Ethnic jingoism and religious bigotry; the duo that will forever be an impediment to the development of this nation.

By MUHAMMAD MUAWIYA ALKALI

Nigeria, a multi-ethnic and religious nation, has different tribes with different cultures, different religions with different belief systems and different persons with different orientations and opinions. Our diversity is both a blessing and a curse.

A blessing if we understand the most fundamental of human rights — respect for all individuals as equals. Through inter-ethnic marriage, one can enjoy the business-oriented nature of the Igbos, leadership spirit of Hausas and intelligence and knowledgeable nature of the Yorubas. However, our diversity will be considered a curse because it creates repulsive irritability among us. Today, we vote for politicians because of their identity not their credibility and integrity, we have separate schools for our children, where Muslims attend muslim-based schools and Christians attend christian-based schools; we live in separate neighborhoods; our children do not interact with children of other faiths and tribes; we only befriend individuals with whom we share similar identity, and hardly join peer groups of people with different identity or accept someone of different identity into our peer groups; we patronize businesses of people with similar identity as us; we give more priority to the person speaking rather than his utterances; we give more priority to the doer of an action rather than the action itself. We have embedded in us that the yardstick for being right or wrong is to belong to a certain religion, culture or tribe.

We are no longer what we were, the family chain has broken down. If our present generation slit each others throats, burn down each others houses, call each other names and throw insults and hate speeches on social media and display all forms of resentment despite the fact that we attended the same school, grew up together and befriended each other irrespective of our identity, what do you think would happen in years to come now that there is absolutely no mutuality among us? As long as we continue perceiving things from our own perspective only, we are doomed. If it is true that the future of our nation rest on the shoulders of our youths today, then the world we all dream for our children and their children after them will forever be a mirage. By the standing point of things today it’s difficult to find a nice girl to mother your unborn children not to mention finding a good teacher to give them proper education or a habitable environment to raise them.

Religion and tribe are information that are held to be of a paramount importance of a patient’s medical note, a student’s or an applicant’s biodata, but should they be? Why must one indicate his religion and tribe when filling any form whether at schools, hospitals or when applying any job? How does one’s religion or tribe affect the kind of treatment one will receive, the education one will learn at school or the kind of effort one will offer at one’s workplace? Why not get rid of religion and tribe from the medical records or other forms all together and let the patient’s biological state, student’s performance or the applicant’s qualification speaks for itself? That way doctors decide how to treat you because of what is wrong with you and not because of your identity and institutions decide to give you admission or offer you a job because of your qualifications not because of you religion or tribe.

Why do government institutionalized quarter system and federal character when giving appointments and employment? Why are appointments and employment not based on competence and deservation?

Why do political parties constitutionalized Muslim-Christian tickets in some places despite our secularism?

To be able to address this issue in anything more than a hand-waving fashion, we need to embrace our diversity without rancor and follow the fundamental steps of unity: First is repulsion through irritability, people repel and dislike what they don’t know or what is different. As time goes on, they tend to accommodate one another through alignment, adjustment and compromise. Finally, they attain tranquillity through tolerance. In order to achieve unity using our diversity, we must understand the dignity of human beings, we must learn to hate the act not the doer of the act, we must have tolerance and mutual respect for each other.

Muhammad Muawiya Alkali writes from Numan, Adamawa state and can be contacted on: [email protected]

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SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (opinions)

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