By Chiedu Uche Okoye
No country in today’s world is wholly homogenous. Most countries have diverse ethnic and religious groups. Even Ghana, with its small landmass and population, has more than one ethnic group. In fact, from Australia to Europe, and from Africa to Asia, we have countries with people belonging to many different ethnic groups.
And, Nigeria is a nation of nations, what with her more than 250 ethnic, cultural, and linguistic groups. It was Lord Lugard who cobbled Nigeria’s many different ethnic groups together for administrative convenience during his headship of the geographical space called Nigeria. Upon our attainment of political independence in 1960, we opted for federalism as it is believed to be suitable for countries with diverse groups in many areas.
Many federal states have, however, collapsed. Think about Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Sudan and others. Nigeria would have been dismembered but for divine intervention. So, the country can be likened to a cat with nine lives. On many occasions, it came to the precipice only to be pulled back from it. Didn’t Nigeria experience a fratricidal civil war between 1967 and 1970? And the Maitatsine religious uprising in the 1980s threatened the corporate existence of Nigeria as one united and indivisible country. More so, the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election bifurcated the country into opposing groups and stoked up political tension.
Till now, Nigeria has not known true peace as the Boko Haram insurgent group and other separatist groups are engaged in centrifugal deeds in the country. The members of the Boko Haram group want to create and install theocratic Islamic caliphate in the country, which will stretch from the North to the South of the country as they believe that they’ve the divine right to rule Nigeria.
And, the IPOB separatist group has the notion that the Igbo people are being given a raw deal in Nigeria. So, Nigeria, as at now, is gripped and held by the jugular by ethnic hatred and distrust, which undermine the peace and unity of the country.
But, sadly, as it is at the national level, so it is at the state level. And, Anambra State readily comes to my mind. The former governor of Anambra State, at the tail end of his leadership of the state, carried out recruitments into the state civil service to strengthen and beef it up. But, the recruitment exercise was tilted, skewed and made to favour people who hail from a particular town.
Merit was sacrificed on the altar of clannishness, nepotism and cronyism. And, it should not be the practice of some civil servants in the top cadres and other influential people in the states of the federation to help their kith and kin to become heads of units at the expense of more qualified people. Our people’s favorable disposition to nepotistic attitudes and tendencies undermines the effectiveness of the civil service in many states of the federation.
Have we forgotten that the civil service is the pivot and engine room of the government as civil servants help to formulate government policies and execute them?
It is not only in the area of the state civil service that primordial clannishness manifests and rears its ugly heads. When it comes to politicking and the election of our Governor and representatives in the National Assembly, Anambra people will be unduly influenced by the factors of consanguinity and clannishness. Those who refuse to pitch their tent with their kinsmen vying for elective positions are considered and deemed to be oafs, nitwits, betrayers and unprogressive elements.
In the run-up to the Anambra Central senatorial election in 2011, I lent my unqualified and unalloyed support to the late Professor Dora Akunyili, Nigeria’s former minister of information. My supporting her candidature in the election became an invidious task for me. I was ribbed and severely criticized for backing her candidature. And her political foes threatened to liquidate me via fetish and mystical means. So, when I had a bus accident, and my right hand was caught between the body of the bus and a big drainage, not a few people attributed it to the fetish malediction purported to have been invoked and placed on me by our political foes and rivals.
But my love for Professor Dora Akunyili stemmed from the fact that she executed good policies during her headship of NAFDAC. She checkmated the influx of noxious and substandard drugs into our markets. And she saved Nigeria from implosion when she called for the invocation of the doctrine of necessity during the troubled and uncertain times of the late president, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Professor Akunyili hailed from an area which is different from mine, although we are both Anambra natives.
In the recent past, I wrote an open letter to Chief Osita Chidoka, my kinsman, advising and urging him to shelve his political ambition as now is not an auspicious time for him to contest the governorship post based on political permutations and the dynamics of Anambra politics. However, some days ago, a pal of mine, who is visibly irked by my writing an open letter to Chief Osita Chidoka, stopped me on the street and tongue-lashed me over the issue of the letter. I was stupefied by his audacity and rash behavior.
In civilised countries, a son may belong to a political party different from his father’s without their being at daggers drawn with each other. And, did Obama Barrack become the President of America based only on the coat tail of the support and votes of black Americans? If Barrack Obama were a Nigerian from a minority ethnic group, it would have been a herculean and uphill task for him to win a presidential election in the country.
We should know that a Governor or President is the leader of all the people in his state or country, and not a sectional leader. If we want our country to develop at a fast pace, we should do away with clannishness, cronyism and nepotism. It is only then that leaders with probity and leadership qualities will emerge in our country. It is an indisputable fact that bad political leadership is the bane of Nigeria.
Okoye PRO, Head of Service, Anambra State Civil Service