There is a lot of immigrant movement globally, citizens of countries seeking asylum by all means from other nations, internally displaced people from internal violence and nationals looking for a better life from nations other than their own. These movements all around the globe are the result of religious, economic, social and political challenges inflicted on people by those who should really be part of the same national brotherhood, their own brothers. Foreigners, or so they are called have become better brothers than fellow nationals. It is obvious that indeed the whole family of the earth is one; we have extended our hands of fellowship across cultures and artificial boundaries to care for our own from distant lands, cultures and religion.
Sometimes I wonder how nations and tribes evolved? Where did immigration rules come from that tend to exclude people from people and confer rights and privileges, which exclude other humans? My thinking is, if nations feel excluding some people called non-nationals is desirable, how do we determine the most appropriate boundaries? Is it better to be smaller like in the BREXIT vote or bigger like in Europe or United States of America? The Britons voted for smaller. If smaller is justified why does it argue for Scotland to remain part of a space called the United Kingdom? Why can’t it be United Europe? How much smaller should smaller be or how much bigger is enough? I also think aloud, if indeed we have superior people capacity should we not prefer a bigger market that holds more opportunities for our people? Is BREXIT an indication that the people of Great Britain are unable to compete advantageously in a bigger Europe? Are they uncompetitive without the immigration wall? If they are, should the strategy not be to heal their weak competitiveness rather than protect it?
The other point that is perplexing is the whole idea of free trade without free movement of people. I should buy your goods but cannot sell you labor to participate in its production. While goods can move freely into my territory from yours, my people require Visas to come and participate in the production of the goods you want me to buy. In fact when the Visas are given, it will most likely indicate that you can only come and spend money in our territory not to earn money. What is even more laughable is, a nation like the United States of America built largely by immigrants has a challenge with welcoming immigrants. Trump the Republican presidential candidate whose own wife is one, thinks the solution is to build walls to keep immigrants away. Certainly there are programs designed in the world leading nations to allow the best and brightest in to live and work, further weakening their home nations. Who has designed the world to work this way? I know that it was not so from the beginning. Anyway this is not the point of the article.
If I am not welcomed by those I consider my brothers at home and I am constantly hunted and killed by my brothers with whom I have some few differences, who then should be defined as my true brethren except for those “Samaritans” that receive and accept me in other lands. I truly question how as diverse as America is they manage to include “United” in their name. What is this unity based on that is difficult in Europe and Nigeria?
This brings me to the old national Anthem of Nigeria used for the title of this piece, which by the way remain very compelling (but rejected because it was not written by a “national”). It speaks to brotherhood in a nation where its leaders have sponsored deep cultural, social and religious divide. To Lead, I must support disintegration instead of integration, smaller instead of bigger for how can I compete if I have to stand head on with superior minds from other legitimate citizens not from my tribe. To be the King I must have a kingdom. So we cry for the creation of more states and more local government areas not because it brings out the best in our people, but because it increases the likelihood for me to be the “leader” in a smaller place.
Another difficulty we face as a nation is the myriads of distrust we have among ourselves that allows for all kinds of conspiracy theorist to thrive without foundation. If we put so much effort in second-guessing each other I only wonder what time we have left to think about cooperation focused on national development. When do we come to the realization that the national space called Nigeria belongs to us all? Nobody stops us from going to live in Kano if Kano is developed to the most modern city in Africa, it is still our own. The Ijaw man can move and make a life there like they have done across several southern states. At least the constitution guarantees that. There are few villages in the South that you don’t find a mallam living, trading and even marrying.
Development is achieved by the brain capacity of our people and not their mineral resources. However every time people talk about resource control our minds quickly go to oil resources and not human resources, yet it is human resources that give value to natural resources. We are not even imaginative enough to think about other non-oil mineral resources we have scattered across the nation. The idea that we do not have citizens in all states of the federation with enough cerebral power to develop their respective locations is part of the corruption of the mind that serve to deskill our people and mitigate against development programs to develop our human and other mineral resources. Why we see the need to keep on mining our oil resource and leave other mineral resource from the main stream of our national life is both suspicious and foolish in my opinion. Singapore doesn’t have natural resources; neither does Israel—only brainpower yet they have built economies much stronger and viable than ours. Even Dubai is not known for oil (maybe Abu Dhabi is) yet we love to go there. We have to challenge and develop our people everywhere and believe, as leaders, in the capacity of our people to produce if adequately challenged. That way we can mine their cerebral resources, which have proved more valuable globally for the development of other nations. I don’t know why some of us feel so threatened and insecure when the subject of restructuring is mentioned as if oil has given us the right leverage as a people. Indeed why some states have a monopoly of oil resource, no state has a monopoly of human resources, which is the most valuable. In any case if oil is what we want, nothing stops any citizen from investing in oil business. If citizens from other nationalities currently invest and own oil blocks here, is it not clear that no one can stop Nigerians to do the same? It is this lack of recognition for our human talent and performance that makes gravitation to tribal sentiment very attractive.
Tribalism has never served Nigeria well. It seem not obvious to many that tribal affiliation at the expense of competence only fantastically makes us poor and underdeveloped. What has the Northern region benefited from all the years of northern rule except impoverishing her own people leaving them as the perfect image of poverty in Nigeria? How did the South-South region benefit from the rule of one of their own? Is the South-South region not an example of deprivation and neglect still? Not even the clean up exercise of the much-publicized environmental pollution of Ogoni land was flagged off, or the all-important East West road traversing the region was completed. He did not even put any infrastructure of note in his own home state or town. If our own tribesmen impoverish us, should we not look for brotherhood with others? Is it not time to jettison the idea that our brotherhood is centered on our tribal affiliation? Should we not reach out across tribes and find real brothers?
In the light of this, how should our brotherhood upon which we want to stand be defined? Many suggest a restructuring of Nigeria with the understanding that breaking up Nigeria is the way. These folks propose this in anticipation that a divided Nigeria will trust them into leadership. Indeed true brotherhood can only be defined from the perspective of contribution to the national good. A united brotherhood based on performance and competence without any room for a national character devoid of true contributory value. This is the real corruption. Any national restructure that does not emphasize the rule of law as our unifying force and integration and performance as our productive stimulant will only serve to sustain national sub optimization of our people and productive base.
Lets face it, the brotherhood on which we stand is not tribal, if men from our own tribe have made us poorer then we should look for our brothers elsewhere as some have now done seeking brotherhood in other nations of the world or tribes of the nation. Our true brothers are indeed those that can be counted to contribute to national development irrespective of their tribe so we can truly say ‘”though tribe and tongue may defer, in brotherhood we stand”.