|Sunday, March 14, 2021|
Pontifical Urban University, Vatican City (Rome)
or days now, Nigeria's political landscape has been awash with the euphemism of "multiculturalism and diversity as strength." Some 'drivers' of Nigeria's political debate and even a handful of Western foreign diplomats serving in the country, recently mounted a serious campaign, extolling the usual Nigerian version of multiculturalism and diversity as strength.
For them, the only viable solution that could end the country's age-long political impasse - political instability, lopsided government, ethnic-hate, religious bigotry, discrimination, exclusion, corruption, leadership of mediocrity and incompetence, as well as poverty, backwardness and underdevelopment, is for Nigeria to embrace, the ideology of multiculturalism and diversity as strength, as a political option.
They argue that it is only by embracing that type of multiculturalism and diversity as strength, that Nigeria, composed of different ethnic-nationalities with divergent conflicting value systems, different cultures, languages, religions, in fact, different visions of philosophy of life, worldviews, and sad history of the genocidal Nigeria-Biafra War (1967-1970), could function better as a nation-state?
Those who subscribe to this idea of multiculturalism and diversity as strength in the Nigerian context, also say that it is the only political option capable of ending the perennial radical Islamists' terrorism and the current problem of insecurity of lives and property, besetting the country!
However, for me, many of those who subscribe to this idea of "multiculturalism and diversity as strength" in the context of Nigeria, are missing the mark! This is because, as we speak, and as it is now clear to every Tom, Dick and Harry, the problem with Nigeria has gone beyond the usual clamor for a new political ideology or system, to continue with the business as usual!
Today, as never before, every indigenous ethnic nationality, logged together in this British contraption, called Nigeria, is facing one major problem, namely, 'the struggle for survival' as a people seeking self-determination and freedom, to secure the lives and property of their people, trapped in this bloodsucking Nigerian state. This is the major problem disturbing the heart and soul of any relatively conscious citizen of this British colonial, created African nation state, called Nigeria.
Furthermore, if after sixty years of political independence from Britain, and Nigeria as a nation state, has not been able to come to terms with a viable political system and structure, as a way forward, it means that something is wrong somewhere! That the ruling class and elites in the country are afraid of telling themselves the truth about the problem with Nigeria!
Again, if after sixty years of political independence, bloodletting, ethnic-cleansings, Islamists' terrorism, political instability and general insecurity of lives and property, have continued to be on daily increase in the country, it means that the solution to Nigeria's problem is neither multiculturalism nor diversity as strength. Furthermore, in an abnormal nation state, like Nigeria created through colonial fiat, the problem with the country is neither political 'restructuring' nor 'rotational-presidency', as being championed by some people in the country today!
Only those who have something to gain from this abnormal, colonial political foundation of Nigeria, are the ones pushing for political restructuring, rotational-presidency, and now, projecting 'multiculturalism and diversity as strength', as a way forward for the country. Such people, however, know, within themselves, that they are not sincere, but rather are playing to the gallery, for their selfish ends. Some of them, simply, want only to sound politically correct!
This is because, in our Nigerian context, if truth, be told, multiculturalism or diversity, can only be a strength, under one condition. Where a group of independent nation states that, may for example, emerge from the country, if divided today according to major regional lines, that is, after peaceful separation as independent nation states, freely, decide on their own accord, to relate among themselves, as an "economic-community" of neighboring African nation states, within the ECOWAS' West African sub-region. It is only in such a situation that the talk about promoting multiculturalism and diversity as strength makes sense.
Example is the European Union and the ECOWAS itself. Although the existing colonial trappings propelling ECOWAS' member-states, just as the Nigerian case, is the major reason that West African sub-regional economic community is yet to function properly.
All this implies that multiculturalism and diversity as strength can only function as desired, within the context of economic-community of regional neighboring independent nation states, like European Union or ECOWAS. These neighboring nation states decide, on their own to cooperate among themselves, purely for reasons of promoting economic cooperation, movements of persons and goods within their region, but always, as separate independent nation states. Not as one nation-state!
This is the real meaning of multiculturalism and diversity as strength in its original sense. First, in the context of economic regional cooperation of neighboring independent nation states. It is from there, we can deduce also the meaning of multiculturalism and diversity as strength in the context of each independent nation states.
In this latter case, for example, that is, multiculturalism and diversity as strength as it applies to an independent nation state, may be explained as follows. Each independent nation state, even if a member state of an economic community like ECOWAS, in this case, continues to maintain its territorial integrity, and protect its interest as an independent nation state. Each nation state protects its own frontiers, welfare and security of its citizens, and has its own constitution and laws of the land, binding on its citizens and on any foreigner or visitor coming to live in that country. Any foreigner or visitor coming to stay or live in any independent nation state has to follow and obey the law of that state. Those seeking citizenship swear an allegiance to the constitution of such a state.
The constitutional provisions and the laws of an independent nation state, which governs how it treats foreigners living or visiting that country, is what defines how open such a nation state is to multiculturalism and diversity as strength. It is not the other way round. Multiculturalism and diversity as strength is never about how the citizens of the same nation, who constitute majority population of their nation state as one people, relate among themselves. Rather it is about how open the social system operative in such a nation state is accommodating or accepting foreigners coming to live or visit the country.
This is the real meaning of multiculturalism and diversity as strength. Firstly, as it applies to nation states of a regional economic-community. Secondly, as it applies to an independent nation state, founded on the shared common value system and philosophy of life of majority of the people that inhabit that particular nation state. This is because, each independent nation state is supposed to be founded on the people's shared cultural affinity, worldview, value system, philosophy of life, religious beliefs, language and culture, which majority of the people who inhabit such a nation state and are indigenous to it, share as a distinct people.
Furthermore, with regard to sub-continental regional economic communities such as European Union or ECOWAS, there are also provisions in the membership Accord of each regional economic community, which permits any member state that may decide to opt out of the economic community at any given time, to do so willingly, without coercion. This is what has recently happened with regard to Great Britain exiting European Union (EU).
Moreover, members of sub-regional economic communities do not admit any neighboring nation state into its fold, which does not share the same basic value systems, cultural affinity, philosophy of life or religious beliefs, worldview, civilization and political vision of societal organization, e.g., liberal democracy, as with the rest of member states. This is why a country like Turkey has been applying for years to become a member nation state of European Union, but the EU member States have continued to refuse to admit it into its fold. This is in spite of the fact that Turkey shares geographical proximity as a Mediterranean Sea coastal country with the rest of Western European countries of EU.
The fact remains that, Turkey, as seen by many in Western Europe, is basically, an Arab and Islamic country. Although, a progressively modern Muslim nation state, yet, Turkey, as a nation state, is founded not on Western European worldview, civilization and philosophy of life, but rather on Arab Islamic worldview, value system, philosophy of life, culture, religious and political vision that are based on those Arab Islamic civilization and vision of life. While on the other hand, the Western European countries that make up the EU are basically, Caucasian, whose modern nation states are founded on Judeo-Christian religious traditions and Greco-Roman philosophy, civilization, culture and worldview.
Thus, no matter how hard they may try to promote multiculturalism and diversity as strength in that case, the fact is that there is no way, the two, Turkey's Arab Muslim worldview, civilization, value system and philosophy of life, and the Western European's Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman worldview, philosophy of life and civilization, will ever meet. Multiculturalism, diversity as strength, multi-racialism, multi-ethnicity and multi-religious co-existence in this case, will never work, even at the level of European Union, not to talk of merging a country like Turkey with any Western European country, e.g., Italy or Greece. Oil and water can never mix!
This is something our ruling class and elites have refused to acknowledge in the Nigerian situation. In fact, Nigeria will look like 'heaven" for the type of conflicts and political instability that would occur, should, for example, an Arab Muslim country such as Turkey be merged together, as one nation state with any of the Western European nation states, e.g., Greece or Italy, and so on. Because, what we have in Nigeria and call a nation state, is like merging as one nation state, Great Britain, France, Russia, Iraq and Iran. There is no way such a nation state could ever survive, even for a day without they themselves killing one another and living in perpetual state of political instability, ethnic-cleansings and what have you!
Unfortunately, this is the abnormal situation we been forced to accept and live in Nigeria as one nation state! The abnormality of logging together, in one nation state, peoples of different ethnic-nationalities with conflicting diverse value systems, philosophy of life, civilizations, religious and cultural backgrounds, and worldviews! In fact, such an abnormal political arrangement is tolerated, only because as Africans, we are looked upon with disdain! Not even in Latin America or Asia can the people there accept such a colonial political arrangements in their ancestral lands.
Nigeria and Inadequacies of Multiculturalism and Diversity as Strength
The question is, 'Why do we say that the Nigerian situation is neither that of multiculturalism nor of diversity as strength?' Neither is it of political restructuring nor of rotational-presidency! None of these political jargons is going to resolve the endemic political impasse the country has been passing through since its foundation as a nation state by the colonial masters, British. That is, since the amalgamation of Southern and Northern Protectorates of the country in 1914 by British colonial masters!
Multiculturalism, diversity as strength, restructuring and rotational-presidency, all are deceptive terms and narratives, often evoked by those who do not really want to get at the heart of Nigeria's problem - the nation's founding story, responsible for the mess the country has become today!
Therefore, personally, as explained already, I don't subscribe to any of these terminologies, as viable political jargon or system for resolving Nigeria's current political impasse, failure of leadership, and the pervading problem of insecurity of lives and property in the country.
In other words, there are reasons for which we should jettison the proposed ideology of the ill-conceived concepts of multiculturalism, diversity as strength, restructuring and rotational-presidency in the Nigerian context, as we know it. This is because, if we are to follow or rather allow these concepts as the basis for the continued existence of Nigeria as a nation-state, it would mean, going back to the philosophy that sustained the infamous Apartheid racist regime in South Africa, in which the White Europeans, minority racist rule and discrimination against Blacks, thrived!
This is also, because the South African Apartheid racist European White minority rule, was basically founded on the ideology of multiculturalism (known also as "multiracialism"). Which was their hypothetical interpretation of the maxim, "diversity as strength." In fact, it was on the basis of this pervasive and hypocritical projection of "multiculturalism" and "diversity as strength", as a political option that Apartheid ideology of White superiority rule over the Blacks of South Africa, became an official government policy in that country.
Through this type of concepts of multiculturalism and diversity as strength, Apartheid ideology became the Racist White Minority South Africa's government policy of racial segregation - separating Europeans from non-Europeans, calling it a policy of "separate development of races" in a multicultural and multi-racial Union of (Racist) South Africa. But the people themselves knew, it was the highest level of deception against the segregated and marginalized Black populations of South Africa by the minority racist White Europeans!
Multiculturalism, multiracialism and diversity as strength, as practiced in the Apartheid South Africa, which is exactly the same thing some people are trying to advance for Nigeria, is a big distraction to the main problem confronting the Nigeria today as a nation state. Today, as never before, majority of Nigeria's indigenous ethnic-nationalities, logged together by the British, are faced with the problem of survival!
In a Nigeria that has turned into bloodbaths and nightmare to many of its citizens, today as never before, each of the component federating ethnic-nationalities, is subtly, but with sense of duty for self-determination and freedom as a people, struggling for survival in a nation that has forced them to become almost none-entities. Forced to live together as one nation state, under one central, unitary system of government, and preponderance political control at the hands of one ethno-religious group, Northern Fulani Muslims, today as never before, majority of Nigeria's indigenous ethnic-nationalities are facing one basic challenge. Namely, the struggle for survival of each of the component federating indigenous ethnic-nationalities in the country.
This is the problem with Nigeria! It is neither the question of multiculturalism or diversity as strength, nor that of political restructuring or rotational-presidency! Nobody in his or her right senses would wish that we reintroduce from a backdoor, the infamous South Africa's Apartheid regime ideology of multiculturalism and diversity as strength in this 21st century! This is unacceptable!
In fact, in the Apartheid South Africa, before it's demise in 1989, that infamous system and it's philosophy of multiculturalism and diversity as strength, had succeeded only in one major thing: The system reduced the majority Black population to non-persons and strangers in their ancestral land. Moreover, under the Apartheid system itself, and its multiculturalism, diversity as strength ideology, the White Afrikaner Churches, particularly, the Dutch Reformed Churches, whose members benefited from the Apartheid system, developed a theology to justify the subjugation of the Blacks to the White minority. It was a theology based on the philosophy of multiculturalism and diversity as strength - the superiority of the privileged race over the indigenous Black populations of South Africa.
The proponents of this kind of theology, which is based on Apartheid racist ideology, argued that racial segregation in a multicultural, multiracial and multi-ethnic South Africa, was the will of God, because God created different races, and made some superiors to govern and rule over others, even when sharing the same nation state with them! Thus, racial integration as well as independence of the perceived people of "low" races and indigenous ethnic populations of South Africa, for proponents of this ideology, was against the will of God. Consequently, these Churches banned inter-racial marriages.
In this context, also, the supporters of the Apartheid and its philosophy of multiculturalism and diversity as strength, maintained that God gave the White minority a special vocation to civilize and Christianize the other races and ethnic-nationalities in South Africa.
In fact, under multiculturalism, multiethnic, multiracialism and diversity as strength, practiced in the Apartheid South Africa, people were basically going to be arranged in "compartments", based on their ethnic-nationalities, race or skin color. This was what they called multiculturalism and diversity as strength in the Apartheid South Africa. Unfortunately, it is the same principle, some people, perhaps, without knowing it, want us to accept in Nigeria, in this 21st century! God forbid!