Nigeria where do i begin? maybe we should begin by discussing the origins of our name, the name Nigeria was given to my country by Flora Shaw the girlfriend or future wife of Baron Lugard a British colonial administrator in the 19th century. Let's allow that to sink in a bit, we are the largest black nation in the world,Africa's most populous nation and our name was given to us on the whims of a British socialite keen to impress his bride to be, does this remind anyone of King Herod and the beheading of John the Baptist?? ok i digress,with over 155 million people and over 250 ethnic tribes the age old question comes about how did we all come together and how come we have been together this long without tearing ourselves apart?
Nigeria is largely a spiritual, superstitious nation. regardless of what religion they find themselves there is the cogent belief in a supreme deity, so maybe we were destined to all be grouped together like some obedient sheep into a barn yard but what has become the outcome. There are or maybe i should rephrase what i was about to write, there used to be pre dominantly three major ethnic groups in Nigeria, the Hausa, Yoruba and Ibo tribe but now i think we should acknowledge that the Niger Delta region has become a force to reckon with , even though since there is more than one ethnic group in the region it will be difficult to categorize them as such but in my opinion that is just semantics . "The census stated "that 50.4 % of the population in nigeria are muslims and 48.2% christians, there is a v reason why the previous statement is placed in parenthesis because like everything in nigeria those census figures are largely disputed to be inaccurate , in reality nigeria is somewhat split alongside a Sunni Muslim North and a largely christian south, that is not to say there are no minorities scattered alongside this divisions because they are, so on the ground we have one united but extremely divided country.
Since the discovery of oil in nigeria at oloibiri in 1956 the division between the north and south has become even more apparent, the North with its large mass of unending plains suddenly found themselves in a situation where the major money maker in the country was found in the southern states and so it all began, the encroachment of power by the north and a fight to regain political power by the south, i will not drag us back to the sad tragedy that was the Biafran war or the several coups that cultivated in a military government for several years, I don't even want to mention the degradation of the environment by the oil companies in the Niger Delta and how the neglect and in most cases physical attack of the Indigenes of these oil producing communities have affected negatively people in that region, all in the name of black gold. those topics are too sensitive, extremely painful and too lengthy to talk about so instead i will Plagiarize from Wikipedia After the loss of 300,000 lives, the war concluded in 1970 and resulted in a victory for the Nigerian state, as the secessionist regions were subsequently brought back into the Nigerian fold. However, the former Eastern Region had been split into two new states, Rivers and South-Eastern (now Cross River) in order to discourage lingering ideas of independence. Following the war, Delta peoples and their lands, with their vast petroleum reserves came to be seen by many in the Nigerian government as colonies of sorts. As a result these groups, notably the Igbo, have to an extent been marginalized in Nigerian politics since this time, whilst Nigeria's long line of military rulers have reaped immense profits from their land. Indeed, Nigeria has not had an Igbo head of state since the war's end.
After the famous "No Victor No vanquished " speech by General Yakubu Gowon what has become of our one Nigeria, have we moved forward, have we become one nation as our national anthem paraphrases maybe the 2011 General elections is a pointer to where Nigeria is right now. the year is 2011 and we are suddenly thrown into one of the most anticipated elections Nigeria has ever held after the June 12 1993 elections where another southerner with no military service experience Chief MKO Abiola had emerged victorious only to have those elections canceled and another Military dictator take his place now we had an unassuming unexpected southern leader becoming the favorite to win an election against General Buhari a northern former military dictator who suddenly wanted to come back to "instill discipline" in the polity , his words not mine, President Goodluck Jonathan who until that time was an acting president was suddenly thrown into the front line by the death of the late Yar Adua , he also is the first president to actively engage the public through the social media (OBJ's media chats not inclusive), before the election it was clear which way this was going to go , with the largely dominated muslim north favoring Buhari but the incumbent running under the largest ,dominant party in Nigeria who had billions of money for its nation wide campaign and a stronghold in the north with of course the support of the largely christian south i was not surprised when results came rolling in but guess who was surprised, the largely uneducated northern youths who had not been following the elections, suddenly they or "as we suspect were led to believe " that the elections had been rigged by the Christians to make Goodluck win the elections, let me point out that at this point the complete results had not been announced but the results announced at that time had shown that Buhari was winning the northern states maybe they expected a wider margin, i remember we were all here wondering what reality this guys were living in when i suddenly started getting twitter feeds that Christians in kaduna were being slaughtered, we stopped smiling , suddenly the information became worse, these hoodlums had besieged a polytechnic and were suddenly raping and killing students, then it got worse other states joined in and what we began to witness was a massacre it was terrible, i suddenly could not work properly anymore, how did one event relate to the other, children, woman, pastors, young innocent youth corpers all killed, burnt, raped, burnt to death, properties destroyed in this Nigeria???
I live in Lagos State , the Governor of Lagos State Raji Fashola is a muslim and some people don't know and don't even care , in my reality your religion does not need to affect your leadership capabilities, the church i attend shares its premises with a mosque on it's left ,as a matter of fact every sunday because of space constraint i pack my car in the mosque, i even have a special parking space, i walk through the mosque to get to my church with my church scarves and Bible in tow, i have been attending that church on and off for the past 13 years i have never ever heard of any clash, issue, fracas that involved the two religious bodies sharing this premises, aren't the members of this mosques equally muslims?? my closest neighbors growing up were muslims, my fathers closest friends outside his relations were muslims, as a matter of fact at one point in time we had two Quran's in my house and being an avid reader then i read the Quran, fascinated by the similarity of names between our biblical characters and the characters found in their holy book.
i have lived in the north, i found northerners extremely accommodating to me and relatively honest and loyal compared to people from other parts of Nigeria so where do this people come from? at some point i led an argument , i stated that the people behind this fanatical religious attacks were illiterate youths with no education or direction, sadly after listening to some enlightened northerners who actually were giving half-hearted explanations for this madness i began to have a re think, a lot of youths who were extremely upset from this harrowing experience began to call for secession, maybe we should just separate, it was clear that the north did not seem to move in the same direction we down here were moving, as if the universe were of the same mind as they were the election results when published was a figurative representation of the feelings of most of the youth down south it showed a clearly divided nigeria (find the diagram above this post)
If this was an isolated incident perhaps i would brush away this arguments as being emotionally exaggerated, but violence against Christians in the north are as current and recurrent as the cry of a new born baby in the children s ward in a hospital, Nigeria is about to host an international beauty pageant, some reporter makes a crude remark the christians are slaughtered, Eclipse of the sun some quarters say this is God's punishment for the sin of christians, christians are attacked, two neighbors get into a fight and the muslim is injured the christians are attacked, honestly i have lost count of the amount of innocent blood that has flowed unchecked in northern nigeria but this time the system has changed, the city of Jos in plateau state which to my mind was one of the most beautiful places i had ever visited in Nigeria, with it's humid temperature and calm peaceful way of life has seen an unprecedented attacks on christians from some islamic extremist group Boko Haram that people have fled that town in fear, there have been several bomb attacks which is peculiar to the nigerian people and with terrorism spreading its wings like some disease i fear the north has become a breeding place for extremists.
The attacks on the aftermath of the Nigerian elections were not stream lined to just Christians this time around, their leaders who they adjudged culpable to the alleged rigging of these elections were also attacked, millions of properties burned, a muslim youth corper identified by one of his students as a southerner was equally killed and his body set ablaze so perhaps this has escalated above religious fanaticism, Nigerians in the Diaspora called home in surprise wondering what was happening as images of a country on fire was spread all over the news networks, that i am certain is not a nigeria they remember.
So what next i wonder? now the dust has settled and it seems as if the worst is over what is the next line of action, are we to dust ourselves and move on pretending that those atrocities were never committed , or are we to cover the gaping wound that seems to always out live its cure or treatment in the north and wait until something sparks it off again? people have called for secession, the president has called for unity and me......i have re evaluated my idea of Nigeria, i still remember with love the beautiful people i met in the north ,but i also recognize that just like we have in other countries evil like a parasite has found its way here, if i were the government i would seek out the root problems and address it, if i were the government i would encourage the education of youths in that part of the country, if i were the government i would fish out the culprits in these ethically propelled attacks and punish them severely to dissuade others but i am not the government so i can only pray that someday i would be able to look at this country as i did when i was a child until then if you stay in a volatile environment be vigilant, be prayerful and try to relocate if you can..would you not do the same??
P.S i did warn about this at the beginning of the year may the lives of those innocents who lost their lives in an unnecessary blood bath rest in peace in our Lord's bosom and may God give their families the fortitude to bear the loss.