Nigeria has been plagued by negative political, religious and tribal issues over the years. All these factors have kept calling for the country’s disintegration, from the civil war era up till date. There have been other clashes, too, that would have put an end to the entity called Nigeria, but it has stood firm and resilient in the face of many challenges.
“One Nigeria,” was a national re-orientation song released by Mr. Bigger as an individual effort towards supporting the vision that national unity is possible. Mr. Bigger is Franca Nkiru Ibekwe’s husband.
Nkiru Ibekwe, former banker and businesswoman, was a back-up singer in the song. Like her husband, she believes Nigerians can live in unity and uphold national cooperation, despite ethnic differences and structural inadequacies.
In this interview with Daily Sun, the mother of four speaks on her husband’s vision for Nigeria, and women’s responsibility in the actualisation of a better society.
What inspired the song, “One Nigeria”?
“One Nigeria” was really music to raise national consciousness. It was inspired by an inscription by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, at Teslim Balogun. My husband saw the poster, which said, ‘Let us move forward. If we must move forward, it is better together,” and it captured his attention.
From then, he felt that he could do something to help raise consciousness toward national unity and cooperation.
The song pushes for oneness of mind and patriotism among Nigerians, recognising tribalism and nepotism as key threats to the unity of the country. It urges citizens not to give in to retrogression but keep moving forward in unity.
My husband prays that Nigerians will realize that it is more profitable to live together as one nation.
Do you see the message of “One Nigeria” as a reality?
Yes, of course, I do. Don’t forget that, with God, all things are possible. It won’t be easy though, I have always believed that there is nothing God cannot do. Moreover, nothing good comes easy.
I also believe in the entity called Nigeria. My dream is that, one day, we will emerge stronger as a nation, in spite of all our differences and diversity. We have no other country than this one. If we are determined to make it work, it will work.
I believe that the continuity, progress and unity of the nation should be our common goal. Disintegration won’t benefit anyone.
How did you receive your husband’s vision to push for national unity?
I remember, when the inspiration for this project came up, I laughed it off initially. I did that considering the situation of the country; but he kept talking about the need for unity in the country and how every Nigerian needs to play a role to make it a reality. One day, he woke me up and said we needed to do something in actualising this vision of promoting unity in the country.
I was concerned that nobody would listen to him. He talked me into believing the possibility of his vision , and I realised that it is better we push for peace in this country, because unity births progress.
What kind of person is your husband?
My husband is a very simple man. He loves God and he loves friendship. He is not only friendly to outsiders but to his immediate family. He is a family man. Aside from being a musician, he is also a linguist, and academician.
What is your impression about the entity Nigeria?
I am certain that God created Nigeria for a purpose. One day, that purpose would become a reality.
Some people are clamoring for the disintegration of Nigeria but the song, “One Nigeria,” pushes for us to be together. What do you make of such advocacy?
I want to take a cue from what the Bible admonishes in Philippians 4 verse 8. It says, “Whatsoever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things.”
“One Nigeria” will benefit us all and there is no doubt about it. It is only for us to remain focused and resolute in our common belief and goal that we, as a people, are capable of making it work.
Many strong nations of the world have passed through more difficult times in economic downturns, political instability and even religious divides and emerged stronger. So, what makes Nigerians think that we cannot do the same or even better? I believe that Nigeria is passing through a phase, difficult though, but God will see us through.
Since society is made up of families, what role can parents play towards national unity?
The role of the family cannot be over-emphasized. It is often said, charity begins at home. Parents should be deliberately groom their children towards the right values and be resolute in passing their messages to them as the leaders of tomorrow. Aside from leading by example, if every family teaches their children morals and imbibes in them the right values of peace, unity, hard work and oneness, the society will be better for it.
You worked in a bank for about 15 years. Most women work and do not have time for their children. How do we inculcate these values to benefit society?
That is another kettle fish altogether because it almost affected me. When I was in the bank, I hardly had time for my children. But I think women can strive to create time because man creates time for his duties. Time doesn’t create man.
I urge mothers, irrespective of their busy schedules, to make out time for their children. Children of these days are to be monitored. When you let them be, they may turn bad eggs in the society because of influences, particularly from the Internet.
Fifteen years ago, it was a little bit easy to train children because influences, even from the Internet, were minimal. Presently, there is a big need for parents to always create time for their wards. They should interact with them, no matter how tired they are. Such engagements will help to curb distractions and deceptions that the kids may encounter.
In what way are you supporting your husband to propagate the message of ‘One Nigeria’?
Whatever I can do to make his vision come to reality, be it my time, skill, financial or moral backing, I do to support him. So long as he enjoys what he is doing, I help to push his agenda or vision, so to speak, forward. For instance, I was my husband’s back-up singer.
One of the things that makes marriages work is when the couple support each other’s goal. Initially, like I said, I didn’t see his vision as something viable and worthwhile but because it was his passion and what makes him happy, I supported him. And I am still supporting him.