Ethnic Diversity: A blessing or a curse?

I remain Bekeme. Life has been good. It has been challenging. It’s Nigeria. And I think that, if the only reason you call me today is just to say, I am fine. I am happy I hear your voice.

Anyway, I won’t stop reminding you. Covid19 is still ravaging the world. It’s not totally gone. It’s just a friendly reminder. Protecting yourself and your loved ones cannot be overemphasized. Please take the vaccine if you have it available in your vicinity. If you are afraid of AstraZeneca, Modella is out there.

Fantastic news! Initially, our version of the AstraZeneca vaccine was not approved by the UK Government. So, you would take a double dose. You’d turn up in the UK and they would tell you that you did not, hmm! your vaccine is not recognized. But yesterday I did receive reports, it’s on the UK website that the Nigerian vaccine is recognized now. It would be recognized on the 11th of October. So, for those of you who are international businessmen and women, do something about it, if you don’t want to waste 2 weeks of your time quarantining up and down, then do something. Take the vaccine. If you have taken the two vaccines, one thing you can do for yourself is to scan the barcode in front of the vaccination card, and it will take you to the website, and you will see your information, and know whether or not both vaccinations have been uploaded to the website. If it hasn’t been like mine hasn’t been. Go to the website where you took it and tell them to sort it out.

If you missed the episode of Things Dey Happen drama last week Tuesday on Inspiration FM, it holds every Tuesday by 11:45 am and is for 15 minutes. And it tells the story of Maggie. Maggie continues to cry for help. Madam Dora, the NGO lady says I am going to tell the world. Maggie says No. Madam Dora goes ahead and tells the story. What implications do you think these would have for Maggie? You can catch up on this episode on Sound Cloud, bit.ly/thingsdeyhappendrama tomorrow Saturday from 10 am.  We’ve had awesome feedback. We are airing in locations across the country, including Oyo, Delta, Enugu, Ogun, Abia, Rivers, and Edo State. Don’t miss it on it. We want you to listen, so you would understand the plight of women who work in oil and gas communities. These are communities with a lot of wealth, but a lot of repression for women.

Okay. Unto the discussion for this week’s show. Last week we had a very interesting guest. Everybody said, ah you should bring mama back. I mean she’s 80 years old, Mama can’t, you know, risk coming here, not being able to get up. We did want to have her here, but we couldn’t. You know, some of the takeaways for us was that we haven’t managed to plan as a nation, she says we haven’t managed to plan for progress, and we need breed thinking children. We need to teach our children how to think.

This week we would be talking about ethnic diversity, which is linked to last week’s show. Is it a blessing or a curse? You know the number to call, 0700923923923. Humm, basically what I want to hear from you is your uniqueness as a Nigerian. At some point, I will go through mine, and you will tell us about yours.

Now we are very aware of Nigeria, we know what we were made up of. From primary school they keep on telling us, Nigeria has over 200 languages, and 300 ethnic groups, and all of that. We speak different languages and all of that. But then, what does that mean in essence?

Something that has been in the news recently is scission, discussion. On one hand Boko Haram is fighting, saying we don’t want western education, and at some point, we heard that they have two major groups. One group is very upset with the government. They are upset with the way people are leaving ooo, you’re following the western style that we do not agree with. And you know, they are saying some of these things are innovation. They do not want this as part of their culture and religion.

And then in recent times, we have been seeing what has been happening in the East.  Easterners are unhappy. They are saying a certain part of the country is taking them for granted. Guess what?! There is a lot of in-fighting. And we did see Chinwetalu Agu, the popular veteran actor of Nollywood got roped up for wearing the Biafran flag as an outfit. Now, I have thoughts about it.

The truth is that as a country we do have freedom of expression and all that. You know, something that’s touted frequently is freedom of determination. There’s that freedom, and that freedom is only granted within a nation, a sovereign nation constitution. Now, self-determination can be adjudged when and hmm, the right to self-determination can be brought to the floor when it’s another foreign entity trying to impose itself in a sovereign country.

But, in the case where we have a structured nation, I know some will argue the structure (Bekeme laughs), but we have a structured nation like Nigeria, you can’t actually just say insightful things, and say certain things, it has to work within the confines of the constitution. So, nobody is saying no one should express their thoughts. But we are saying let us be civilized people when we do these kinds of things. Civilization from the people. Civilization from the security personnel, whether it’s the army and police. And as I was researching this topic,  I also saw that at some point, we changed our anthem, or at some point, I was reminded that we changed our anthem from “Nigeria, we hail thee” to “Arise, O Compatriots.”

This was because it brought me to the whole discussion, Nigeria and the name change- UAR. I saw one comedian boy say UARU, from my zone in Edo state. So, Nigeria to UARU, and all of these things, and everybody just focusing on the fact a name was given to us by some Lord, somebody’s Girlfriend, and as such, that is a problem. And then I remembered that we did our anthem from “Nigeria, we hail thee” to “Arise, O Compatriots.” And did we become patriotic?

 This is the question. This is such a name. And sometimes what turns the happiness is that we dwell in the things that do not in essence matter. What happens is what we think. It’s the reason, the intention behind an action and you know, to even come up with this new anthem, there was a competition. Based on that competition, 5 entries were chosen. And the new anthem “Arise, O Compatriots” is an amalgamation of bits of the five people’s contributions. There was John Ikechukwu, there was Eme Etim Akpan, and there was Babatunde Ogunnaike, Sota Omogui and P. O. Aderibigbe. I wonder where they are today. But, all these people sent in entries, and they were nominated. And yet, I don’t know if we are more patriotic.

So, ethnic diversity in Nigeria. Is it a Blessing or a curse? The number to call is 0700923923923. Again, 0700923923923. And you know, I keep on considering what happens when, you know, we talk about diversity.

I went to a girl’s boarding school, federal Benin. And t’s a unity school. And there is an argument that this is what unity schools do for you. Unity schools actually help to promote diversity. They do.

(CALL COMES IN)

Bekeme: Hello

Caller: Good evening ma

Bekeme: Good evening, sir. What’s your name, please?

Caller: My name is Mr. Obed. I am calling you from Lagos. Ojo, Lagos

Bekeme: Mr. Obed. Thank you for calling the Good Citizen Show. So, what do you think?

Caller: My sister, I believe in Nigeria

Bekeme: Thank you

Caller: I am an Igbo man and I believe in Nigeria.

Bekeme: Hmmm!

Caller: Is there justice in Nigeria? The problem is not a gimmick, and it is not (voice inaudible). Let’s come together. Let’s come together. How can you come together when there is divisiveness? When there is no justice

Bekeme: Hmm Hmm

Caller: People won’t want to leave together. Hausa, Igbos, Yoruba, Muslims, and Christian, we love ourselves, we want to leave together (voice becomes inaudible), they don’t want to live together. Now that you talk about the east

Bekeme: Hmmmm

Caller: Look at what is happening in the east. (Voice becomes inaudible) Planted there, and got there by evil people

Bekeme: Yes

Caller: It was planted there, and those wee evil people. People like us, we have seen things, and we love ourselves. I am from the east. My wife is from the north. I attended university in the west

Bekeme: Thank you

Caller: I know how Hausa people love Igbos, how the Igbo love Yoruba, how the Yoruba love Hausa… We love ourselves.

Bekeme: Hmmm Hmmm

Caller: Common Nigerians love themselves

Bekeme: Yes

Caller: Will the politicians allow us to be like that?

Bekeme: Absolutely

Caller: I don’t think we will allow us to be like that. I don’t believe in records. I believe in (voice becomes inaudible). I believe in practical example, particularly this present government hasn’t is shown utter disregard for justice.

Bekeme:  Hmmmm

Caller: They have shown utter disregard for (voice becomes inaudible)

Bekeme:  Hmmmm

Caller: They have shown utmost (voice becomes inaudible) for the country. Then how will those people come together to say they love the other people?

Bekeme: Hmmmm

Caller: as you see me, my heart bleeds

Bekeme: Hmmmm

Caller: Because I know how they treated me when I was in the university

Bekeme:  Hmmm

Caller: the villagers treated me when I was in Zaria in the North

Bekeme: Yes

Caller: They loved me

Bekeme:  Hmmmmm

Caller: Moe than my people in the east

Bekeme:  Hmmmmm

Caller: when I was in Zaria, that was the highest point of my happiness in life

Bekeme:  Hmmmmm

Caller: I love Zaria to the point that I would love to live there permanently

Bekeme:  Hmmmmm

Caller: But look at what is happening. When I was at the University of Lagos, they sent me to retain me after my university education, in a Yoruba University. Look at my sister, and I married from the north

Bekeme:  Hmmmmm

Caller: I am not happy about Nigeria. About Nigeria Politicians. As you see me, I am ashamed of Nigeria, I am from the east., I am an Igbo man. I have always remained south. Look at the caliber taking place there

Bekeme: It is crazy

Caller: If the government will do the needful, to fish out (voice becomes inaudible), it’s IPOB, (voice becomes inaudible), are they not ashamed of themselves?

Bekeme: I know

Caller: I don’t know. Are these people not ashamed to call themselves Nigerians? If you know my background, you will know why I am crying

Bekeme: Hmmm

Caller: I served as a Soldier oh. I am a soldier oh

Bekeme: Hmmm

Caller: I am a soldier as I am talking to you

Bekeme: Wow

Caller: What happened in Nigerian politics (Voice becomes inaudible)

Bekeme: Hmmmm

Caller: so, if Nigerians, is not a landmark

Bekeme: Hmmmm

Caller: Nigerians as Individuals are the best people, maybe in Nigeria, the best people on earth. The people. The people that every other tribe, every other (Voice becomes inaudible) on this planet self envy. Nigerians are the best when I was outside Nigeria

Bekeme: Hmmmm

Caller: Testimony of all (voice becomes inaudible)

Bekeme: Hmmmm Hmmmm

Caller: they are scholars. They are the best soldiers. They are the best police. They are the best athletes. Everything good on this planet, you will find Nigerians there

Bekeme: Yes

Caller: The worst people on earth are Nigerian politicians. Nigeria religious leaders, Nigerian traditional rulers, have failed God. If they make me president today my sister, to be candid, I will not pay traditional rulers. Nigerian traditional rulers is supposed to come up. Who will they be afraid of? They are supposed to come together and caution the government. Our children, why are destroying this country? And the so-called Nigerian religious leaders, what will they be afraid of if they protect God if they protect Jesus if they protect Allah. They have the power to come to say enough is enough. Incidentally, the vice president is a pastor

Bekeme: Hmmmm Hmmmm

Caller: (voice becomes inaudible) what is trying to do? What will he tell God? When Osinbajo dies today, what will he tell God? He knows that what is doing is not right. He knows that where he is, e is not representing God well.

Bekeme: (Laughs) Sorry, I had to laugh

Caller: Why do they behave like this?

Bekeme: (Still laughing) we can’t judge that one, Mr. Obed because we don’t know

Caller: (Interrupts) Do you know how many soldiers have lost their lives? Soldiers that are fighting, working hard to bring Nigeria together, and Buhari continue to put people that are not qualified to head this organization and people are dying. Children are dying. Elders are dying.

Bekeme: so, yes Mr. Obed, the problem is, we, that is the one thing I respect Governor Wike for. He is speaking up and saying no. this is not acceptable. The governors of the different states, eastern state, south-west state, south-south state, northern state, they all pretend that they cannot do anything. Like it’s all left to Federal Government.

Caller: it is not about south south, and southeast. Nigerian people are one oh. I vague for Nigeria as you see me. In arm green, soldier green, I vague for Nigeria my country (voice becomes inaudible)

Bekeme: You’ve done what for Nigeria?

Caller: I want to tell you, many people have talk and die and

Bekeme: Hmmmm

Caller: (voice becomes inaudible) Look at the governor of Benue State, has he not been talking? Is the resident not hearing him? Look at other people. Look at the Governor of Borno state, is not a good man? Look at Sanusi, the ex-governor of Central Bank

Bekeme: Hmmmm

Caller: (voice becomes inaudible)

Bekeme: Yes, there are these little pockets. Just little pockets

Caller: Yes, we know good people. Look at their station, look at their impartial

Bekeme: Yes

Caller: We are talking the truth. I am not happy, my sister. I am not happy.

Bekeme: Thank you Mr. Obed. I hear you. I hear you. You have a good reason, but your heart is in the right place. We can hear that

Caller: God will bless you, my sister. God bless you.

Bekeme: And bless you, sir

Caller: Have a nice day

Bekeme: Thank you, sir. You too sir

(Another call comes in)

Bekeme: Hello. It seems like Mr. Obed read my notes, you know?! Because that was the crux of the discussion. Hello!

Caller: Yes, good evening

Bekeme: Hello good evening, what’s your name, please?

Caller: My name is Comrade Anyawu

Bekeme: Comrade Anyawu, thank you for calling the Good Citizen show. What are your thoughts, is it a blessing or a curse?

Caller: Hmmm, before I answer that question, the last caller has made a good analysis. Has given a good analysis of what the situation is

Bekeme: Yes

Caller: is a blessing. Let me call it a blessing. I want to be very positive

Bekeme: Hmmmm

Caller: it’s a blessing. And it will be when each person, provided we will decide on our own say no to (voice becomes inaudible) people the destroying the country

Bekeme: Hmmm Hmmm

Caller: the people who are destroying the country are those who think that without them in our working nobody should get power. They are going to put someone in power so as to do their bidding, and that is not under democracy. So, the first caller has given you a rundown of what it is. I am married to a westerner, and I am from the East.

Bekeme: Okay

Caller: And I did my NYSC in Kaduna

Bekeme: Hmmmm

Caller: So, I have gone round alright.

Bekeme: Hmmmm Hmmmm

Caller: There is terrible cancer that the British people planted in this country, and that cancer is a tripartite arrangement, whereby 3 quarter of Nigeria, and from Oya, and from Nsukka, down to the north, sorry, down up to the north, tot the boundary of Niger and Chad

Bekeme: Hmmmm Hmmmm

Caller: should serve as Northern Nigeria. One third, one quarter rather of the landmass, they now call it south, that has been the origin of Nigeria’s challenge

Bekeme: and you know these challenges, they are surmountable, even within the constraints that we have.

Caller: That was exactly what that man was saying. That said we know this. Let me just cut it short. Abuja is the center of Nigeria, isn’t it?

Bekeme: Yes

Caller: You’re aware of that?

Bekeme: Hmmm Hmmm

Caller: Are you aware of that?

Bekeme: Yes sir! Yes sir!!

Caller: Good. So, if we accept that Abuja is the center of Nigeria (Voice becomes inaudible) the restructuring of Nigeria starts by, every territory that begins 5 degrees above Abuja is Northern Nigeria. Any territory that is 5 degrees below Abuja is Southern Nigeria

Bekeme: Yes, but the people who are supposed to take this action know the action, but they are not taking it sir though

Caller: The National Assembly they are not ready.

Bekeme: They are not ready. This is the problem. It’s not our diversity that is the problem but people who are benefitting from these things. That is why I hail governors who are speaking out speaking u basically.

Caller: Governors are speaking out, but the people who are supposed to make the law, refuse to do it

Bekeme: That is the problem

Caller: Specifically, it is just 1/100 heads of Nigeria’s population. 1 all over, there are less than 500, and see what they have turned Nigeria into, since 1960. It’s not just today oh. It’s been the same thing based on that tripartite arrangement, where 3 quarter of the landmass was given to the north as northern Nigerian, whereas the center of Nigeria starts from Nigeria.

Bekeme: But boss, think about it. Think about it, comrade. Think about the fact that these 3 quarters that we are talking about are not even happy. So, you can see that it’s a small group of people. So, you can see that it’s a small group of people. The way you see it, would someone just listening to this, would think, oh! these 3 quarter population, these 3 quarter part of the that was ceded to the north are just enjoying life, (voice becomes inaudible) basically. But that’s not the case. The case is that few people are taking advantage of this entity.

Caller: That’s right, yes. If they (voice becomes inaudible) that right, nobody is saying, like the first caller said, nobody cares about your tribe. Nobody cares about your religion. Is just that the politicians from that part of the country are saying that their religion, they must rule because of that.

Bekeme: That is why I feel terrible for the people of those states. 

Caller: Now listen, there is a way out there. Do you know that what is happening in the north is a revolution? it needs help

Bekeme: What is happening in Jos?

Caller: in the North.

Bekeme: Right, yes!

Caller: (voice becomes inaudible) Northeast is a revolution.

Bekeme: Yes, but

Caller: Can I give you a hint?

Bekeme: I am listening

Caller: Good. We have 61 years of independence, isn’t it?

Bekeme: Hmmm Hmmm

Caller: people from the north, so-called north according to the tripartite arrangement of the British

Bekeme: Hmmmm

Caller: Have ruled this country for 48 years, and their people are worst off it

Bekeme: Exactly

Caller: Uneducated. They are the poorest. They are the ones begging all over the place. They are cutting off their cut off mar for national unity schools

Bekeme: Exactly. So you see. Yes sir

Caller: Education in a disadvantaged state. Whereas they are the ones causing the education disadvantage stage. Boko Haram is there telling you; girl child education is illegal. It’s not Islamic. They tell you that once a girl gets to the age of 12, let her marry off.

Bekeme: and you know that this Boko Haram is still a minority, and these are looking for economic livelihood.

Caller: Yes

Bekeme: with leaders too

Caller: that’s the issue, so they want to maintain it to continue to bamboozle this country. If we don’t correct now, there won’t be any nation

Bekeme: Hmmmm

Caller: but me, someone like me know the origin.

Bekeme: Hmmmmm

Caller: the only way to start is to restructure this country, anyplace from 5 degrees up in northern Nigeria, and any place from 5-degree south is southern Nigeria. That ends the Nigeria case.

Bekeme: Thank you so much

Caller: Bye Bye

Bekeme: Thank you much sir. Thank you so much

I hear you, and I agree that restructuring is necessary in Nigeria, but the problem with Nigeria has always been Intention. I do believe that the structure we already have, we can work to our advantage because there are already laws that can help us to achieve so many things that we need to achieve. But there are people who do not want these things to work. People who are not speaking up. People in elected offices, people in appointments who are doing what they ought not to do.

(Call comes in)

Bekeme: Hello

Caller: Good evening mummy G. O.

Bekeme: Good evening. Thank you for calling the Good Citizen Show. What’s your name?

Caller: My name is Joseph calling from Alapere.

Bekeme: Thank you Joseph from Alapere. Ethnicity or Ethnic Diversity, Blessing or a curse? What do you think?

Caller: It’s a blessing

Bekeme: Amen

Caller: Now, my first point I will take is from End SARS. It is the best thing that ever happened in this country in the last decade, or in the new decade that we are still in, is that End SARS protest. Now, let me tell you, my heartfelt was one of the Fridays when the Muslims decide to pray, Christians formed a seal around them.

Bekeme: Hmmmm

Caller: They busted my brain.

Bekeme: Hmmmm

Caller: Now the political leaders are saying it is not possible for us to have that, but the younger generation has shown, they are not just saying it, they have shown that it is very possible. You understand?

Bekeme: Hmmm

Caller: They have shown that diversity is a blessing. It is never

Bekeme: It is

Caller: It is never a curse

Bekeme: Humm Hmmm

Caller: God created us to be different, and it shows that, just as our body parts are different, the eyes cannot say I don’t need the legs

Bekeme: Hmmmm. Word! Word!!

Caller: we have needs for each other. I am from Akwa Ibom. My wife is from Kogi

Bekeme: Hmmmm

Caller: so

Bekeme: We are marrying from the same state.

(Both laughs)

Caller: So, for as far as I am concerned, we need to do away with the old and let the young, the elite take over. That’s my admonition.

Bekeme: Thank you

Caller: we are tire of these old people that are backward thinking, and let the people with forward-thinking

Bekeme: I just hope that

Caller: Thank you very much

I just hope that the young people that will get on board do not think like the old people, because sometimes, I don’t think it’s age. Hmmm, if I look back at my life, and I think of the fact that I went to a unity school, and I think about my group, my school’s group, we talk about any and everything. We can talk about any tribe, any religion without anybody feeling offended by it because we came together with young. Because this thing has been together for years.

And talking about me, and what we wanted to flag off, I come from Edo state. My Father is Edo. My mother is Igbo from Anambra state. I married to a man from Kogi state. My mother grew up in the north, in the heart of Sokoto. Kogi state is right in the middle belt, and they call them North central. Humm, I grew up in Lagos. I have been in Lagos all my life. And all of these things make me who I am. They are what make me the sum total of who I am.

I had a conversation just before I came on the show with an international client in North America, and when I was talking to them about the opportunities for indigenous engagement, he appreciated the fact that I understood diversity. This is what makes us Nigerians. This is what makes us great.

Thank you so much to our contributors on the Good Citizen Show. See you next week Friday as we continue these important conversations around Nigeria’s growth

It’s been Bekeme. Take care. God bless, and see you next week Friday

Bye Bye.

 

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