Are You A Citizen of Nigeria or Merely A Settler?

by Paul I. Adujie

Again, another carnage has occurred. Again, Nigerians were busily maiming and murdering Nigerians

Again, it must be clear that there are other carnage waiting to happen. Again, it will not be a happy event, but, it will recur nevertheless.

Again, there are no real solutions in sight, nonetheless, recurrence of vengeance and revenge and a continuation of these murderous cycle looms in the horizon, just ahead of us

Again, these recurrences are so predictably routine, because there have been not certainty of punishment and worse, there have been a focus on the symptoms of this disease instead of the causes or pathogens.

Again, there will be the usual silly cosmetic superficial, ad hoc and time wasting reactive-perfunctory deceitful palliatives, driven by expedient ineptitude and motivated by fear

Again, political charlatan, Christian charlatans, Muslim charlatans and ethnic charlatans etc, will engage in nonsense discussions and punditry, regarding the unnecessarily magnified distinctions, differences and dichotomies between the “indigenes” and the “settlers” Berom and the Fulani and the Hausa and the “Southerners” and “Northerners” all these persons with different appellations and labels, who are really nothing more than what they really are, Nigerian citizens! And it is that easy and so simple

And yet, future carnage similar to the now very mundane and routine slaughters of Nigerians by fellow Nigerians in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria will repeat and recur in Jos, in Bauchi, in Maiduguri and pretty much anywhere else in Nigeria’s 774 Local Government Areas, unless of course, precise actions are taken by Nigeria’s political leadership, at all strata and levels of government, and that is, at the local, state and federal.

Political, religious and ethnic opportunists have always exploited the mutual suspicions between Nigerians who are in abject poverty, in hardship, desperation shared in common by the average Nigerian regardless of ethnicity, religion, region and linguistic groups. When I think of the human condition in Nigeria, I think of a purpose beyond myself and my immediate personal life, a purpose, a common purpose for us all. But, I often wonder how or what a majority of Nigeria’s political, business, religious and cultural leader feel about patriotism and nationalism, Nigerians, Nigeria?

Nigerians should be forthright and upfront in denouncing those who frequently exploit benign ethnic, religious and regional differences among citizens of Nigeria to serve the selfish interests of a few.

Ultimately, the issues which are the root causes of what has now become the routine carnage in Jos, must be addressed. And these issues primarily remains the fluidity of Nigerian citizenship. The definition of citizenship of Nigeria and the enforcement of full citizenship rights remains very fluid and in flux.

Mutual suspicions amongst, and between Nigerians of our various national component parts, between our diverse ethnic, religious, linguistic groups is the bane of our development and sundry national challenges. It is common knowledge, public knowledge, that national important issues crucial to our national development, progress, advancement and greatness of nation, are debated through the vagaries of negative denominators. Our national direction therefore remains concave, opaque , confused and convoluted.

Debates of national issues, are too often slanted, colored and skewed and seen, through deceptive prisms of ethnic, religious, regional and linguistic loyalties, and as a consequence, Nigeria is loses the benefit of our superb intellect in problem solving.

Nigerians continue to pretend as if unemployment is not a national issue? And as if unsteady electricity supply and noising from noisy generators is not a national problem by way of environmental pollution and fiscal and financial stresses? And corruption has not religion, ethnic group or language group, corruption is not even a Nigerian word! Nigerians seem to continue to pretend that the poor state of our public infrastructure is ethnic? And that inadequate funding for Nigeria’s health care system and the education sectors are regional problems, even when Mr. Umaru Musa YarAdua and prominent Nigerians from all regions, religions and ethnicity, frequently seek medical care overseas? Even when Nigerian parents from all geographic zones frequently send their children overseas as our schools go deprived of resources?

Mutual suspicious among and between Nigerians, and the devaluation of the worthiness of the fullness the citizenship of fellow Nigerians based on ethnicity, religion, region and linguistic group differences, is the reason why Nigerians currently endure political and constitutional crises, regarding Mr. Umaru Musa YarAdua’s where-about, condition of health physically-mentally, and his continued fitness and suitableness to continue as our national symbol and president of our nation and conversely, whether his replacement as constitutionally mandated, becomes and or, is interpreted as a usurpation of a “turn” but when will it be the “turn” of Nigerians and Nigeria? The turn to serve Nigeria national interests?

Nigeria is a plural, secular, multicultural, multi-religious, multi-regional and multilingual nation and as a result, it is crucial to always emphasize and stress the importance of national unity in our diversities, diversities which is a source for potential greatness of our nation. There should be healthy competition for the allocation of resources, undertaken without marginalization of any component part of Nigeria.

I have in the past, and, on several occasions, argued that the definition and redefinition of Nigerian citizenship is the root cause of mutual suspicion and conflicts in Nigeria. These carnage to which have now become routine, are culminations of mutual suspicious and conflicts, which arises from the unnecessarily loose definition and enforcement of full citizenship rights for Nigerians.

In my view, lasting and enduring solution to mutual suspicions and conflicts culminating in violence and carnage, is the definition of full Nigerian citizenship, which must be valid and have constitutional and legal enforcement in all of the 774 Local Government Areas of Nigeria, including the 36 federating states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria.

It is rather simplistic and disingenuous to blame religious intolerance or ethnic hatred or anything else, including the quality of the air in Jos, the flowers or Shere Hills or Hilltop breezes of the plateau as reasons why Nigerians of various background are now frequently at each others’ throats.

It must be realized that these mutual suspicions and conflicts are not peculiar to Jos. These mutual suspicions and conflicts are present everywhere in Nigeria and in the past, have reared their ugly heads with deathly murderous consequences.

Nigeria, to end internecine conflagrations, must ensure a definition, a redefinition of the meaning of full citizenship. What does it mean to be a full citizen of Nigeria? What is my citizenship worth outside of the home state of my parents and grandparents and great grandparents? And what if my mother is from Kaduna and my father is from Nnewi?

Nigeria will need to abolish the nonsense dichotomies and unnecessary emphasis usually placed on a Nigerian citizen’s state of origin. There need to be a better determination of citizenship and it should be limited to a set of criteria which determines full Nigerian citizenship and so long a citizen is determined to be constitutionally and legally a Nigerian, her citizenship should and must be afforded and accorded equal protection, full faith and credit throughout Nigeria.

What is the use of a national currency which does not command equal respect as a common legal tender throughout such nation? Nigerians can imagine a situation in which our national currency the Naira, varies in value across local government areas and across state

lines, and across ethnic and religious divisions!

And yet, that is exactly how Nigerian citizenship is currently treated, regarded and disregarded and devalued, depending on multiple variables of our ethnic, religious, linguistic and other variables of our national diversities in Nigeria!

Why is it, that a majority of Nigerians cannot see the illogicality and idiocy, in regarding an Hausa-Fulani person who has lived in Jos for 100 years, and this Hausa-Fulani person, whose great grand parents have also lived in Jos, being labeled and in fact, castigated with the offensive appellation of “settler”?

Why is it, that a majority of Nigerians cannot see the illogicality and idiocy, in regarding a Berom person who has lived Kano for 100 years, and this Berom person, whose great grand parents have also lived in Kano, being labeled and in fact, castigated with the offensive appellation of “settler”?

Why is it, that a majority of Nigerians cannot see the illogicality and idiocy, in regarding a Igbo person who has lived Kaduna for 100 years, and this Igbo person, whose great grand parents have also lived in Kaduna, being labeled and in fact, castigated with the offensive appellation of “settler”?

And why is it that a majority of Nigerians are not publicly condemning the present situation in Nigeria, in which an Hausa-Fulani lady must be made to feel like less than a Nigerian because she lives in Shagamu?

And why is it that a majority of Nigerians are not publicly condemning the present situation in Nigeria, in which an Yoruba lady must be made to feel like less than a Nigerian because she lives in Maiduguri?

And why is it that a majority of Nigerians are not publicly condemning the present situation in Nigeria, in which an Igbo lady must be made to feel like less than a Nigerian because she lives in Ibadan?

Why should an Hausa-Fulani, Igbo, Yoruba person etc feel inferior or unsafe anywhere in Nigeria, based on her ethnic or linguistic group and unsafe, merely because she or her great grand parents relocated from the area in Nigeria where her ethnic and language group is predominant?

Why are we surprised when these lopsidedness in the fleeting value and importance of full Nigerian citizenship changes from town to town, from state to state, from region to region, from religion to religion and from language group to language group etc?

Why are Nigerians acting surprised whenever these mutual suspicions, and conflicts, violence and carnage surface and resurface routinely, as they do in Nigeria?

Why is it that we seem, as if in self-deceits and delusions, we pretend to address the symptoms instead of the root causes of our national disease inherent in the devaluing of the citizenship of fellow Nigerians? Why do we devalue the full citizenship and Nigerian-ness of fellow Nigerians based on their heritage, religion or linguistic group and then, we proceed to assume all will be well?

Why is it, that we are clearly aware of these dichotomies, disparities, lopsidedness and diminutions of full citizenship of fellow Nigerians, based solely, on their travel patterns across our national geographic space and across our land and yet, we are shocked and stunned when the consequences of these discrimination and segregation, seething for generations and leading to more seething rages, then finally boils to the surface and into full-blown carnage, violence and warfare?

Permanent solution to these segregation and discrimination and their attendant violent consequences, which now routinely boils to the surface, is to ensure that all citizens of Nigeria feel equal value, equal benefit, equal protection and equal entitlements under the constitution and the laws of Nigeria, wherever a Nigerian citizen may be or may travel and may chose to live, work or vacation throughout Nigeria, regardless of such Nigerian’s ethnic, religion, regional or linguistic group or heritage.

This equal value and equal benefit of full citizenship for all Nigerians, will enhance labor mobility and promote and advance the right to travel, which are currently limited and or compromised by the realization of the devaluation of Nigerian citizenship across state lines, ethnic lines, regional lines, religious lines or linguistic lines. Why should Nigerian full citizenship lose value with movements or travels?

Solutions to carnage and preventing future revenges, vendettas and vengeance, requires rapid responses in apprehending culprits, subjecting offenders and the guilty to full extent of the law by way of punishments and penalties. And additionally, providing compensation and relief to the displaced and dislocated and then, engage in the full measure, of enthroning equal value and benefits of full citizenship to all Nigerians thorough Nigeria, even if such Nigerians are nomadic and are liable to move and relocate from the nooks and crannies of Nigeria often and frequently, whether as herdsmen, traders or middle class professionals.

A Nigerian citizen from anywhere in Nigeria, should vote and be voted for nationwide! A qualified Nigerian who meets all constitutional and legal requirements, and determined by the electorate to be suitable, should be able to seek any public office throughout Nigeria, regardless her religious, ethnic, regional and linguistic origins or such other multiple variables of her parents, grandparents and great grandparents! After all, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California is not an American born, he was born in Austria, arrived America as an adult, and he is now the governor of America’s most populated state with 35 million people and with an economy, the fifth largest in the world! So, why can’t Abubakar be the elected civilian governor of Anambra state, and Bola the elected governor of Katsina state and Chima be elected of Oyo state respectively? So long as they are competent, qualified and suitable persons

Being a citizen of Nigeria and being Nigerian, should carry equal value, benefits, entitlements, rights , duties, obligations, responsibilities and protections for all Nigerians throughout the world, more particularly, throughout Nigeria. Nigerians should stop treating “other” Nigerians as if the “other” Nigerians are required to have visas, work-permits and import-licenses, in order to travel, work or do business across ethnic, religious, regional and linguistic lines

The time to define, redefine and enforce full citizenship for all Nigerians is now.

Please Google other similar articles listed below by the same author

1. Nigerian Citizenship Should be Redefined
Published in June 2004

2. Nigerian Citizenship Should Be Redefined NOW!
Published in August 2009

3. Those Hausa People! Those Igbo People Those Yoruba People! Etc
Published in June 2009

4. The Benefits of Nigerian Unity And Perils of Disintegration
Published in 2003

5. Nigeria Advances Or Ethnic Warriors Terrorist Prevails
Published in 2009

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