- Category: Adekunle Adeola Sijibomi
- Published on Thursday, 29 December 2011 13:31
- Written by Adekunle Adeola Sijibomi
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For the purpose of clarity and distinction of thought, the blueprint as meant here should not be confused for a mere draft or proposal. It is an outlined plan, drawn on a step by step design of how a particular aspect or sector of our life as a nation can be salvaged and brought back to the fore. After all the drawing exercise, these prints will then be fused together to form one main blueprint. However for anyone purporting to embark on the artistic work of this drawing, certain conditions must serve as a canvass upon which the drawing is based.
Take for example, the creation of states from the erstwhile regions of the country. When it existed altogether as Western Region, the area of southwest Nigeria had a tremendous achievement in the line of infrastructure, education and other basic functions of the government. Now the region has been cleaved into six states “to make developments rapid and well spread”, yet none of the governors of any of the states, since inception, has performed well to reach – not even surpass – the achievements of the then regional government when one man governed the whole region. Thus, division along ethnic lines is not the answer. Our problem is not our ethnic-diversity; it is that we have built a virtual Berlin wall in our minds and hearts. We do not see beyond our ethnocentric life. Do not get me wrong. There is nothing bad in hoisting our cultural flag but not in such manner as to the extent of resenting others.
The second important canvas is that a Nigerian blueprint will be drawn without any religious bias or ‘spiritual-ness’ put into it. In other words, as we shed our ethnocentric coat, we should try our best to do away with the religious coat. I am no law or principality in theology or Islamic studies, but it should be said that all religions preach love and believe in GOD (your creator). Where the belief of the other person lies shouldn’t be a problem when you coexist in the same place and you both share the responsibility of moving the place forward.
These two points, religion and ethnicity, was what the colonial masters used in keeping us under their rule. They knew back then that a united colony in all ramifications posed a threat to the stay of their power on us. So they applied the divide and rule tactic. This time, the divide was not in the geographical sense rather it was in the intellectual sense. When we fail to see ourselves as brothers and sisters, there is no way we would ever unite to be able to fight them off. This tactic kept them in the shores of our country for a century until it happened that the fore fathers decided to do away with the divide in their minds to fight for independence. Many thought the attainment of independence was the victory over the Whiteman’s domination. It is not. What our independence stood for was the pulling down of the virtual Berlin wall created in our minds by the colonial masters. We conquered their tactic of dividing us by uniting.
The slave masters (our own indigenous power mongers) saw that nothing will help line their pockets than using this gruesome tactics, so they inherited it and used it over us. This time, it was more difficult to fight against since it does not have color added on to it. So we continued to be intellectual slaves to people who know no boundary in sucking us dry for our natural resources. That is why they use religion and ethnicity as the two sides of the coin they toss to send us in disarray. As another person put it “now that we have our freedom, we throw away our wisdom…in the name of politics and religion”. We kill ourselves in the name of ethnicity and religion to the benefit of the vultures, waiting to eat of our carcass when we are done tearing one another out. It works well for them.
As I noted in the first part of this work, intellectual revolution must come before any form of physical revolution can be attempted. The shedding of our ethno-religious coats is the first major step towards achieving an intellectual revolution. By doing this we are pulling the fog away from our horizon so we could be able to see farther ahead. This must have sounded impossible. Another way to understand it is to evoke that spirit that takes hold of all of us whenever the Super Eagles are heading to a competition. That is the time, the only time, when Nigerians stick together to have a single voice as a nation. We forget about any ethnic or religious divide, we just want to see our team win, and when they do a Muslim will shout in joy to hug a Christian or an Egungun worshipper. That is the only time when a Hausa man will hold a Yoruba man’s hand to celebrate. And when it goes the other way too, we get united in the pain of seeing them lose.
To evoke this spirit in our daily lives without watching soccer, we need to re-examine certain values and principles with which we guide our life. Check your immediate environments, how many friends do you have who are not of the same tribe or religion as you? As a southerner, how many Northerner friends do you have? And as a Christian, how many Muslim friends do you have? Even on social networking online websites, such as Facebook, where it is free to stay connected with other people, it is rare to see Nigerians connected across the ethnic boundary. Someone with as much as 300 friends on Facebook has an average of 289 friends from their ethnic or tribal group. The remaining 11 are foreigners. We can make our head start from here. The first step to achieving a Nigerian mind will be to start making friends with other tribes and ethnic groups. Each Nigerian must have at least a Fulani friend, an Isoko friend, Urhobo, Nembe, Pyeri, Tiv, Idoma, Jukun, Ijebu and so on. In other words, we should endeavor to keep friends whose language and ethnicity are different; we can use Facebook to achieve this.
The second step is trying to learn the ways and beliefs of other ethnic groups to be able to understand them. The late Chief Bola Ige was an expert at this he could speak the 3 major languages fluently. Even if we do not wish to be multi-linguist, it is very necessary that we should be able to understand one another. To do this, we need to create a culture of learning something new about each of our ethnic groups on a daily basis. Then we should welcome them into our midst as a way of showing our acceptance of their beliefs in a coexistence level. It is time to debunk the trivial stories spread to us by agents of dissension. If one needs to learn anything about the various ethnic and tribal relationships and associations as it happened in the past then one should check them at the National Museums located in all the 36 state capitals. When you get to discover certain documents reveal most of the stories you have heard as phony, then you’d see that we have been misled into hating one another.
When we have achieved a greater level of integration then we will be able to access the characteristics, resources and endowments of each tribe. No greater country in the world has achieved any feat without the integration of the people occupying it. In America, there are Latinos, Blacks, Irish, Italians, Hispanics, Jews and other tribes such as Indians. They live together in unity that is why an Austrian could be the governor of California and a Luo the President of the United States. This is the paint with which we draw our blueprint, our National Unity.
We will use the strength of one to pay for the weakness of the other while harnessing the very best of our potentials. In other words, this will be a great step towards getting ahead to plan with what we have and use it to get to our desired place. It should also be noted that our blueprint must be made with the hope of having to collaborate with any external source other than the ones we have in the present day Nigeria. No foreigner will help us unless it coincides with their interest. One foreign statesman rightfully noted “we don’t have permanent friends, only permanent interest”. It will be of great value for us to take a cue that when they are trying to help, it is only because it is the same with their interest. After such a milestone achievement in the area of intellectual revolution, then we will freely move forward towards a more realizable physical revolution.
Other necessary condition required is a time frame. All drawers of the blueprint must give a time limit we have to execute such plans. Take for example, making Nigeria to be Corruption-free in the next 15 years. A plan to achieve such goal should be drawn with short time policies, programmes that will later merge into the over-arching goal. In other words, our longtime plans must contain short-time processes that we will do to get the goal on the scoreboard. The clarity, simplicity and accessibility of such plans should also be of importance.
This article was written on 29.11.11
Adekunle Adeola Sijibomi Writes!