I woke up this morning cogitating about what to write for my column. Honestly, nothing came to me instantly. I am sure my readers are getting tired of me kvetching about the government all the time. I am getting tired of myself too.
However, in that cumulus of confusion, I had a light-bulb moment. “Why not write about unity? We should talk more about what unites us than what divides us,” the muse said.
To strike the nail of the subject, “unity”, I had to rummage in the crevice of my personal experience. I cannot write about unity if I have not had an experience of it in my own relationships and interactions with Nigerians from different ethnic and religious backgrounds.
First, I have known Bamikole Omishore (Banks) for some time now. He is from Osun state, but I am from Anambra state. He is a member of the APC, but I am non-aligned. I mean, I am “party-less”. We argue, we disagree, but we never go off the deep end or veer off into ethnic and political caterwauling. And we are agreed that Nigeria must always come first; every other thing is a distraction.
I asked him sometime, “Why did you to return to Nigeria – where some young citizens are running away from?” He said: “There is no place like home. You will always be a second-class citizen abroad, but a first-class citizen in your country.”
My relationship with him is not without jerks, but it has trumped every ethnic and political irritation. Banks would rather recommend a competent Igbo for an assignment than an incompetent Yoruba. Let me stop here so as to not walk the hagiography carpet.
Recently, I bought a house from an estate developer – a Muslim. This man is a dyed-in-the-wool Muslim. If you have any form of discomfort dealing with Muslims you may not want to transact business with him. He is a thorough Muslim! But there is something different about him. He is honest, open-minded, transparent and peaceful. I got to know him better. He takes no bogus profit, and if there is even a faint scar on his piece of property he points it out to a buyer first before any contractual agreement. I also got to understand his politics and was simply taken in. He never succumbed to the stereotyping that because I am Igbo, I may want cheat him or play a fast one on him.
There are millions of Nigerians like Bamikole and the estate developer. And I believe we are capable of unity! But why do we soak in the mercaptans of hate and enmity sprayed by some skunks on social media? Why do we make ourselves pliable tools of division and destruction?
I am tired of the “academic” reasons why Nigerians are not united or cannot be united. I believe the ordinary Nigerian in the street loves his neighbour and bears no ill-will towards him. We must accent the voice of the little things that bring us together – in our neighbourhoods, communities, offices and religious houses.
We are in an election year when the tequila of ethnicity and religion will be given charitably by politicians. We must resist the urge to binge on this corrosive substance. We are capable of unity.
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