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Opinion: Why Nigeria Ethnic Crisis Is Under Pinned With Intolerance, By Lateef Ositelu

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Tolerance is believed to be a virtue essential in promoting peaceful coexistence among diverse of people in the world. It is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of global culture.

In spite of the obvious fact that people are different in their entirety. The earth that was created beautiful and peaceful for mankind to habit is currently facing wars, clashes, and all sorts of indiscrimination.

But if mankind can appreciate their differences, the world will continue to be a better place for us all. No wonder Martin Luther King Jr – says if we are to have peace on earth … our loyalty must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.

To grasp the in-depth of tolerance, according to Cambridge English Dictionary, which is willingness to accept behavior and beliefs that are different from your own, although you might not agree with or approve of them?

Experts say a family is the centre place of preparing the heart of a child either to love or hate. Globally, it is the smaller unit of a society which shapes individuals positively or negatively before discharging them to the larger society.

If hatred cannot be tamed right from home it will only turn out wild and consume people with violence. The role of family in ensuring communal and global peace cannot be overemphasized. It is the family that nurtures Individual upbringing, impact cultural belief, expose a child to life, and give comparative level of education as well as religious understanding.

According to Nelson Mandela – no one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than it’s opposite.

The World Tolerance Day (WTD) has become a global event; it was first established by UNESCO in 1995 and is being celebrated yearly on 16th of November with the aim of projecting global harmony, respect and peace among people of diverse culture world over. Findings by some Non- governmental organizations in August 2016 revealed that about 75 percent of ethnic killings and religious crisis are caused by intolerance and odium implanted in the blood stream of some children right from childhood. Nursing of hatred against other fellow without justification in the society may be due to family breakdown that has failed to nurture the children in love, to care for the wellbeing of others.

As a matter of fact, the concept of tolerance is not just mere understanding existing divergence in life or passive accommodating others, but must be seen as an act, a way of life and norm of instituting liberation, cooperation, peaceful co-existence and unity. The virtue of tolerance is teachable and can be inculcated in the lives of upcoming children within each locality. Sincerely, tolerance should be introduced as a new subject in both the primary and secondary schools in Nigeria. It may digress a bit from core study of history because its concept will be primarily based on genuine love to accommodate other ethnic groups as co- partner in Nigeria project.

The orientation of our people must change if we have to progress. Differences will always abound in life but it will be more profitable to harness differences for the wellbeing of all. Nigeria unification should not be enforced through any constitutional prejudice or violence but taught as a curriculum to build a nation in the heart of all.  Martin Luther King, Jr explains that hatred comes from the spirit and not from the material. And when loves comes from the heart, it cannot hate or kill anyone in the physical.

A gaze into the Nigeria civil war of 1967 which lasted for 30 months and the incessant clamor for creation of Biafra nation and all the incidence of wanton killings by Boko haram and clashes between the farmers and Fulani/herders in the middle belt, northeast, north west, south west, south east among other socio- political clashes were due to intolerance among different ethnic groups. In a 2018 report from nigerianinfopedia.com.ng which showed that Nigeria has 250 ethnic groups, the most notable and politically influential is the Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo and over 500 additional indigenous languages. Irrespective of these differences, Nigerians do not see sincerity in unity in diversity as national leaders tend to favour their tribe over other and this has resulted to hate speech and eventual killings of innocent people. This must stop. Humanity world over should learn how to tolerate each other without prejudice.

The role of Federal Government in nipping the ethnic hatred, religious intolerance and favoritism in the bud is not enough. Even the acclaimed federal character has been riddled with nepotism, favouritism and exclusion, which had led to cries and acrimony. Appointment at federal level which should be on equal terms has remained lopsided in favour of some sacred tribes. This has in no small way killed national peace, trust and unity among different ethnic group across the states and at the national level.

Even right from amalgamation of northern and Southern Protectorate of 1914 that led to the emergence of Nigeria as a nation in October 1, 1960, over 250 ethnic groups were merged together and had been mismanaged to degenerate into big divisionists movement among the major tribes. Many tribes are fighting over history of land ownership, tribal hegemony and socio-political superiority and undefined incursion and settlement.

For example, the activities of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOD) are meant to revive their agitations for segregation from Nigeria. While religious and tribal intolerance had led to lots clashes according to a report in 22nd of November 2002, the article in Thisday News Paper stated that the 2002 Miss World Beauty Contest to be held in Abuja had provoked some Muslims who religiously dislike such contest that led to killings and burning of houses. And Wikipedia reports on 2000 Kaduna riot were mainly religious violence that sprouted among Muslims and Christians in the northern Kaduna over the introduction of Sharia law in that part of the country which is preventable only if all religious leaders can preach true peace, tolerance and love for mankind. Of what economic benefit would the Junkun and Tiv killings benefit Nigeria, according Business Day 11 August 2019 if not wanton killings of innocent infants and children as well as destruction of valuables.

The protracted communal clash as reported in the guardian.ng on 7th August 2019 led to clash between Ikenga–Ogidi village and Umusiome village in Idemili North Local Government area of Anambra State was of no meaning. The dispute of land ownership had only led to killings of innocent children and women and displaced lots of people among many socio- political clashes across the nation.  Nigerians should see her over 180 million populations and its divergence in religion, culture, languages among others as a blessing for its unity and socio-economic development and not a curse.

If Nigeria can take cue from the United States of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK) United Arab Emirates (UAE) among others with their challenges and divergent nationalities still advance and developed to global admiration. The secret of these countries is based on understanding, accommodation and tolerance.  Nigeria is not different from these countries, so what stopping Nigeria from not living together. Why can’t the three major ethnic groups of Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo create a unifying platform through marriage and cultural exchange among others to end ethnic chauvinism? Why can’t Nigeria politics adopt rotational democratic pattern – to rotate administrative power from one region to other. Why are Muslims and Christians at war with each other over GOD? The God of the two religions according to the two Holy Books preach Peace and Love. Although the establishment of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) was a good initiative of government to rehabilitate, reunite and reconstruct the damaged national unity across different ethnic groups as a result of the civil war. This initiative is effective but should be re–branded. New national policy on education should be put in place to teach religious and cultural tolerance, peace and unity while the religious leaders and monarchs should create ambassadorial platform preach cultural and religious unification.

Ositelu, is of Ministry of Information and Strategy, Abeokuta, Ogun State

 

 

 

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