Politicised ethnicity has been described as a threat to Nigeria’s corporate existence rather than an asset for development and unity.
The Senator representing Cross River Northern Senatorial District, Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe made the remark at the University of Calabar Registry Day lecture titled “Ethnicity, Education and Politics in Nigeria,” held in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, south-south Nigeria.
Senator Jarigbe, who was the guest speaker at the event, stated that Nigerian policy makers and managers of state resources were utilising political authority for personal gains rather than the public good, a situation he described as political domination.
In discussing the topic, Jarigbe said education equips a learner with necessary skills and knowledge needed for effective participation and contribution to nation building, while politics is the set of activities and processes associated with the making of decisions in groups or other forms of power relations.
According to the legislator, “ethnicity is not anti-development.
Ethnicity had provided succour to people in difficult times and has engendered real development amongst various Nigerian groups.
He recalled that the bastardisation of ethnicity started in the colonial period, hinting the politics of the years 1951 – 1960 gave a foretaste of the problems of inter-ethnic, inter-regional and inter-party relations that independent Nigeria would battle to with.
Senator Jarigbe further recalled the frustrations of Nnamdi Azikiwe of the NCNC in the Western House of Assembly, which created a more tragic situation when he returned to Eastern Nigeria and ousted Eyo Ita from the ethnic minority group.
“The situation hardened ethnic and political lines in such a manner that it is now an anathema for any Nigerian to dare contest elections outside his state and local government of origin,” noted Jarigbe.
Need for change
He, however, advised that ethnicity, education and politics can destroy a nation if put to bad use as we have seen in many African countries including Nigeria.
As Nigerians, we all need to be challenged by the incredible levels of social and economic development and political stability that many other nations, including those with more diverse ethnic and religious pluralism have achieved.
The senator reasoned, “as creations of man, ethnicity, education and politics have served useful purposes for various societies around the world.
Through them, the fortunes of many individuals and societies have been reshaped irreversible.
“It has become imperative for people to stop using politicized ethnicity to cause ethnic hatred, acrimony and suspicion to boost their political standing.
“All the men and women, who transformed their society through exceptional leadership in recent times, were/are men of unusual intelligence and ability who did not allow their ethnic origins to becloud their sense of judgment in their services to their nation,” Jarigbe said.
The Chairman of the occasion and Chancellor of Arthur Javis University, Sir.
Arthur Archibong remarked that “Nigeria’s ethno-geographic diversity was often cited as a major stumbling block towards unity and oneness of purpose.
The Registrar and Secretary to Council, Mr.
Gabriel Ugbe noted that the university’s Registry Day event was first of its kind and described the topic as apt since it would address some of the challenges the Nigeria was facing.
The Vice Chancellor of UNICAL, Professor Florence Obi commended the Registrar for the initiative, noting that it would serve as a platform for change in staff attitude to duty.
Senator Calls For Politics Devoid of Ethnicity