There is a lot of sensitivity that comes with religion and ethnicity in Nigeria. An average Nigerian often sees his tribe as superior. It is the situation that an average Nigerian owes loyalty to his tribe than the nation as a whole. Such loyalty to ethnic groups has impeded true nationalism and unity.
Taking a stroll back in history, as far back as the passage towards amalgamation and amalgamation itself, which led to the creation of Nigeria, there was no real debate in the British House of Commons on what to do with their new colony, as there was no real enthusiasm among the leading British politicians on the acquisition of new territories.
The emphasis in the British colonial office was deposited with the barest minimum cost of administering this vast territory. It was clear that England had no definite plans for the future of its new colony, Nigeria.
In the case of the geographical region that was later to be named Nigeria, it was ruled in three separate pieces, subsequently reduced to two units; North and South Nigeria, and in 1912 under Sir Fredrick Lugard as the first British colonial governor-general it became Nigeria.
Lord Lugard returned to Nigeria as Governor-General in 1912 and presented the secretary of states for a colony with the correspondence relating to the amalgamation of Nigeria drafted on the 9th and received on the 15th of May 1913 basically for financial reasons. The content of enlargement had been profoundly influenced by the previous experience of Lugard in Northern Nigeria and its disregard for the South of Nigeria.
In 1914, the correspondence with a content proposal for the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorate merged the colony and protectorate of Lagos together with the latter and former to become Nigeria. From the onset, there was little or no unification as it was the case that the amalgamation was based on the existing structure of the colony in Northern Nigeria, which gave rise to the indirect rule system.
Sir Lugard made no serious effort to unify the very different entity brought under one umbrella, notable was the fact that the administrative systems of the Northern protectorate, which was highly centralised was quite different from that of the Southern protectorate plagued with decentralisation. Therefore the indirect rule system was more troublesome that was a success.
A vivid look at Sir Lugard’s political memoranda, amalgamation reports as well as his numerous works on the new colony, it is not out of place to say that Lugard and most of his successors in the colony didn’t put into consideration the future of Nigeria as a single political entity. According to Richard Palmer, one of Sir Lugard’s successors, Nigeria is just a geographical expression as suppose to a nation.
Richards’s constitution created by Sir Arthur Richards, by way of establishing regional councils in the three provinces further aided in the drift apart and strengthened the trend of regionalism and tribalism. Therefore, from the colonial times, elections have been won based on ethnic biases which have impeded the unity of the country and most of the conflicts that arise from ancient ethnic sentiment fuelled by selfish political motives.
In the wake of the year 2017, Nigeria has witnessed various religious and ethnic inclined crises amongst which the Boko Haram terrorism played a prominent role, the long-standing crisis between the Fulani herdsmen and farmers in a tit-for-tat violence in Kaduna state featured and the indigenous people of Biafra, IPOB fighting for the state of Biafra taking the front role amongst all others. All of these crises have one thing in common, religion and ethnicity.
The divides that exist in present-day Nigeria has been from the very beginning of its creation. In the words of Alhaji Amadu Bello
‘… We should not seek to forget our differences, rather; we should strive to understand them.’
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