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Afenifere: Socio-cultural group or political party?

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Sir: With many socio-cultural groups in Nigeria, one expected that Nigerians of all walks of life at this time would be alive to responsibilities, addressing national questions of inequality, poverty, nepotism etc. away from the approach of cultural groups perennially playing the games of victimhood. After all, norms shape individual habits and what better group but cultural groups to help teach correct norms of interdependence and communal living. Cultural policy in Nigeria is so hard to understand and define. I’m not questioning the validity of their importance.  It’s just that it gives me something new to think about. On television every day I see spokespersons of cultural groups creating buffer zones, with their spears in the sand on ideological grounds with daggers drawn.

Disturbingly, observers are beginning to see a cultural shift where cultural groups which are not political parties today are nimble-footed in joining issues with government, elders and retired statesmen without respect. Are cultural groups now political parties? Giving ultimatums? Drawing borders? As open-minded as they claim to be, how come they still struggle just like all other tribes in Nigeria, with the fight against tribalism.

Cultural groups never fight shy of ethnic groupings. They work with borders and never discuss trans-border issues and disasters. You never hear them promote cultural tourism to grow the economy. Good governance starts and ends with the central government and never with leaders of their cultural groups and regions. We have leaders not prepared for office everywhere. Leaders in whose world road constructions are linked to development. And whose standard of governance is so abysmal that you wonder if ever we can be classed as a great country. Groups quick to mention the achievements of past regional leaders but are never as disciplined as those leaders.

Before independence from Britain in the early 1950s cultural groups sent men of unassailable character to represent their locality and people in elections before alliances to major political parties which were hitherto unknown then. To test the relevance of today’s cultural groups, leaders of such groups should either change from being called socio-cultural groups to form political parties and run for political offices or sponsor people with integrity to run for offices and provide good governance instead of engaging in the time wasting caper of blaming everyone but themselves and their regions for the problems of Nigeria. Cultural groups everywhere in the world work as a think-tank to help government provide medicine, hospitals, schools, drinking water, tragedy management, tackle terrorism, and do not settle for the easy task of seeking attention and relevance.

The growth of Nigeria depends on the working together of all cultural groups for development and not on supremacy which groups champion always.
Simon Abah wrote from Abuja.


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