Ethnic Animosity in Nigeria: A choice to Progress as Friends or Perish as Foes

Religion, Stories 29/05/2020 by Dr Stephen Akuma

The level of acrimony between the youths of some ethnic groups in Nigeria is getting out of hand. Sometimes you wonder if they were taught from birth to hate. Methinks it is more natural to love than to hate. I grew up in Makurdi and my childhood friends in my neighbourhood were Igbos, Igalas, Efik etc, but our ethnic differences did not affect our friendship. I later joined the Block Rosary Crusade (A neighbourhood prayer group) which shaped my spirituality, and most of my spiritual instructors were Igbos. In my secondary school, our Principal was a White Priest and he built in us the spirit of brotherly love irrespective of tribal affiliation.

The youths in Nigeria should rise above this barrier that has been holding our country down for a long period of time.

It was in my undergraduate days, during student unionism that I first experienced ethnic and religious card in play. It was quite difficult for me to understand why such a thing should be brought in student union politics, especially when we were quoting great nationalists like Nkrumah, Sankara, Che Guevara, Steve Biko etc in our speeches. In the case of Benue State University, it was between the Tiv and Idoma and most of the guys who were indoctrinated from birth with ethnic animosity, brought the dangerous ideology to campus politics. For someone like me who have friends from all over, it was a difficult terrain to operate. Also considering that my village in Taraku in Gwer East local government is next to Otukpo and Obi and we share the same market. Very few people know that my great grandmother, Ugwu is from Upu in Otukpo Local Government Area and the common language spoken in my village apart from Tiv is Igede.

Most times, the people that come to your help are not necessarily the people of your ethnic group. I was recommended for my first job in Kano by a Fulani man and it was my In-law, an Igbo man that stood as my referee. My book on NYSC has reached where it is today courtesy of a Plateau man I met on Facebook (we are yet to see face to face). Recently, I appealed for donation for the flood victims in Benue and two of the people that donated are Igbo and one is Fulani (we are yet to see face to face).

Ethnic bigotry only shows that we are a people without love, for love conquers everything. The youths in Nigeria should rise above this barrier that has been holding our country down for a long period of time. We cannot progress as a nation if we continue in this path of ethnic animosity.

This article was originally published on Sacs945 on 14.09.17

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