Blank NEWS Online (NIGERIA) –By Austen AKHAGBEME:

Against the backdrop of both the objective and subjective conditions that have helped to shape Nigeria’s Political History over time and her citizens’ perception of one another; it is also pertinent to seek to know who the true Nigerian is today.

In a thorough search of this magnitude, we must go beyond the opaque and theoretical provisions of our constitution as regards the qualification for Nigeria citizenship.

This will help us take a philosophical trip to a workable consciousness of who a true Nigerian should be and not who we generally think he is.

To the most of us, a Nigerian is anyone that comes from any indigenous tribe within the geographical boundaries of the present Nigerian state; or one whose parents or grandparents hails from one of the many tribes in Nigeria.

This paraphrased constitutional provision helps to create our collective perception that degenerate into negative tribal relations and mutual suspicion and disharmony that we’re witnessing today.

As such, everyone seems to first of all, think of his tribe and her welfare before the conscious realization that he’s supposed to belong to a much broader and superior affiliation than his tribal lineage. And this truly, could be the crux of the matter.

It is on the basis of this peripheral scope that the politics and politicking of today is hinged; albeit dangerously. Yet the question remains: who or what will help us think differently?When do we begin to think ‘progressively’ Nigerian? And what truly, do we mean by this?

The ideological gap and the odious perception differentials of who a true Nigerian is ( vis-a-vis who he should be) as encapsulated by the Nigerian Constitution and the seemingly herculean desire to elevate such perceptions therefrom, to the possibility and practice of “thinking Nigeria first” before tribe, is this writer’s utmost concern.

Agreed that adjusting our mindset to this, going forward, is no tea party; but remaining with the status quo will continue to be like the morning fog in a bright day, for progressive politics and politicking in Nigeria in many years to come.

Stories had it that one of our foremost Nationalist, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was a true believer of Nigerianess by tribe. He saw himself, first of all, as a Yoruba man . His contemporary, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe ,was of the opposite divide. But the truth remains that these early nationalists’ perception laid the foundation for tribal politics and political parties in Nigeria.

But there’s a ‘caveat’ here: while the tribal politics of old ‘helped’ to develop the regions as it were, today’s tribal politics helps only to ‘develop’ individual pockets and interests. There’s a gulf between the two, obviously.

When will an Aminu, born and raised in Enugu state ,be free to contest for an elective position with a Chukwudi in Enugu? When will an Okorie, sleep with two eyes closed in Kano comfortably for the whole of the 365 days in a year or 366 days in a leap year with an irresistible feeling of peace and pride as a true citizen of Nigeria? When will a Bunu, from Kaduga in Borno state be accepted as a running mate in a gubernatorial election to an Olawumi in Osun State?

Answers to these probing questions encapsulates our collective dilemma today as a nation. It is obvious that tribalism and tribal politics has failed us. But should we continue with it as though all is well? Your guess is as good as mine.

  • Austen AKHAGBEME is a Columnist with Blank NEWS Online
News Reporter
Blank NEWS Online founding Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Albert Eruorhe Ograka, is a Graduate of Mass Communication. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Journalism from the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ).

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