Nigeria coexist in disintegration as if it is option whereas not! So has the country been misery coexisting from the beginning and wandering for so long too long. This tension is not new and was there from the formation of the country. That was why the country operated in regions with interest at independence. Governance was structured on regions to avoid tribal clashes. Yet there was unity in that diversity.
From immemorial, human beings are designed to live together and not in isolation. In this stance, consciousness of kind leads to community living together as one. If I am not wrong, human beings lives in communities and develop such community into small world guided by the rules of law. To me, the word “community” is not different from “tribe” as I shall try to convey.
Reading through oxford dictionary, "tribe" is described as a group of people of the same race, customs, language, religion etc living together in a particular area, and often led by a chief (particularly in developing countries).
Tribalism to me is behavior, attitude etc that are based on being loyal to a tribe or identified specific social group. Tribe and tribalism in Nigeria has influenced our behavior, attitude including the way we think and reason, and things we do every day. I will not blame nor start blaming myself if I am loyal to my region. But I will regret it if I am disloyal to my country - Nigeria.
Tribalism though not evil is a great strength of any nation or country made of diverse linguistic groups uniquely with valuable cultural features to offer interchangeably on the national table. When you speak Yoruba, Ibibio, Hausa, Gwari, Ibo, Idoma etc make no mistake about it. It is the same as when someone speaks English, German, Spanish, and French etc. The only difference is that the English, German etc speaking people, addressees themselves as “Nationals” of their countries, while we speak ours and accept to be addressed as “Natives or Tribes” in Nigeria.
My uttermost crux is to see how we can pragmatically bridge our unity were we see ourselves as nationals than tribes. That is just one point to score. A situation where each tribe will compliment another’ weakness recognizing that we are of one race. Surely, our ancestors had survived the struggle for co-existing in what is now geographically identified as Nigeria. It is no doubt saying that we were and are racially homogeneous of Negroid race, on the account of our skin color, facial angle, hair texture etc if I don’t miss the point.
However, it is factual that there are individual indigence of Nigeria that speaks common language and share common cultures, while many speaks common language and share different cultures. Others speaks different language and share common cultures. These were just reasons the colonial masters marked us out geographically as one people of peculiar similarity; which to my mind is the real meaning of Nigeria.
I have so far researched all the tribes in Nigeria and realize that there is always one thing that we share in common and are interwoven. Above all, is that we are different tribes of one race. And it makes me to ponder why we fight at times.
But like a seaman, who has drifted from salt to fresh waters, without knowing it, is to cast down our bucket where we are and draw fresh water to assuage our thirst. Yes, we must dig deep from our roots to discover the secret for our successful co existence. Long time ago, I read that Professor Eyo Ita during the 1949 constitution workings at Ibadan, cautioned and I would like to quote, “unity is certainly our best policy, but we must seek quite sincerely to secure genuine and durable unity". He went on to say "I am sure inequality of status and inequality of opportunity will not secure it to us”. So I am wondering how genuine is our unity as at today.
In the same vein, Honorable S.O Awokoya added in concurrence to Prof Eyo Ita and I quote “Any regional autonomy we may desire must be such as is compatible with overall Nigeria interest”. And today, people are talking on restructuring Nigeria. Whereas the above quotation were uttered 65 years ago when there were doubts about Nigeria living together as a nation. And at a time when effort were made to sow seeds of dissension among various nationalities. Nigeria I know will survive.
It is true that tribalism will continue to thrive until we are able to transfer allegiance from it into our nation completely; though it will take more generation to turn the tick. For now, if we can begin to strip our political parties of the paraphernalia of tribalism and regionalism politics to national, then we will begin producing national leaderships that will be acceptable to all irrespective of tribe or region for national unity. It is my view that everybody needs somebody, for without an individual, there can be no community, without community there will be no tribe, and without tribes there will be no nations. It takes individuals to form a community. It takes community to form a tribe; it takes a tribe to form a nation.
We must begin to see ourselves as Nigerian Nationals and not tribes. We must recognize our differences and build on our unity in diversity. That way Nigeria shall rise again.