidered. We have to call a spade a spade. Things have to change. We need to rebuild Nigeria so as to stop all agitations.
Nigeria is a beautiful country. Lets forget tribalism and tribal institutions and give peace a chance. We need statesmen who will rebuild Nigeria. We have to douse the misrule of the years by voting aright especially as 2019 approaches. Above all, Nigeria has to be restructured to give every Nigerian a sense of belonging. We have to negotiate how we will live together.
Nigeria is greater than any individual and we should build up on what unites us rather than what divides us.
Soyons justes les uns envers les autres (Lets be fair to each other)