The ambition to unite Nigeria and Nigerians in my opinion is a herculean task if not a mission-impossible.

The factors that divide us are too numerous, deep, run way back, are powerful and perhaps beyond persuading any group to willingly compromise. And the entities that use any or all of these to keep dividing us are quite radical, better informed, brilliant, calculating and wealthy.

What I think we need more is a progressive Nigeria. And this can only occur if and when the leaders of tribes and ethnic entities love their own people enough to provide and permit basic socioeconomic advantages for true progress and prosperity. 

I suggest tribal, ethnic and state government leaders in Nigeria can, and should focus more on helping and empowering their own people – their own tribe, their own ethnic group; their own kith and kin; instead of manipulating, using and instigating them to hate, fight and pull down other ethnic or tribal groups.

Ethnic, tribal, and state leaders should begin to love their own people enough to create and allow for them basic amenities, secure and safer living and business environments, needed training and exposure, and superior learning and growth opportunities.

When community leaders, after withholding from their own people statutory funding and entitlements from the government, also hinder and discourage private investors, NGOs, and individuals who want to help develop the community by demanding “settlements” and bribes from them, we begin to see the real problems.

When these community leaders insist interested private investors and NGOs should instead, give them the planned project funds, rather than directly help fix roads, build health care centre, or install a transformer for example, we begin to see the real problems.

When community “area fathers” are behind the youth who attack project workers and destroy equipment and vehicles of willing investors in their communities because they have not “settled” them enough, and the community leaders look the other away, we begin to see the real problems.

When statutory allocations for development from the federal government end up in the private pockets of powerful community leaders, and they keep deceiving their ignorant people that Abuja is to blame for their poverty and deprivation, we begin to see the real problems.

I would like to appeal to Nigerian ethnic and tribal leaders to become more loving, responsible and accountable to their own people. I suggest they search their consciences and choose to become more honest, sensitive and fair to their own people. Ethnic and tribal leaders can actually motivate and encourage their own people on to greater patriotism and participation by being just, fair, accountable and transparent; as doing these would inspire and challenge their people to work harder, be more passionate, and become more creative and ingenious to develop their communities.

Tribal and ethnic leaders, through accountable leadership, can and should inspire their own people to become more collaborative, committed and enthusiastic about their own community development, growth and progress.

Instead of promoting hate, blame and disdain for other tribes and groups, they should redirect the energy towards honest, responsible and transparent leadership that can improve their own people and places.

Instead of pointing fingers at other tribes and groups for the consequences of their own inept leadership, greed and lack of foresight, they should, for once, take responsibility for their own kith and kin. They should stop “using” and abusing their own people; they should start loving their own people genuinely.

The greatest pain and discomfort everyday Nigerians face today do not have their origins at the Federal Capital Territory, but the immediate locations where these people live, work and interact daily with neighbours, friends, associates, employers, employees, colleagues, public agents and fellow residents. Many Nigerians today, in reaction to their lack, fears, anxiety, insecurity, distrust and pains have become quite cruel, unloving and contemptuous towards their fellows. This, unfortunately has brought about great stress and intense hardship in and amongst the people.

In my opinion, the primary challenge with direct daily impact on the people is the immediate environment challenge.

In every organisation, healthy competition is a needed catalyst for invention, innovation, creativity and rapid development amongst competitors and rivals. Hence, if each and every tribe, ethnic group, and/or state in Nigeria will work hard to outperform one another in internally generated revenue, public employee welfare, education, healthcare, infrastructure, security and conducive business environment, Nigeria in whole will consequently develop!

A state owned school for instance, should compete effectively with private schools in the same state. This achievement can embarrass the federal government and they will subsequently be compelled to do something about their own schools in the same location.

Even a good head means nothing if the whole body is sick, diseased or paralysed. No Nigerian leader in Abuja can succeed if most of the tribal, ethnic and community leaders, in their smaller corners of influence keep rejecting, opposing and fighting what is obviously right and good for their own people for selfish reasons.

From a different stand point, I submit we should deemphasise the whole advocacy on “uniting Nigeria”, instead, let sub-leaders of tribes, ethnic groups, clans, and even families start LOVING THEIR OWN PEOPLE enough to push and instigate healthy and legit competition within Nigeria, and amongst Nigerians.

Nigerians love to compete, hence our passion for football. Can we then, simply make this a strength?

Hate, blame, offence, vile opposition, desperation and intolerance of others cannot move Nigeria forward. Let’s stop working so hard at criticising, in the effort to eliminate our long existing and powerful differences. Instead, let us learn to accept and respect the harmless differences, and then choose positive rivalry and objectivity to achieve progress despite these differences.

Happy 59th Independence celebration Nigeria.

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