A nation has been described as a tightly-knot group that share a common culture. But our sectional and regional outlook has affected our ability to see ourselves as Nigerians.
Despite the general perception that we are one as a country, the reality starring us all in the face is that Nigeria is yet to achieve nationhood.
Bolaji Samson Aregbeshola, a freelance writer and author of “Nigerian Political Parties and Politicians: Winding Road from Country to Nation”, a book that outlines and x-rays the activities and programmes of Nigerian Political Parties and Politicians from pre-independence to the present-day with a view to avoiding the pitfalls of the early republics, says fostering social harmony and economic growth is the beginning of any meaningful progress in Nigeria.
“Ensuring cohesion and integration among the diversities of ethnic group is central to nation building. To work tirelessly without achieving nationhood is to continue with the slow level of progress compared with our years of independence,” he notes.
As Nigeria continues to go in her life without integrating the various ethnic groups and regions of the country, Aregbeshola stated that: “The objective of having a strong sense of nationhood may not be achieved.”
Aregbeshola says the leadership of the country must as a matter of urgency begin to work towards championing the course of nation building. While studying the democracies of the first, second and third republics and what led to their demise, he was surprised to find that the reasons for the collapse of the early republics were the same. It is evident that most Nigerian politicians have not taken our country’s problems to heart and avoid its recurrence.
“The same omissions and errors of the early republics are being repeated in the current republic“, Aregbeshola asserts. “Nigerian Political Parties and Politicians have not learnt any lessons from the past. They do not seem to be conscious of this. Many of them only care about enriching their pockets and only a few have the interest of the followers at heart.”
Aregbeshola was amazed to find that nepotism, struggle for power, corruption, embezzlement of public funds, poor economic management, maladministration, breakdown of law and order have become the order of the day among many politicians.
Although some concerned Nigerians have over the years been lending their voices through different media to the need for championing the task of nation building but nothing seem to have been done by the political elite to foster social harmony among over one hundred and seventy million Nigerians. As a book author, I have decided to call the attention of those saddled with the responsibility of ensuring nationhood through cohesion and integration.
For over 50 years now, Aregbeshola observes that, “difference in ideologies, tribalism, political rivalry among others have diverted our attention from nation building. But this continued political intolerance, disagreements and conflict among politicians without learning from its negative impact on the country is tantamount to steering the ship of the country non-chalantly. The failures and mistakes of the past must not be carried along into the future.”
We do not need a soothsayer before we begin to avoid the pitfalls of early republics.
“There is no other way out,“ Aregbeshola says, “we have to be very conscious of these debilitating factors. Though Nigeria is faced with myriad of problems and we all have an idea of what these problems are but we should not create more.”
And what have been the reaction of some Nigerians to his book? They saw it as a timely and consciousness-raising book,” he says, because we have come a long way not to become a nation. But really, 53 years of independence is not too short a time to achieve nationhood. This is enough time. Nigeria can only make steady progress if the political parties and politicians work towards nationhood.”
Aregbeshola says the reasons for our lack of nationhood (after 53 years of independence) are easy for all to see. They include lack of will power among the political elites, selfish-interest, tribalism, political radicalism, problem of ethnicity, discrepancies and election malpractices Aregbeshola says. “Nationhood has been linked with meaningful growth and development while lack of nationhood results in slow level of progress.”
The great diversity of our country, differing origins and opinions as well as beliefs and interest should not be an obstacle to nation building. All political parties and politicians should cooperate in the interest of the country. And in spite of the diverse character of people, the essential unity of our country can grow stronger.