Unity in Diversity: The Plethysmograph of the Nigerian Nation
Dr. Abdulkareem Onakoya (PhD, FNIMC),
Department of Political Science,
Lagos State University of Education, Oto-Ijanikin,
8th May, 2023.
I listened to a recorded video of the Nigerian Vice-President, Professor Yemi Oshibajo some minutes ago about the last general elections and how politics was played out of the boundaries of national interest and the common goal.
The 15-minute15-minute tape was captured and well digested to imagine how far some of us have really been enthralled and mentally enchanted with the bigotry of biomorphic political sentiments of ethnicity.
From his speech, he bemoaned and really castigated the doings of some religious and political leaders in the ‘shameless and unpatriotic’ manners to push forth their parochial and unsophisticated beliefs. So pitiful indeed.
Nigerian heterogeneous and inhomogeneous situations have been adequately addressed by scholars who have dug the historical details of the nation to mean a ‘divine intervention’ and blessings in disguise.
The phrase; ‘Unity in diversity’ is commonly referred to as peace and harmony. It is meant to have the tolerance for different castes, creeds, beliefs, races and nationalities. It actually educates all humans and living beings to unify and find methods to bond with one another despite the noticeable differences.
The phrase was firstly used in Canada by the then Premier of Quebec, Adelard Godbout some years ago to welcome foreigners into the city and allow them to contribute meaningfully to the envisaged socio-cultural development the country craved for.
In 2000, the European Union adopted the phrase as its official motto. It shows how much the comity of nations takes unity to mean ‘togetherness’. There are many races, nations, religions and cultures in Europe. Coming together for a common reason and goal beautifies the intention of the union.
India has been taken as a typical example of a country under ‘Unity in diversity’. The simple reason is because the country has people of diverse religions, beliefs, colours and cultures who have been living together for centuries.
At a walk of a kilometre length or close to that, mosques, temples and churches are almost situated at arm’s lengths. If not for some extremists who are hellbent of the dismemberment of the Kashmirs and some Muslims in the north, the second largest population has been very free of acrimony and disunity.
Nigeria is a large population of people with no fewer than 210 millions and about 250 ethnic groups. These people are of different cultures, values, norms, beliefs, traditions, institutions and religions.
Statistics has it that about 450 languages are being spoken in the country and the variety of customs and traditions among them give the nation a great cultural diversity.
Our diversity has been the cause of many conflicts which have bewildered the progress of the nation at every stage of our existence.
The Kaduna/Kafanchan riot of 1980s and 1990s, the Kaduna Shariah crisis of the 2000, the Jos riot of 2001, the Fulani herdsmen and the Yorubas in Oyo state of 2021, Yorubas versus Ibos in Alaba Marketplace in Lagos of 2022 and a host of others.
These crises were the results of the primordial national sentiments which were bequeathed unto us by the long reign of colonialism and the new disdainful spirit of neo-colonialism.
At different polling stations in the just concluded general elections, ethnic affairs were reportedly scheduled for interrogation by electorates and some were outrightly disenfranchised by efforts of some disgruntled members of public.
That actually outplayed us in the choice of the new president who is believed to be a representative of a section of the nation with the total rejection in another part of the country.
The calls of some sectional and religious leaders in the open against the movement of certain political parties have actually shown that the politics we understand in this part of the continent is contradictory to the real principles of democracy.
Unity is an integral part of our development to say the least. Any nation which is integrated into various facets will grow. It will face little internal issues compared to other ones which are socially unstable and divided.
Dangote is a typical person in Nigeria who promotes the element of ‘unity in diversity’. He tries as much as possible to give preference to the Nigerian identities regardless of religions, races and cultures.
The Tiwa Savage’s recent performance at the coronation of King Charles III in the United Kingdom was applauded by all despite our differences in languages and cultures. To an ordinary Nigerian, she is a Nigerian, then a Yoruba woman. Ditto, Anthony Joshua, Isreal Adesanya, Tobi Amusan, Okonji Eweala, Akinwunmi Femi etc. Their successful outings are ‘OURS’.
Nigeria is a natural space where we all meet to traverse. It must be allowed to have access to the bloodstreams of individuals living in it. Diversity in unity should not be allowed to raise its ugly head at all costs.
We need to maintain certain levels of togetherness as entrenched in our social beings and affairs.
With concerted effort of nation building, the New-Nigeria is very possible.
That the ‘labours of our heroes past, shall not be in vain’ !!!