The rise of tribalism and religious sentiments in Nigeria
Sir: We are stock in a nation where election processes have become a religious and tribalistic affair. Yes! We have a high number of illiterates in Nigeria but at the same time we also have quite a number of literates. Yet, it seems to me as though the so called “literates” have joined the ignorant wagon and are seen to act irrationally in the aspect of voting, as majority now vote based on religion and tribe rather than competence. This is not a good development at all. We are supposed to have grown past this stage, especially with the increasing level of literacy in the country. Where has Unity disappeared to? Where is our One Nigeria?
Judging from the outcome of the just concluded presidential elections and the campaign processes for the upcoming gubernatorial elections, it is very clear that these elections have been based on religious and tribal sentiments. People voting for individuals of same religion as if it is a religious thing. Our voting is supposed to be free and fair and not being biased in any way because the moment we start being sentimental we then forget to choose the right candidate and not choosing the right candidate may lead to greater damages in the future.
Anywhere you go today, not excluding the social media, we hear and see people talking bad and attacking others simply because they chose to vote or support a candidate of a different religious body or tribe. You hear them saying, “The Christians didn’t vote for any Muslim and for that we all shouldn’t vote for them” and vice- versa, Or they say, “The Igbos refused to vote for the Hausa’s or the Yoruba’s.” All these ideologies and mentalities ought to have stopped by now. As we all know, Nigeria is not a country ruled based on religious fanaticism or tribalism and for that reason, citizens should abolish the idea of voting based on religious or tribal differences but rather vote based on individual capability and competence.
If we continue to vote based on our differences or sentiments then it might result in causing chaos and mass destruction in the country which I believe we all don’t want that to happen. So why not end this unlawful idea and behaviour once and for all for peace to rain in the country. The issue has become very serious to the extent that in our Holy Houses, both the Pastors and Imams preach to their members to only vote for their fellow brothers and sisters and no more. Nigeria is better than what we imagine, it’s a great nation with good people inhabiting in it. We shouldn’t deter our country all in the name of tribalism and religious sentiments amongst ourselves.
Unity is key. As the saying, “united we stand divided we fall,” we should not allow elections break the strong unity between us all, because the elections won’t last for long but the harm and dangers we are putting ourselves in to might last forever if we don’t caution ourselves against what we are doing now.
With this, I urge every Nigerian citizen to throw away their tribalistic and religious ideology of voting and vote based on merit of any aspiring candidate in order to build a stronger, peaceful and harmonious Nigeria as well as build a strong level of togetherness and unity among its citizens.
• Hassan Zainab, a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
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