I wish this country luck in uniting the individualists and tribalists that all Nigerians are confirmed to be. To unite such people into one nation, the first thing to do is kill the individualist and tribalist in them. Can that be done?
In one or two states in the country, the governors have given orders that non-indigenes be registered to be identified, in case any of them is mischief-minded. This comes in the wake of the prolonged terrorist attacks within the north, (which people fear may spread down south any time), being launched relentlessly by the Islamic sect, boko haram, based in the North East zone.
This development became an issue in the latest meeting of former heads of state, The Council of State, and also the National Security Council, made up mostly of northerners. They frowned at this and directed the registration of non-indigenes in parts of the country to be “investigated” with the aim of stopping it forthwith. A newspaper like the SUN has in an editorial joined in unequivocally condemning the registration as something that will further divide the country. But it did not say why the registration was deemed necessary in the first place by the governors who ordered for it.
Neither do I know why the registration was being done in the states concerned. The governors who gave the order ought to let us know why they did it, before we can reach any conclusions. I believe it has to do with the sensitive albatross on the neck of Nigeria called unity. For that, people think that nobody should use the normal, harmless words indigene or non-indigene for a Nigerian in any part of Nigeria. But why not use them? Why?
Is it not taking the issue of unity and its implications perhaps too far? It is a reality that Nigerians are non-indigenes in other parts of their country outside their homes of origin. Everywhere is not home for every Nigerian. Thus, a Nigerian from Owerri is not an indigene of Asaba. Even within the same state, an indigene of Mbaise is a non-indigene of Okpuala, close by. A person from Warri is a non-indigene of Kano. So, if we want to be honest to ourselves, the use of the word non-indigene the way it was used is in order. One, a non-indigene cannot speak the language of indigenes. And he cannot be admitted into the meeting of indigenes. There, he is an outsider, a foreigner. This is indisputable.
What word shall we then use in this regard in order not to cause offence? Is somebody from Benue not a non-indigene of Anambra? A non-indigene can only be at peace if he/she is peaceful at home and abroad. In this case, some northerners have proved to all Nigerians and the world that they hate peace and they are lovers of violence at home. They could be so abroad too. Who ever throws a bomb in his home and sometimes commits suicide in the act? What sort of human beings are they? And for that, they can be suspected of mischief elsewhere, wherever they go. This is what is happening. That isolates them from civil societies where lovers of peace live.
We are told in a form of radio and television harassment that we should report un-usual movements and conduct of people where we stay. How else can this be done without taking note of unknown and un-familiar faces in our environment (environment being state, country, neighbourhood, village or town)? This is what the governors have done. Why does Nigeria contradict itself every minute, and get us all confused every time? What are we supposed to do in this damn place?
Identification of new arrivals or residents in an area, even old residents who are not indigenes is the only security intelligence measure anybody can take anywhere. By what means it is done is the issue. It is visitors and new residents who are first suspects, when something untoward happens anywhere. That’s why they should be identified. There is nothing unusual or harmful about this except in Nigeria! So the identification of non-indigenes in a place cannot be faulted, if the war against terrorists will be won. Forget this issue of unity. Let’s face this problem of insecurity from terrorists and insurgents first. But I think it is insurrection rather than terrorism and insurgency we are facing. Check the difference. Insurrection is a move to take over power. The others are just disturbances without any particular motive in mind. You just kill, destroy and be happy. That’s all. Their people in the media made those words popular to make the offence lighter. I would never have used terrorism or insurgency for boko haram as a media man. They are far from it. It is an insurrection from the north. If you want to compare it with Biafra, Biafra was secession. Boko haram wants to overthrow the Federal government and take over. This, am afraid, is not clear to the Federal government yet.
On the other hand, what sense does the registration of non-indigenes make when a countrywide National Identity Number (NIN) registration is on-going? If one is registered as non-indigene in a state, so what? What can anyone do about it that will not breach the citizenship and human rights of the non-indigene? So, that exercise is one in futility, practically. It is a pure waste of time. It is a lazy man’s approach to state security. It is cumbersome. It is unproductive. It is wasteful. For these reasons, it can be scrapped, but not for the reason that it could isolate non-indigenes and create division. Division is already there and perhaps irreparable.
What should happen is that any non-resident anywhere taking up abode in another place, even for one day, should first be required by law to report to the nearest Police Station or Immigration Office there for documentation. These should be able to take all precautionary measures about the person, until he leaves or becomes accepted as a worthy person to be a permanent resident. Or be identified as a security risk and treated accordingly. This is the sensible thing that must be done, to check terrorist infiltration into otherwise safe areas of the country. Violation of this law would lead to arrest. And the implementation should also be strict.
The truth of the matter, however, is that this is a country of individualists and tribalists. Uniting them in the past 100 years has not achieved anything. They said no to, adding a 6th state to the South East, when one of them has 7. And no one stands to lose anything by that. They said no to resource control; no to increase of derivation fund; no to compensation or even helping victims of boko haram bombs in the north; no to a southern president, and so on and so forth. Trying to unite them as Radio Nigeria is doing for donkey years is at least a herculean task. A few months should have been enough to achieve this wonderful feat if they were not to be individualists and tribalists, or less so. But the individualists and tribalists are congenital ones. They are unchangeable, and resisting. Nobody can do anything about it. Non-indigenes of the north, non-Muslims and advocates of western education have been told to go home. In fact they are being killed for refusing to leave the north. This has not been condemned by any serious voice in the north. What they condemn is a measure taken by the South to protect them selves!
No matter how foolish, any measure taken in Imo state to protect its people should be respected, and see if the traumatized people can get the respite, peace and security none but they themselves can provide. We have to put peace and security higher on the agenda of the country above unity. This is so because as some of us suspect, unity may be at the root of the insecurity in the country. You may not believe it. When individualists and tribalists are being integrated by force, their resistance can cause friction and conflict that destroy the peace and security of the land. If we have open eyes to see and open ears to hear again, let’s see and hear this, instead of remaining impervious to reason or adamant to wise counsel, to our clear detriment.