Mr and Mrs Afolabi Bankole who were both born in Ogun state Nigeria, moved to US in 1970, settled in Chicago and sired four children. All of the children are US citizens by virtue of being born in US and fully integrated in the state of Illinois, with one even contesting for an elective seat in US parliament.
In the same year Mr Mutiu Bankole, senior brother to Afolabi, moved to Uyo in Akwa Ibom state Nigeria, married Nseobong from same Akwa Ibom state and, between them, birthed four children while living in Uyo. Unfortunately, none of the children can even get a job in Akwa Ibom state public service because their “state of origin” is not Akwa Ibom but Ogun. This is in spite of the fact that the children, now adults, were all born, married from and lived all their lives in Akwa Ibom state, with perfect mastery of both the language and culture not withstanding. In fact, they know next to nothing about their parent’s state of birth, Ogun.
The above scenario is a depiction of state of origin and hometown limitations facing Nigerian citizens in Nigeria. A Nigerian can easily move to a country like US with even children born outside US and, within some years, they can become full US citizens with the right to aspire to an office as high as the Governorship of a state. A Nigerian, on the other hand, who moves to another city within Nigeria but outside his ancestral city of birth will forever be “stigmatized” as non-indigene, irrespective of his possible social, economic and other contributions to that city or town. The impact is that while he may be interested in the social and political developments in his city/town of permanent residence, he and his future generations will forever be culturally, tribally and politically excluded therefore detached from fully identifying with same city. His generations will neither be ever fully accepted nor accept to fully identify with the city or town.
The worst case of this is where, in addition to the two cities/towns belonging to different states, the two states are also ethnically different. That difference in ethnicity, in most instances, impacts how most Nigerians perceive and align on issues with common national import. This divergence in opinions and stands is irrespective of the commonality of the impact of the issues under spotlight on all Nigerians. In the foregoing case of Mutiu Bankole for instance, he and his future generations may forever be biased in favour of anyone from Yoruba ethnic group to which Ogun state belongs, for unassailable reasons that the society, Akwa Ibom state in this instance, to which they have possibly committed all their social, economic, fiscal and family life has, legally condemned them to perpetual second class citizen status. Why? Simple – their ancestral parents were neither born as members of one of the ethnic groups historically populating Akwa Ibom nor even within Akwa Ibom state territory.
NIGERIA’S CULTURAL DIVERSITY
The impact that a consciously cohesive nation can have on both economic development and political stability can never be over emphasized. A few instances will help buttress. But before then, we need to introduce and explain two principles of nationality law that are fundamental to this article.
Jus sanguinis or “right of blood” is a principle of nationality law whereby one qualifies as citizen of a state only if one or both parents are citizens of that state. Jus soli or “right of the soil”, on the other hand, is nationality principle whereby one acquires citizenship by virtue of being born within the territory of a country. US (in Africa Tanzania and Lesotho) adopts the later while Nigeria adopts Jus sanguinis.
While these referenced countries adopt them as nationality laws, Tanzania’s case is actually part of an overall effort at national integration started by their first President, Julius Nyerere. In fact, as a fundamental national integration effort adopted by his government, after primary education, post primary education was structured such that each student must move to another region of the country to obtain that, for the years it lasts. The result is a nation which grew generations that deemphasized tribalism and ethnicity because, from formative years, the children have grown to accept that other parts of the nation are just different parts of one entity. It is also to be noted that Tanzanian is one of the few African countries that have enjoyed the most stable democracies since independence, is spite of her multi ethnic and religious make up.
SIGHTS OF TANZANIA
This practice is a variant of one of the aims for establishing Nigeria NYSC which has failed to integrate the country in any meaningful way. The simple reason for this is that, by the time these graduates proceed to another state for the one year NYSC program, their personalities and prejudices have been so ingrained by ethnic sentiments that to change them in any tangible way, especially within the one year that the program lasts, has become near impossible.
Another nation that lends credence to the huge impact a consciously cohesive nation can have on development is Rwanda. The impact of the ethnically engendered Rwandan genocide that happened in 1994 is still fresh in the minds of the world, so much so that of Rwandans themselves. However, the developmental strides of the country over the same period is a model for the whole world. The ethnic configuration of the country has remained largely unchanged, with the Hutus maintaining a numerical strength over the other ethnicities. Yet, all these where achieved under the leadership of a President from a minority ethnicity, Tutsi. One of the key secrets is that the nation adopted a constitutional provision that makes it criminal to adopt any stance viewed as a conscious effort at ethnically segmenting Rwandans. The result is a nation that is focused on one common goal – developing Rwandan by Rwandans for Rwandans.
RWANDAN PRESIDENT PAUL KAGAME
Of course, the political, economic, social, technological and diverse dominance of the world by United States of America within just over two centuries of extracting independence from British Empire is very much tied to her very high tolerance level among its tribal, cultural, ethnic, religious and other diversities that make up the whole called United States of America.
Although the principles are defined from country states perspective, we are of the opinion that, as a way of addressing our peculiar national integration challenges, Nigeria can create and adopt a variant of the two principle as an internal answer to the “state of origin” clog to developing cohesive consciousness. As one of the most nationalistic living Nigerians, His Highness, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Emir of Kano puts it in one of his articles, we have not learnt to live together as one just as the various tribes of the northern parts of Nigeria learnt centuries ago under Uthman Dan Fodio’s leadership.
The summary of the idea of Hybrid Jus Sanguinis Jus Soli is thus:
- A Nigerian acquires state of origin by birth through “right of the soil” (jus soli) by virtue of being born in any particular state.
- Same person also acquires further full right to claim of citizenship of any other state were either, both parents or grandparents were born which is “right of blood” (jus sanguini)
This therefore means that a Nigerian citizen by birth can claim, with full rights and obligations, of as much as five states of origin namely:
- State of origin by birth – jus soli.
- State of origin by virtue of mother’s state of birth (jus sanguini)
- State of origin by virtue of father’s state of birth, if different from that of the mother (jus sanguini)
- State of origin by virtue of grandmother’s state of birth (jus sanguini)
- State of origin by virtue of grandfather’s state of birth, if different from that of the grandmother (jus sanguini)
These, as far as that citizen is concerned, would have effectively consigned ethnic and tribal consideration in national discuss to an inconsequential import, especially were the progenitors married inter ethnically as some less tribalized do. This will bring issues based objectivities more to the fore while stifling subjective ethno-tribal mundane sentiments.
It must be emphasized that this article is not advocating jettisoning ethnic groups, along with the rich varied cultural heritages that are associated with each. That is definitely not the case as those cultural variations are key parts of the economic endowment which, if well harnessed, can play tremendous roles in developing the economic strength of the nation through avenues like tourism. This article rather is about not allowing our ethnic cultural differentiations to interfere with the protection and development of our commonwealth, a united nation where an injury to one is an injury to all, ethnic and tribal differences notwithstanding.
That is the flipside view of our ethnicity conundrum