Peace is not unity in similarity but unity in diversity, in the comparison and conciliation of differences. The beauty and strength of humanity is in our diversity: diversity in culture, religion, ethnicity, profession, beliefs and more. Nigeria ranks amongst the most diverse countries in the world. Based on ethnicity alone, it is the 9th most diverse country in the world. This is our strength.
As the largest economy in Africa, Nigeria faces a variety of complex problems that threatens the greatly desired state of peace, unity, and progress. These problems include poverty, inequality, corruption, insecurity (Boko Haram insurgency) and most recently, the renewed agitation of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a separatist organization that wants a number of states in south-east Nigeria, made up mainly of Nigerians from the Igbo ethnic group, to break away from Nigeria and form the independent nation of Biafra.
It is largely believed that Nigeria’s return to the practice of ‘true federalism’ will systematically address the agitation for division. A system of government in which governmental powers that exist in Nigeria would be shared between central government and component regions. The regional system of governance will then promote unity by acknowledging our differences.
In the words of John Hume, “Difference is the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of birth and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict. The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace: respect for diversity.”
Unity remains the better option as compared with division. Korea and Sudan have shown us this. It is therefore imperative that the federal government of Nigeria comes up with a lasting solution to this recurring agitation for division and put in place measures to keep Nigeria unified and positioned for lasting peace and progress. This is a call for restructuring as it holds more promises of unity than division.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Unity, to be real, must stand the severest strain without breaking.” Our country Nigeria has been through the severest of strains, now is the time to achieve lasting unity. Our dream remains to achieve a state of unity and faith, peace and progress. There is no better time than now.
The Global Shapers Community is an initiative of the World Economic Forum. We are a network of youth around the world, driving dialogue, action and change in several communities. The Ibadan Hub of Global Shapers Community is committed to advocating for peace across communities, building cross-cultural narratives and reinforcing peaceful co-existence. As Nigeria clocks 57, we believe that with peace and unity, progress shall be made by both the leadership and the citizenry.
About Olobashola Folorunsho Gabriel
Olobashola Folorunsho Gabriel writes as the Curator of Global Shapers Community, Ibadan Hub. You can reach him via firstname.lastname@example.org to support the hub’s peace advocacy and other projects across communities.