Many people talk about the problems militating against Nigeria’s progress and in doing so they list out corruption, a bad economy, terrorism or crime. In my opinion, Nigeria’s biggest problem is not corruption, a bad economy, terrorism or crime. These are just symptoms of the problem we face in Nigeria. Nigeria’s biggest problem is that we are not united. Fix that and you fix Nigeria! Today, instead of solving this problem, we have chosen rather to continue the problem by poisoning our youth with Nigeria’s biggest problem of disunity. Right before our eyes, our youths are using social media for disunity, fighting each other on basis of party, religion and tribe. For instance, I was appalled when a youth tweeted a picture of another youth who had added him to a Twitter list called ‘political enemies’. Can you believe it? Nigeria’s biggest problem is the reason it was easy so for the colonialists to colonise our ancestors. We are never united. Think back to history.
The British did not send a lot of troops to the Niger area. What they did was send enough troops to guard their commercial interests and then those troops under the command of their officers recruited a local constabulary which formed the bulk of the forces that enforced the will of the colonialists. They were used to pacify communities that resisted British rule and yet these were natives of the territory that would come to be known as Nigeria. A classic divide and rule strategy. Fast forward a hundred and twenty years and not much has changed. It is the same old same old. The crab mentality where we pull each other down is still being perpetuated. Our youths are on social media calling each other IPOB, aboki and wailers. All that youthful energy that should have been put into productive ventures and enterprises is wasted on hating each other. We take such delight in using our considerable intelligence to pull each down and have none left to pull Nigeria up. Someone brings good ideas but we do not consider the idea. Rather we fight the person because he is All Progressives Congress (APC)/Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)/North/South/Christian/Muslim.
Many brilliant Nigerians had their idea rejected because of where they came from only to go abroad to be successes. This is the case with Chinedu Ocheruo and many other Nigerians who are now celebrated abroad. To progress as a nation, we must change. The word ‘United’ in the names of the United States of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is what made and keeps making those nations great. They are not smarter than us. They are just more united. Look at Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Imagine where Nigeria would have been if we forgot where that great sage came from and coalesced around his ideas for developing Nigeria. It is because of disunity that Awolowo was the “best president we never had”.
Everyone knew he was the best but he was rejected because we were and are too focused on artificial divisions like tribe and creed. Today the economy is tanking, but instead of that to be our focus, we prefer to fight while Nigeria burns.
If you say the truth about our economy, you are attacked as an enemy of the present administration as if the naira or the dollar respects your party or your tribe. This is what they did in Zimbabwe. Where is their economy today? Do we want Nigeria to go that route?Nigeria’s biggest problem is disunity and I call on President Muhammadu Buhari, the 36 state governors, and all ex-presidents to put aside their differences and help build unity through their comments and their actions.
Leaders must stop calling each other derogatory names like wailers, dullards, zombies etc. Leaders must focus on leading and not on blaming previous leaders for the situation in which they find themselves. Leaders ought to refrain from making blanket statements that generalise a whole tribe or ethnic nationality. But most importantly, leaders must believe in their people especially on the international stage and must use every podium made available to them to sell Nigerians and Nigeria to the world. If Nigerians see their leaders uniting irrespective of tribe, religion and party, they will follow suit.
Recently, the Ese Oruru saga came to public notice and while it would have been an easy narrative to generalise and blame the kith and kin of Yinusa ‘Yellow’, it would also have made for a false narrative. That is why I tweeted in the heat of the saga (February 29th) as follows “Our anger should be directed at the abductor and any negligence on the part of the police and not on a tribe or religion”. I kept on hammering this message on and off social media because I know that there are only two types of Nigerians. There are good Nigerians and there are bad Nigerians. Every other division is artificial.
The only identity God gives us when we are born in Nigeria is Nigerian. All other identities come after that. In conclusion, let us learn to be blind to party, ethnicity and religion when issues of Nigeria’s development are concerned, otherwise we will never progress, instead we will retrogress. If we do not learn this, it will be a case of I and my state against Nigeria, I and my tribe against my state, I and my village against my tribe and I and my family against my village and finally, I against my brother.
My name is Ben Murray-Bruce and I just want to make Commonsense!
Murray-Bruce is the senator representing Bayelsa East and chairman of the Silverbird Entertainment Group