NIGERIA AT 61: THE ENTRENCHED US VERSUS THEM SYNDROME By Hashim Suleiman
Nigeria is 61 today and I have always maintained democracy has brought certain goods owing to individual performances as against a coordinated national one that would aim to put the country on a planned and predetermined expectations. We are mostly having to deal with some states having good infrastructure that are not necessarily linked to other states because of the ownership of the linkages by the Federal Government that is overwhelmed and with major cash crunch that has led to massive borrowings which have to be rationed to the ones that are lucky if I may put it that way.
The reason why there is that lack of coordination of the developmental agenda of the nation is a matter that is less discussed in the polity and which I’m bringing on today as National Unity and Identity. Growing up till date, I have practically become sick of the Us vs Them coloration of things I get from every angle of the society, this is without being unfair to some very fine Nigerians I’ve met out there, in fact ‘my Director’ Alero Tenumah of Delta State is worthy of mention. Highly detribalized and realistic Nigerian.
Sadly, this narrative which has become entrenched in people has made it become normal to the extent that those who exhibit it do not feel they are doing any hurt to the nation. It has permeated the major fabrics of Public, Private and even diplomatic services. The other day I attended the burial of a friends dad at Delta state and someone had to ask me what I went to do in ‘that place’. I didn’t know what to do or say I shook my head and left in so much pain about the mentality. I have had conversations with some southerners regarding the presence equal number of illiterates in their zone as much as the north and the way they’ll insist it to be an only northern thing even when I prove to them I’ve lived there leaves me wondering what’s going on.
What is going to shock you about this matter is the depth with which it has penetrated the society and you’ll most times also wonder about the caliber of the people who imbibe such character. It is enough to get someone worried about whether there would be any hope for the nation after all. The major topic in the past weeks was The Southern Governors Vs their northern counterparts, you can see how deep it has gone. The VAT controversy is also there and the fault lines of the for and against are also very clear. Practically every national topic must be presented in the Us Vs Them narrative with little or no discussions around the possible solutions to the inevitable problems we have at hand.
The other day, I was watching a programme on the TV and a southern public analyst was asked his opinion about the south and north governors debacle over the Presidential slot and he was blunt to say the southern governors were wrong in their approach and had a lot of work to do to lobby and present a candidate that could win the heart of Nigerians and it sounded more like it, but the question is how many people can be such? The number is certainly on the negative. Everyone has to say pleasant lies to comfort their kins and this has gone on for too long now that there is a crave for truths and there are very little people to say them. The result is chaos.
Last night, a friend called from Kano and was asking about my opinion on the polity, I told him the north was economically disadvantaged and could run into troubles if these policies about VAT and fiscal restructuring scale through, he immediately retired into the usual syndrome and started to shop for consolation narratives around agriculture and I asked him if he was ready to pick his hoe to farm at that moment and if he also understood that agriculture was a chain up to production and once that is not there, there cannot be an economy from it. His response didn’t tell me I was convincing enough to get him off the Us Vs Them thoughts and as usual all that was for conversations sake because I have long known what to expect per time from the different corners of this country. Shortly after my conversation with him, another one called about the issue of PDP, this one surely hates PDP with his blood and appears bigoted towards APC. He tried to insist why I must believe it’s a work over for APC because the PDP governors had zoned national chairman to the north, I told him to never say never in politics as nobody can accurately predict what 2023 will come with, I encouraged him to imbibe the spirit of keeping his mind open about these PDP and APC issues and keep his support simple after all we are all Nigeria’s property.
Finally, I am very worried about the prevalent and most especially depth of this narrative and unless an emergency is considered on the need to mentor and heal these dangerous wounds, it is going to be very difficult to make a head way towards a coordinated national development.
Happy Independence Day Nigeria