By Mabel Oboh
Tribalism should neither define a nation nor its people. So why is tribalism a serious issue in Nigeria, which unfortunately is creating a huge threat to our nation’s growth?
It’s a subject that is eating deep against the desired unity of our country. Most would agree that if not addressed strategically, tribalism will continue to be used by some political juggernauts as a breeding ground for further divisions, contentions and hatred.
It may be argued that to continue to manipulate the mindsets of the electorate, these perpetrators take advantage of the set stereotypical ways the unenlightened tribes negatively perceive others. They know fully well that these setbacks in reasoning prevent them from broadening their mind, learning more about other cultures and befriending people who do not belong to their tribe, mostly in the rural areas. Arguably these characteristics can also be seen within governmental agencies.
Although some tribal societies in Nigeria have been pushed to the edges of globalisation in contemporary times due to exposure to the internet, education, western influences, etc, especially within the urban areas, tribalism is far from being undiminished. This is so because not only is it founded upon intense feelings of common identity that leads people to feel tribally connected, the lack of creating constant national awareness by the government, against the negative impact of tribalism as one Nigeria is not helping matters.
Moreover, it may seem that addressing the problem positively may be impossible for now due to the exploitation of our natural divide by crafty politicians, especially during election periods.
So, it may not be wrong to conclude that our present so-called democratic system has taken us back to the first republic where tribalism was then the order of the day.
Apart from various ethnic groups, whether Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa, Nigeria is home to over 370 tribes, who have tolerated one another despite our differences and without warring until recent insecurity issues in various states. So, it is obvious that the viable solution to tribalism lies in good governance and regional cooperation.
Political parties should also make themselves accountable and produce mandatory programmes for creating positive awareness, prompting appreciation and acceptance of our cultural differences and much more.
Our diversity and inclusion will be easy to market with a simple ‘warm handshake’ that works as a sign of friendship towards achieving an all-inclusive nation.
Notably, the makeup of a political party is good enough to determine if the party is in support of an all-inclusive nation. As a people, we also have civic responsibilities. We have the right not to be a member of a political party or in support of a particular government if all its mantras are pointing toward a divided Nigeria.
Nigeria, like much of some parts of the world, is a conglomerate of nations not tribes. Why then do we allow the ruling elite in this country to continue to subscribe to the contortion of ‘tribe’?
Oboh is ADC National Diversity and Inclusion Secretary.