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Unity or Lack of it as a Decoy for Crass Political Opportunism

By: Kurtis Adigba
 minute read

There are two main assumptions by political elites in Nigeria:

Unity will be enhanced by the rotation of the presidency of the country, and Unity will be achieved by equitable distribution of political offices and opportunities.

The hidden but in-plain-sight interpretation to the two assumptions is that the area or areas that produce the president and other public officials will benefit more from the government than others.

This is simply untrue as shown by the anecdotal evidence.

We have had Presidents and other leaders from different parts of the country and religious beliefs with equal conditions or outcomes.

Leaders from the South work for the failure of leaders from the North and vice versa.

Instead of working together to create a rising tide that will lift all boats, they engineer storms that will capsize the boat so the captain can be demonized and sacked for them to step in, only to be confronted by the storms created by the former captain and his allies.

This is what is happening in Nigeria.

The areas that have produced presidents are not better than those that have not

The North has dominated power more than any other part of the country if we include military governments in the tally, but it is the poorest and most undeveloped.

Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as president did not do anything extraordinary for the South South.

He didn’t even do the major road connecting his part of the country to others.

When he was cornered in a campaign stop in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, he said

”they said I did not do anything for my people as if I’m the president of my people only, I’m president of Nigeria”.

President Obasanjo did not benefit the South-West beyond making a few person super-rich (he left Ota road leading to his farm in a dilapidated state).

Buhari has not done anything to fundamentally change the North in 6 years.

Mark was president of the senate for 8 years, it didn’t change the lives of the Idomas of Benue State. Yes, they helped some persons and associates whose activities might have had multiplier effects, but nothing really for the people in concrete terms.

While I concede that lopsided appointments can create dissatisfaction, effective performance by those appointed in meeting the needs of the people will blunt the sharp edges of discontent.

Most Nigerians care more about what the active president can do to improve their living conditions than about where he comes from.

Nigerians don’t go to the hospital sick and ask to know the ethnicity and religion of the doctor before accepting to be treated; they just want to know or be sure that he has the required knowledge and skills to help them get well. Similarly, Nigerians don’t care where the pilot is from, they care if he has the skills to take them to their destination safely.

Presidents Obasanjo and Jonathan are always cited as examples of leaders who ran inclusive governments. If we agree for a moment that they truly did, the question then is: was Nigeria United under them? No! The events threatening to upend the country today started under their watch and festered because they believed erroneously that the North was fighting them. Both men got overwhelming support from the North for their victories in 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2011, respectively.

Unity is not an event, it is an attitude

A progressive desire to come together and build stronger bonds in spite of differences, concerns, and fears. All the talks about Unity hinging on a fair and balanced distribution of opportunities are just decoy for dominance and relevance by some people. The same people and their cronies fill every vacancy and space allocated to their parts of the country as if fairness is only required in the distribution of opportunity between the Federal Government and States and not in the actions of the States and interactions amongst different ethnic groups!

How many states are observing the provisions of S14 of the 1999 Constitution and the principle of Federal character in distributing political opportunities? We have states where the 3 arms are dominated by members of one ethnic group.

The political office holders cause division and hate in their areas just to exploit the division and stay relevant. They encourage centrifugal tendencies and turnaround to cry lack of unity. How can the country be united when all some do is to keep calling for the dismemberment of the country at the slightest provocation or irritation? or treat every disagreement as unity destroying?

Unity does not mean that we must agree on everything and every time. It simply means that even when we disagree, we still work to preserve our common heritage and space while looking forward to addressing and resolving the issue(s).


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