What Keeps Us Together II

The wristwatch cannot be a functional device if there is no supporting structure. Nigeria, just like every country, needs that structure.

After Independence, governments have come and gone: some civilian, some military, some widely loved and some widely hated. In all of this, Nigeria needed something to keep us together. Football looked like the answer. When a national team (especially the Super Eagles) has a match is the time Nigerians do not see themselves as people from an ethnic group but as Nigerians.

The problem is that a Nigerian first sees himself as a person from an ethnic group, then as a person of a religion, then as a person from a state before being a Nigerian. This means that the interests of those other units come before the interest of Nigeria. But in football, as the match is going on, No Christian would wish Musa would miss a goal because he’s a Muslim. No Northener would wish Ndidi would play a wrong pass because he’s Igbo. At that moment, every Nigerian is first of all a Nigerian.

But football is played once in about three months. Before the next match is played, we have enough time to destroy whatever unity that was created in the previous match. With the recent lack of success of the Super Eagles, they themselves need help just as the country does. The last time the Super Eagles made us proud was 2013. Beating a non-footballing nation 10-0 after losing out on the ticket to the World Cup isn’t really a big deal. Even if they won every competition, it wouldn’t be enough to keep us together because of the average intervals between matches.

Nigeria has had an uninterrupted Democratic Rule for 23 years. It is something we should be proud of. But some of us aren’t, because just as the Nigerian English language is different from the British (no matter how we twist our tongue and contract our nose) our democracy is different. The aim of this post is not to highlight how different our democracy is. Haven’t we all seen how one man can decide the leader of more than 5 million people? Our democratic election is a tutorial for autocracy. Don’t we know there is a cabal in every state that makes decisions on behalf of every one? Ironically, these cabal members are not usually the most knowledgeable in the state, just the most privileged.

What we have looks like democracy but it is not. But we are glad to have it. It gives us hope. If it has somehow kept us together for the past 23 years, imagine what it will be if we had a proper democracy from 2023.

We have an opportunity to change the narrative and start the journey to a true democracy from 2023.

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