By Adewale Adeleke
First, permit me to start by paraphrasing the opening lines of Leo Tolstoy’s 1878 classic, Anna Karanina.
All happy families are alike.
All former colonies are alike.
All unhappy families are unhappy in their own (unique) way.
All former colonies are unique in their respective composition of motley ethnic groups.
Now to Moghalu’s otherwise brilliant piece. He wrote, We need national reconciliation. Nigeria needs healing and peaceful co-existence of its motley ethnic groups joined together by the British without our consent but nevertheless a legal reality under the international doctrine of _uti passedetis. We are not unique in this regard. Other countries were colonized too, and many of them are doing well today, thank you. They built their nations and moved on from the past, focused now on achieving glorious futures.
Very brilliant and astute analysis.
However, like many, the author fell short where he declared that there is nothing unique about the colonial experience of Nigeria, which, in his words, is a country comprised of motley ethnic groups.
Indeed, it is the composition of the motley ethnic groups forced to be one country that makes the Nigeria situation unique, indeed.
Unlike any other country, which emerged from colonialism, there is no dominant ethnic group in Nigeria.
Some examples. In Ghana, the Asantis are the dominant ethnic group, in terms of sheer numbers. In the United Kingdom, it’s the English. In India, the Indo-Aryan ethnic group is 72%, the dominant language is Hindi. In Singapore, ethnic Chinese. The list goes on ad infinitum. I am yet to come across a former colony, in which there is not a predominant ethnic (religious) group. By predominant, I am not talking, dominant, but predominant, where there is little dispute about who has the advantage of number.
In Nigeria, there is no predominant ethnic group. This leads to mutual ethnic rivalry and suspicion of ethnic domination, and invariably turns politics into an exercise in ethnic preservation. Thus ethnicity ranks above merit in public affairs.
One way to mitigate the elevation of ethnic considerations over and above merit, is to decentralize power, access to the commonwealth, by making the center, which in theory belongs to everybody regardless of ethnicity to have less resources, and make the regions have significant control of resources within their region.
What we have been doing so far is stripping ethnic-resources of their ethnic origins and transferring them to theoretically ethnic agnostic center.
Our current resource management model is nothing short of asset stripping and an ill informed social engineering experiment in monkey dey work in the regions, baboon dey chop in the center.
It is no wonder that everybody wants to be a baboon, even a monkey would do everything to claim to be a baboon in such a dystopia.
The solution is to stop the pretense of theoretical ethnic agnostic centralized resources mismanagement and adopt a more practical model in which the ethnic groups manage their resources.
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