2023 Election: O Ye Supporters, Tone Down The Tribal Rhetoric!

As the 2023 election draws closer, there has been a significant rise in rhetoric focusing on tribal differences among many Nigerians, this portends no good!

2023 Election: O Ye Supporters, Tone Down The Tribal Rhetoric!
2023 Election: O Ye Supporters, Tone Down The Tribal Rhetoric!

The politics of affinity is not exclusive to Nigeria and while many advanced nations portray this in relation to right or left-leaning ideologies, it is mostly restricted to tribal and religious sentiments in this part of the world. Nigeria boasts over 350 tribes with diverse languages and cultures. The ‘Us vs Them’ rhetoric however roars loudest during the electioneering periods. The political actors and their major supporters have been guilty of fanning the embers of discord based on tribal differences. In most cases, such rhetoric by the major players is not direct but their supporters throw caution in the wind and place these differences in the centre. At times, one wonders if they wish to have a united country to rule over after the elections.

It is safe to say Nigeria is a country of indigenes where the innermost loyalty of many lies with their tribe. This has in turn resulted in a divisive form of politics of ethno-geographic and religious identity that is being championed by elites across the country to the detriment of national development. The only unifying quality many Nigerians share across tribes is the effect of bad governance the country has been subjected to in the past. The beneficiaries of these identity politics are the political class. William Shakespeare ‘credits’ the gods as being the architect of our fate when he said, through the character of Gloucester in his drama text ‘King Lear’, “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; They kill us for their sport. This could be contextualised to the Nigerian political space judging by how the political elites have successfully used the tribal card to sway the Nigerian populace. They are the gods while the electorates are the wanton boys, the tribe- the flies.

The tribal differences inherent in the country have been so foregrounded in recent times that no day goes by without tribal-related raucous on the country’s social media space. Three of the main political parties are all enmeshed in one tribal-related conflict or the other. The ship of the Peoples Democratic Party is being paddled on stormy water and the discord keeps getting unsolvable. The reason for this? The party wants a person of southern extraction as its National Chairman as against the northerner who holds the seat. The ‘new’ Labour Party is not free from its crisis too over the ‘sectional’ composition of its campaign council members. In the words of the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Arambabi Abayomi, “We are not involved in Okupe’s mischievous political shenanigans. That is not the party’s programme. “He ’t be talking about our party, our party all the time. Which party? Is he the leader of LP now to announce himself as the DG? It’s an anomaly. Who announced the DG of Atiku? The party did it. When unveiled his DG, the party did it. Where is Peter Obi? Okupe doesn’t know what he is doing. I want to be quoted. The DG ought to go to the Northeast or North-Central. We are not a sectional political party. Our presidential candidate is pan-Nigerian. How can we have a presidential candidate from the South and the Campaign DG is coming from the same South.”

In as much as there is a need for the inclusion of all in the governance of the country, the centrality given to tribal affinity ahead of National development has placed the country on the wrong foot. We need to tone down the tribal rhetoric! The 2023 election in Nigeria has already been preceded by unprecedented tribal colouration as evident on the various social media platforms. It is never too late to break the shackles of this ‘tribal captivity’ engineered by the politicians’ Machiavelian traits. The solution to this is not far-fetched. The Nigerian populace should deconstruct the current elite consensus of divide-and-rule, leading to a people’s consensus guided by the self-enlightened realisation that we are one people, irrespective of our varied ethno-geographic individual identification.

Let’s ruminate on this reported ‘conversation between two Nigerian Nationalists, former President Nnamdi Azikwe and former Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello:

Chief Nnamdi Azikwe: “Let us forget our differences….”

Sir Ahmadu Bello: “No, let us understand our differences. I am a Muslim and a Northerner. You are a Christian, an Easterner. By understanding our differences, we build unity in our country.”

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