Calls for new nationalistic movement to rebuild citizens’ trust
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
As Nigeria’s stability is being tested by various challenges occasioned by worrisome issues indicating different results, a think-tank group, African Polling Institute, API, yesterday, assesst that the state of the nation, said Nigeria needs strong social cohesion than ever.
This assertion was made by the Executive Director, API, Prof Bell Ihua, while speaking with journalists on how to boost Nigeria’s unity amid separatists’ agitations across the country.
Ihua who also is a Professor of Practice in Opinion Research at Ecocity University Enugu, pointed out that a research the API conducted showed that Nigeria has not in history has been as divided as it is today, and in 2019, it found that 45 per cent of Nigerians said the country was divided as at that time, compared to four years ago, but in 2021 study, 65 per cent of Nigerians said the country is divided compared to four years ago.
The African Poly Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan, independent public opinion polling think tank, which conducts pubic opinion polls, surveys, social interest and social research and evaluation studies at the intersection of democracy, governance, economic convictions, markets and public life in general.
He said: “In 2019, we had sort of an internal meeting, where we sat down to say what are the issues facing Nigeria today, and how can we contribute to the conversation. And when we looked at all of that we saw ethnic tensions. Then even all these separatism was not as it is today and we just had to look through what we could do.
“When we did our own analysis and environmental scan, we said this area of Social cohesion will be one area to study, and we decided to conduct a study on Nigeria’s social cohesion.
“So our first study was released in 2019 and which we received useful attention, so it was our flagship study. We travelled across the country, and I was in Kano, Enugu, Lagos, Gombe, Port Harcourt, disseminating the findings of the study.
“We need a new movement that needs to be stimulated by government and marketed to citizens so that every Nigerian will have a sense of belonging.
“We trust our state institutions and we believe that the institutions have us at the back of their heart. We need citizens who are in that ilk who can come out and say we will continue to speak, act and do things to promote the unity of this country.
“But then while citizens are doing that, government in itself, in action, in body language, in every way should be shown and seen to promote unity, cohesion, issue policies that promote cohesion, and give appointments that promote cohesion.”
However, the don said the Nigerian media need not to be polarized, “Also the media has a huge role to play, the reportage in terms of promoting cohesion and showing that Nigeria can be better, we need leadership that inspires hope, hope is the capital, if you have hope even though you are down, you know that tomorrow can be better.
“And there is something the average Nigerian has, he is intrinsically hopeful, we could see from our study for example that most Nigerians feel that the country will be better in the future. But the question is how will the country be better? We all need to rise up, put our hands to the plow know that we can wait for anyone anywhere to come and rescue this country, we have to.
He also called on politicians to play their role in sustaining the unity of Nigeria, which he pointed out that politicians during election use religion or ethnicity to fan the embers of violence and division since 1999 and that has gradually deepened, to show some sort of polarisation in the country.
“But what the data does is not just to tell us green stories about the country, but it helps us to provide evidence for which policy makers can then sit down and say let’s come down to the drawing board”, he added.