Ethnic groups in perpetual conflict
Any government that would want to secure the future of Nigeria must invest in education. This is more urgent in the North where historical underdevelopment in Western education is responsible, more than the diversity in religious loyalties, for the social imbalance between that region and the South.
State governments in the North are enjoined to embark on aggressive education of their people, ensuring its compulsion to a certain level. The bulk of money accruing to these states must be devoted to this drive, while governors should stop celebrating mass marriages and contributions to pilgrimages as achievements of their administrations.
As someone who has been privileged to attend universities with Nigerians of diverse ethnic nationalities, I can attest to the fact that no group has superior genetic advantage over the other. I have friends from all over Nigeria whose intellects I will forever admire. It is all about the foundations we are all privileged to have had. There would have been no need for discriminatory quota system in education, as well as the insulting insinuations that go with it, if all our young men and women had been adequately prepared for future challenges.
I quite marvel at the relative ease with which young men and women from the predominantly Muslim North recite texts from their religious books. It would be naive to assume that children with such brains would not have done well in every sphere of human endeavour, as well as their counterparts tutored in Western education have done.
However, the fact remains that Western education drives the modern world and any nation or group that would want to compete in it cannot underestimate this fact. Those who have not been groomed to face future challenges could end up being beggars.
Of course, there would always be conflict of one nature or the other in a nation as diverse in ethnicity and religion as ours. As one supra-polygamous entity, we are entitled to be jealous and suspicious of one another.
However, the effects of such conflicts could be better managed where people are educated and can engage one another in civilised manners. We currently have a nation where barbarism seems to have taken the upper hand. People tend to resort to violence at the slightest opportunity. With better education in all its ramifications, basic and moral, our nation will be a better place for all of us.
It is not by accident that our nation is a federal one. The facts of territorial exclusiveness and language diversity suggest Nigeria could not have thrived in any arrangement other than a federal one. Maybe some of our attempts to resolve a crisis situation would have resulted in less conflict if we had taken the federal approach in things we do. This matter of serious crisis between farmers and herdsmen can be resolved by willing men and women who are intelligent in crisis management. Leadership is very important, and leadership is a collection of individuals who have influence on our collective behaviour.
The political leadership, in particular, must be upright. They must be above sectionalism and parochialism. The general leadership must learn not to resort to ethnic and religious blackmails when issues of mutual benefit should have been approached with patriotic zeal.
Those who beat drums of war at every conceivable opportunity are either shortsighted or mischievous. There is no perfect union anywhere.
However, a determined people can make the best of any situation in which they find themselves. We do not have any nation other than Nigeria. Those who have been visited with discrimination in other nations should appreciate this. Do not break up Nigeria and assume your salvation is in Libya or South Africa. We must continue to work for improvements. Building a nation is an historical task for many generations. Whether we like it or not, the big and cohesive nations of the world will continue to dictate global terms. Our external enemies know why they do not want us in that club. Sensible Nigerians should reflect on this
Akinola wrote from United Kingdom