In trying to give a fairly different response to Professor Wole Soyinka who had supported Obasanjo’s opinion that indeed, “Nigeria has become more divided than ever before”, the presidency has offered a rejoinder.
In his reply, Femi Adesina, Buhari’s chief spokesman acknowledged that Wole Soyinka, the Nobel Laureate is an eminent , highly respected global icon. Nonetheless, he said Soyinka’s views should not be swallowed, hook, line and sinker. To Adesina, Nigeria had always been divided. “Right from amalgamation in 1914, Nigeria has always been divided. There is no time in the history of this country that Nigeria was not divided”, he said. According to him, President Muhammad Buhari inherited a terribly divided county, one which he has been trying to unite since he came to power in 2015.
Adesina has merely stated the obvious in his reply, without necessarily addressing the issue, or adding anything new. Every multi-ethnic and multi-religious country is naturally divided. In fact, not many countries are so structurally monolithic as to escape this natural tendency. But when deliberate policies and laws are made or sponsored to exacerbate this natural division, the unity and unification of such a country may be at stake. When in appointments and promotions it is clear that one group is favoured against the others, division is being entrenched. When you allow armed private business people from one ethnic group to dispossess, kill and maim fellow citizens from other areas with impunity, you are dividing the country.
In spite of Nigeria’s diversities, there has always been shared respect and freedom to associate with people of other groups, in politics, education, business and social life. But not any more. There is palpable fear and tension in the land, as if something cataclysmic is about to happen. That, to me, is Obasanjo’s worry, reechoed by Soyinka as truly the people’s fears.
John Daniel Obioma.