Home Opinion On ethnicity, religion and politics; By Leonard Karshima Shilgba

On ethnicity, religion and politics; By Leonard Karshima Shilgba


None of us chose our ethnicity, but we all often choose our religion and politics according to our convictions, interests, or whatever extraneous motivations. In Nigeria, we have more than 200 ethnic groups and several more dialects.
Having been placed in your ethnicity by divinity, it is inappropriate to use just it as a negotiation tool. It is just like a harlot using her natural endowment for money. That is obscene! All politics based on ethnicity is primitive, crude, and without deep enduring roots.

In politics, which is the art of acquiring influence or power to share resources among people within a community or society, the best currency is called “political capital”, which is denominated by political support or the number of votes offered to a political party (vehicle for election, leadership selection, and governance) or a candidate in an election. If a constituency, district, region, or ethnic group withholds the winning or significant votes from a party or candidate, it is unfair, unjust, and misleading to reward it over and above the constituency, district, region, or ethnic group which has borne the heat and burden of victory. Any argument to the contrary is illogical. Elections, they say, have consequences.

I have heard people request that the Tinubu government should be a “government of national unity”. I wonder if we have ever had a central government in Nigeria since 1999 that was not a “government of national unity”. Section 147 (3) of the Nigerian Constitution provides that in appointing ministers in his or her cabinet, “the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each State, who shall be an indigene of such State.” I ask, is this provision not tantamount to a statutory requirement that the federal government be a “government of national unity”, or the proponents have a different meaning in mind?
Nigerians need to familiarise themselves with representative democracy and elective politics. Elections are meant to be won and lost. When you lose, you don’t tear the house down; and when you win, realize that public trust has been laid upon your shoulders to offer good governance focused on welfare and security of the people.
Secondly, political power is not donated, and neither is it meant to. Groups (including ethnic groups) must have the right strategies, make profitable alliances, and frame messaging for the variegated groups (demographic, economic, etc.) in the society. When you fail, do an analysis to find out where and how you got it wrong, and prepare for next time. However, doing things the same way, and expecting a different outcome is akin to insanity. The Holy Scriptures say that, “The foolishness of man perverts his way: and his heart frets against the LORD.”

In Nigeria, we must learn to tell the unembellished truth to people. Everyone and group must reap what they sowed. How reasonable is it for a group which refuses to recognise the candidate of the political party that has won a presidential election to make demands of that same party regarding “sharing of political offices”? Every political choice creates an opportunity cost. Let me openly address the issue of President of Senate of Nigeria. From my reading, it may be zoned to either the South-South or South-East geopolitical zones. In terms of votes, it is a fact that the South-South region gave the APC far more votes than the South-East zone did. Those who view the South-East’s unprecedented stinginess (APC got the fewest votes from the region since its founding) as ethnic bias against the APC are at liberty to hold such perception just like those who believe that the South-South zone should be rewarded for their votes for the APC. If certain persons are averse to zoning the Senate President to the South-South, let them tell that to the South-South, who have never occupied that position since 1999. Let them give a just reason why the South-South, which laboured for the APC, should not be rewarded with the number three position in our federation. And if the APC chooses to bypass the South-South, what message would the party be sending regarding its disposition toward loyalty to it? There are over 200 other ethnic groups in Nigeria which could also make claims to “marginalisation”. We should not reduce our politics to placating ethnic groups who can shout the loudest, “marginalisation, marginalization!” Rather, we must build a reward system which recognises persons and groups that can show the extra talents that they have obtained on the ones entrusted to them. “Take the one talent from the unfaithful servant, and give it to him that has the most,” is the appropriate decree. I would suggest that the position of National Chairman of APC should be zoned to the South-East to see how popular the party can be made in the zone under the leadership of such chairman.The hypocrisy of certain religious folks in Nigeria is nauseating. Politics is found everywhere there is human relationship and interaction. We find it in the church and other religious circles, the family, in business, in schools and colleges, etc. With all of your endowments, get wisdom. Learn how to win trust, build bridges, and cultivate vision. Throwing tantrums, threats, and invectives will only alienate you from the table.©Shilgba

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