The first step for Nigeria to really succeed in the 21st century is to put an end to tribalism and unite. No country can truly progress if the people are suspicious of each other based on tired stereotypes and historical resentment.
There is NO point in being tribalist in this day and age. Maybe there were historical reasons for xenophobia, but nowadays none of the problems in Nigeria exist because of one particular ethnic group. Nigerian political parties are made up of governors and presidents from all the main ethnic groups and only a handful have had benevolent intentions for the country.
To understand why such a diverse group of people are part of one country, we have to look at the history. Nigeria as we know it, is relatively new and it was the British who drew the borders of the country during their colonial rule in the early 20th century. When they created Nigeria, they threw many different ethnic groups together – each with their own culture, languages and beliefs.
Since then Nigeria inter-ethnic relations have been turbulent to say the least, with civil war and power struggles between ethnic groups causing violence and frustration among the people. Stereotypes about different tribes persist and are handed down through generations. I’ve been warned by some relatives to not marry outside my ethnic group. I’ve heard negative generalisations about the Yoruba, Igbo people and the Hausas.
This has to stop.
The real enemy in Nigeria is the (often corrupt) elite. We know that there is an inexcusable divide between the wealthy and poor, with not much of a grey area in between. The infrastructure is limping along, but should be in a much better state for a country with so much potential. The services are all but non-existent. This isn’t the fault of your Igbo neighbour or those Hausas – it’s the fault of the people who feel that they can rob the country and get away with it.
I would say that tribalism should be treated as gravely as racism. But of course that would be naive to expect that just yet, in a country like Nigeria. What we can do, however, is to stop spreading lies and venom about fellow countrymen based on their ethnicity. We need to remember that we are all human, and all have the same wants and needs.
This is important because tribalism is the reason why we have the zoning system in place, which many would argue is ineffective at producing the best leaders for Nigeria. Tribalism is at the very core of the country’s politics and it will be a hinderance as long as it is allowed to continue.
It’s time for Nigeria to become a nation and have a shared Nigerian culture.