Home Business News Random Reflections With Okafor C. Udoka: State Of Origin: An Impediment?

Random Reflections With Okafor C. Udoka: State Of Origin: An Impediment?


“In less than 200 years, this great country, USA, was welded together by people of so many different backgrounds. They built a mighty nation and had forgotten where they came from and who their ancestors were. They had pride in only one thing —their US citizenship. I am a changed man from today. Until now I never really believed we could be one united country. But if the Americans could do it, so can we.” – Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, 1955

Nigeria is a nation of God with great promises. We have all it takes to compete with the world economic powers as we are abundantly blessed by providence to shine and provide leadership to Africa, nay the world. 

It was our founding projection, in 1960, that we will eliminate extreme poverty in our society by creating a structure that will be fair to all. Also our founding fathers had the dreams of a society with effective security system even as true Federalism will propel how we are governed. They nurtured dreams of steady power supply which would drive our industries and economy. 

With due respect to all these and other high hopes, they voted for mechanization of our agricultural sector, and selective investment in education, science, technology, healthcare, infrastructure and engineering to make our country an economic power in the world. They also wanted to build a country that cares for the environment and its people through housing and social welfare packages.

Almost fifty-four years after Independence, we are yet to leave our starting point though we can confidently beat our chest that Nigeria is a work in progress. Indeed fifty-four years is enough in the life of a nation to point at some sterling achievements and hope for a better tomorrow. While we may all agree that our continuous unity is a great feat of pride, can we sincerely say that we have arrived the “take-off” stage of our socio-economic and political development?

In 2014 while we should be engaged in a robust debate to elect a President that will steer the ship of the state to El dorado, we are faced with debate of zoning and power rotation, marginalisation, defection, etc. And as such, we are getting more disunited by the day as we have never been in history; it is now timely we debate the desirability of State of Origin as a provision in our constitution.

Elsewhere I had opined that the Government of Nigeria impels a sense of tribalism in us all. By tribalism, I mean healthily electing to protect anything from our place of origin. If indeed the Federal Government of Nigeria uses State of origin as a basis for sharing and distribution federal resources, patronage and offices why should we urge continence, if not caution, in the man who says he is Yoruba before being a Nigerian?

Most recently, some had coined the word “credibility” in politics as a word to be used to knock out those who their fathers asked them never to allow to ascend politically while others view the word credibility as an instrument of oppression just like tribalism is loosely used to make them feel inferior.

Frankly, I’m yet to understand why an Okafor who was born in Kano should not use Kano as his State or why an Ekpo who lives and works in Lagos must write Akwa Ibom as his state of origin any time he wants to transact business with the government. 

Similarly it beats me hollow that a Kelechi who was born, nurtured and lives in Aba must look toward Imo State when he wants to seek political office; this also applies to a Valentine Osagie whose name could easily be deleted from Borno State scholarship list not considering the fact that he sees himself as a Borno man

In the struggle for Independence, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe preached one Nigeria and urged us to forget our differences but the great Ahmadu Bello insisted that the recognition of our difference in tribe, tongue and creed would make us a healthier nation. 

In a way, I do not know who history has proven right between Zik and Bello but I certainly guess that the ‘cross-carpeting’ on the floor of Western Regional Assembly in 1951 which denied NCNC the privilege of forming government there really dealt a dirty blow on our collective attempt in collapsing our differences.

It might interest you to be reminded that Alhaji Umoru Altine from Sokoto and Dr Bashorun Balogun from Ogun emerged mayors of Port Harcourt and Enugu respectively under the first republic in domains largely Igbo; and at that time too, an Ebube Dike graciously served in the Western House of Assembly.

The issue of State of origin polarizes more than it unites us. Ordinarily, Mama Nkechi who shares a shop apartment with Mama Kayode at Balogun Market, Lagos, gives no thought of their background. Similarly another Ahmed who lives with Alabi in a flat apartment in Yenegoa has no quarrel with the religion of Ahmed, what matters to them is that they are running the AA ticket. 

Another Femi who serves with Emeka and Danjuma in the blighted town of Sabon-Gari, Kano state, has no issues with the tongue of his fellow corps members. What matters to them all is that they are all Nigerians and must live in unity to achieve their individual and group interests.

History tells us that we had no Caesar, be it Augustine or Julius, neither were we blessed with the experience of “russification” of Eastern Europe to chisel Nigeria into one along with communality as was the common stamp of Greco-Roman Civilization. But in time, we can elect to be Suhto who employs the positive elements of the society to alter cultures and on whose values the vestiges of the conquering Arga Khan were altered for good and empires of goodwill built.

We can easily ignore our differences in tribe, tongue and creed through orientation and re-orientation to build a better Nigeria if we deal with naughty issues such as state of origin, tribal interest, marginalization, leadership, etc. 

Whether we like it or not, the issue of state of origin must be debated and resolved in the best interest of Nigeria as it sometimes leads to ethnocentrism; the more we shy away from it, the greater the disservice to Nigeria.

At this juncture, we should be more concerned about the Project Nigeria than 2015 and our respective candidates or political interests. 2015 will surely come and go, but Project Nigeria will never die and it is ours to build it. 

Let us therefore rise up to this challenge that threatens our nationhood and cohesion, let us constitute a vanguard that will pressurize the NASS to legislate State of origin out of existence by replacing it with State of Residence as we continue in our struggle to build a Nigeria we shall all bequeath posterity with all sense of pride and accomplishment.

This is one my own thoughts for a strong, united and prosperous Nigeria. What is yours?

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