The Racism Hypocrisy

Wednesday, September 21, 2022, the International Day of Peace, came and went quietly, with the world largely distracted by the Ukraine war, the aftermath of Queen Elizabeth II’s elaborate funeral rites and troubled economies around the world.

The United Nations dedicates this day to the promotion of the ideals of peace. One of its rituals is the call for the laying down of arms in conflicts around the world for 24 hours. But beyond that, attention is called to the need to abhor factors that promote conflicts, especially discrimination, aggression, inequality and lack of inclusion. This is why this year’s theme: “End racism. Build peace”, is so germane.

The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, in his message, observed as follows:

“Racism continues to poison institutions, social structures and everyday life in every society. It continues to be a driver of persistent inequality. It also continues to deny people their fundamental rights. It destabilises societies, undermines democracies, erodes the legitimacy of government, and…the linkages between racism and gender inequality are unmistakable”.

Here in Nigeria, the main drivers of conflicts and instability are ethno-religious intolerance and regional-based discrimination. In our 62 years of independence, we have failed to come to terms with our diversity and devise means of harnessing it for the development of our country.

We still cling strongly to our primordial roots though we volubly pay lip service to “One Nigeria”. Ethnicity and sectionalism are drivers of domination and marginalisation which fuel conflicts.

Nigeria has fought a civil war, survived a presidential election annulment that nearly pushed us into another war, and has coped with many militancies and rebellions, especially in the Niger Delta and the North. Today, we are bleeding from all pores due to jihadist terrorism, banditry, herdsmen terrorism and the scourge of “unknown gunmen”.

One of the issues that have created tension in the country is that the commanding sectors of our military, security, economic and bureaucratic systems are concentrated in the hands of a particular ethno-religious and regional group. In so doing, many Nigerian groups feel left out. Consequently, all hands are not on deck to build a nation where everyone will call home.

Nigerian leaders are so focused on giving over the nation’s commonwealth to their ethnic group that they ignore the dangers to the survival of the country that such measures bring. We are unwilling to learn from our mistakes. Rather, for self-interest, we repeat them over and again.

The 2023 general elections provide the Nigerian electorate with the opportunity of choosing the right leaders who will dismantle sectional domination and create an equitable system that will accommodate all groups. That is the only way the conflicts in our body politic will reduce for Nigeria to move forward.

To embrace peace, we must eschew ethnic discrimination.

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