By Sunny Ikhioya
MAN is the problem of mankind. People have lived together as husbands and wives, with immediate families and from their extended families. But greed set in, and man was no longer contented with what he had. Fight ensued, followed by killings and ever since there has been no peace.
Wars have been fought, nations have been destroyed for causes that are purely selfish. It is in the course of finding solutions to these problems that good men, from different nations, came together under the guise of the League of Nations which later metamorphosed into the United Nations that we have today.
While the developed nations are working hard at achieving peace in their lands, the developing nations, especially in Africa are working hard at self destruction. In the Middle East, Africa and part of Asia, human lives have become worthless.
Again, while the advanced and civilised nations are de-emphasizing religion in their day-to-day activities – seeing it as personal thing – others are trying hard to make religion and ethnicity their trade mark, and that is where our present troubles lie.
There is no way we can colour it. The biggest challenge that Nigeria faces as a nation is ethnicity and religion; only a negligible percentage of Nigerians can operate freely of sentiments.
You cannot say that politics is the cause because our politics is embedded in ethnic and religious sentiments to achieve specific purposes. If our leadership has been sincere they would have realised that the main problem facing the nation remains the twin challenge of religion and ethnicity.
The civil service, which is the engine room of government, must be focused as a bureaucracy, structured without bias and operate as an institution to service the overall good.
You can never operate an effective civil service with bias and sentiments. Maybe, that is why Nigeria is finding it very difficult to deal with the anti- corruption war. The beginning and the end of corruption in Nigeria is the civil service, which translates into government.
The civil service is government because it is the structure of government and when the structure is defective, what good can come out of it. This country has been polarised badly along ethnic and religious lines.
If politicians are taking advantage of it to feather their nests, it is because that is the reality of the situation which we must all come to terms with if we want solution to our problems.
The question that calls for answer is: why should the North Central zone now become a theatre of destruction of innocent lives? Have we forgotten so soon how gallant officers from that zone, alongside their counterparts in the core North and the South, fought to ensure that Nigeria remained as one country, under the leadership of General Yakubu Gowon. They will be wondering why their fellow brothers and neighbours in the North are doing this to them. Yet people are saying that it is politics. Saying it is politics trivialises the issue.
It is said that a problem identified is a problem half solved. If we all see religion and ethnicity as the bane of this nation, what should we do then to change the situation? All the solutions that we have been proffering represent journeys into escapism.
For example, the indigene-settler imbroglio that has been at the heart of so many wars in the country, including the herdsmen, is anchored on ethnicity.
Promulgate a law that will deal with the indigenes-settler issues and put in place executive mechanisms to effect it and the problem will be solved, simple. A Nigerian cannot be a stranger in his own country. Some Nigerians who travelled out of the country have become citizens of other nations, enjoying all of the privileges of citizenship, without discrimination. Why can’t same be applied in Nigeria? Why can’t an Hausa man in the city of Aba be accepted as a fellow citizen and enjoy the benefit of becoming a governor in Abia State?
In the same way the Hausas should accept to integrate other Nigerians living with them. This integration and mix should also apply in other parts of the country. Why must a foreigner find it easier to get employment in some parts of our country than citizens of this nation? Why is it difficult for one to do business freely in any part of Nigeria of his choice? Why is relationship between the North and the South often undermined by suspicion?
Why has it become difficult for us to secure our borders from unwanted immigrants? Why have we failed to fight the Boko Haram war to a successful conclusion?
Why are some areas developing faster than others? Why are some given preferential treatment over others? Why is our security architecture skewed towards a particular direction?
If you want to know, the answer to the above questions is embedded in our ethnic and religious biases, and going in this direction will not help the stability of this nation. It will not help the future because it is unjust and we all know that a foundation of injustice will never stand.
It is like a faulty building foundation without the required solid blocks in depth and width; it will only take a little time before it collapses under the slightest pressure from rain or wind.
We have to act fast now to correct the defective structures in our system in order to ensure our survival and that of our future generations.
Do we have the leadership to make this possible in Nigeria today? I do not think so. But nothing is impossible.