Nigeria: How Did We Get Here? By Deborah Phillips

I am one of the few Nigerians who are privileged to live in the Army Barracks. I am from southern part of Kaduna State though I was born in Nguru, Yobe State but grew up at Abakpa Barracks, which was then in Anambra State but presently Enugu State. The Barracks is a small country of its own where you find people of different languages, religion, cultures and traditions .People with different background and upbringing. Those who are privileged to live there can understand what am talking about.

Our parents taught us to love our neighbours not minding what language they speak or the religion they practice. We could even see it from the way they relate with the neighbours. My father’s best neighbour was Oga Mohammed, a Fulani man from Katsina State. We go to their house during Sallah Celebrations and they respond by joining us during Christmas and Easter Celebrations. When my father or Oga Mohammed slaughters any animal for the festive season we eat together without minding who slaughters it. We see anybody from the North as our family without any form of discrimination.

Back then, we forgot words like hate speech, religious bigotry, Fulani herdsmen killing, Boko Haram Insurgency, Niger Delta Avengers, Indigenous People of Biafra, ethnicity, religious discrimination, IDP Camps ,kidnapping, child rape, ritual killings, treasury looting etc. ever existed. We saw ourselves as one big family working towards the advancement of the country. We voted for candidates not minding their religious beliefs or ethnicity. Scholarships were awarded to students based on merit not religion or ethnicity. Politicians were picked based on their competence and not religion or ethnicity. I wouldn’t say there were no hate issues, but we tolerated each other.

Some months ago, a group called The Northern Youth Coalition issued the Igbos a three [3] months quit notice to vacate the Northern part of Nigeria and i asked myself how we got here. What happened to the one Nigeria we profess? Where is the unity in diversity? Oh! I weep for my dear country Nigeria, the giant of Africa. In the heat of that quit notice, Mr. Dominic Ofuoke from Ebonyi State, who deals in electronics at the Sabon Gari market, Kano was distributing Sallah clothes to thirty (30) Almajiri children in the market. Out of curiosity I asked Mr. Dominic his reaction to the quit notice and also the reaction of his fellow Igbo traders and this were his exact words.” I did it out of love and for God. Though some of my Igbo brothers were not happy but some commended me. I believe Nigeria is one indivisible nation and no one can chase us from wherever we choose to live. Let God’s will prevail in our country’’. What a good heart.

At a time when other countries are experiencing natural disasters like earth quakes, hurricane, heavy floods, tsunami etc. We are not even thankful for the exemption instead we are the architect of our own misfortune. Let’s say no to hate speech, religious bigotry, child rape, nepotism, every form of discrimination, kidnapping, ritual killing etc. Lets effect the change we need in our country not minding whether we are Fulani, Hausa, Ikulu, Idoma, Igbo, Kataf, Ogoja, Urhobo, Tiv or Yoruba. Keeping religious sentiments aside and embracing peace. Remember, Nigeria is a country of immense importance in the contemporary world; the changes that take place in the individual lives, in the villages, towns and cities of this vast, populous and heterogeneous country are felt not just regionally in west Africa but across the continent if not the world (Marcus Leaning).

Deborah Phillips

Wrote in from the department of mass communication

Bayero University, Kano


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