Wanted: change driver, not jingoist

Forget corruption and fraudulence. The most serious political problem in our clime is none of these. It is the proclivity for ethnic jingoism that has dogged the ruling classes for generations and made it impossible for true leaders to emerge.


Think about this. We are very close to an election, just a few months away, and the issues that pervade the political arena are those that take us backwards. The champions of ethnic politics, who grew by it and became something by it, are not willing to cast off that offensive toga that has befuddled our vision, hobbled our collective will and kept us down as a country.

The foundation for this tribal-cum-ethnic irredentism was laid and sustained by the British colonialist who saw the system of divide and rule as a cheap and effective way to administer Nigeria in the colonial era. The Political class that wrenched the reins of power from them at independence did little to foster true nationalism. Now people feel very passionate about issues that relate to their ethnic nationalities far and above national interest. That is why we are where we are as country, with little hope of making real progress if we continue the way we are.

This reporter sincerely believes it is a shame that 50 years after independence this country is yet to outgrow those primordial sentiments that hamstring her growth and development. Instead of laying out agenda of how to govern for the greatest good of the greatest number, the politicians dissipate energy on such issues like which section or ethnic grouping should hold which post.

Until we as a country outgrow the situation where people are voted for because of where they come from and not what they can do; where blood is shed freely because of little ethnic or religious differences; where people are treated as exiles even in their country just because they chose to live outside geographic placing of their ethnic nationalities and all such like, it would be pretty difficult for this country to move forward. 

We need leaders that bind us together and not divide us. Nigerians, especially the youths, should say no to leaders who seek relevance by fanning the embers of ethnic, religious or tribal politics. They belong to the past and be consigned to the past.

What would engage politicians in other climes a few months away to a general election would be setting out measures which they would bring into play when elected. In a country like Nigeria, with numerous economic problems, economic agenda would be a topmost issue. Meanwhile, here we are, with none of the so-called top contenders talking about howhe intends to confront the multifarious economic challenges facing the country. Aside from general statements of promises, none has set out the policies he will pursue to, say, bring down the rate of unemployment, improve public health and boost non-oil sectors of the economy, etal.

Truth is: a good leader can come from anywhere. A good leader brings about quick transformation in the social economic life of the people and generates momentum for activities. It does not matter where he comes from; the changes he brings about affects everybody equally, without minding your colour, creed or persuasions. Barack Obama is President of the United States; he father is a Kenyan and yet the Americans voted him into office. Murtala Muhammed is a northern Muslim, and even across the south he is still remembered as a man that did well within a short spell in office.

When Nigerians learn to stay above those parochial sentiments and dwell on how to get a true leader, who is fired by the desire to make the country truly great – that leader might be Huasa, Ibo, Nupe, Yoruba, Fulani or from anywhere, not minding even whether his tribesman was there before or not – that will be when we will truly develop as a country.

Just take a cursory look at the world economic development order. There is no really developed economy which polity is still hobbled by such offside sentiments such as tribalism or ethnicsm. They are vestiges of underdevelopment and Nigeria should do away with them. We should be concern with who is more likely to put food on our table and improve out lots generally.

Chijama Ogbu
Managing editor
Economic Confidential


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