The Capitalist Beast: Does Tribalism Provide Economic Favors in Nigeria?

hausa men Nigeria
Traditional Hausa men in Hausa attire

The progress of a nation’s economy is often determined by the collective efforts of every individual irrespective of his tribe, ethnicity, background and status. Despite Nigeria’s great economic strength globally, they have failed to experience maximum success due to the existence of tribalism among people.

Tribalism is the state or fact of being organized in a tribe or tribes. Tribalism denotes the behavior and attitudes stemming from strong loyalty to one’s own clan or ethnic group and Nigeria appears to be organized as a society motivated by cultural tribalism.

images from an Ibo wedding
Photo from an Igbo wedding.

Nature blessed Nigeria with weather, good soil for agriculture, solid minerals are like MTN (everywhere you go), crude oil is in abundance, access to rivers and the sea, although only gaining independence in 1960, for Nigeria to be where it is presently overall, is progressive. Nigeria is what Nigerians make it to be.

But countrymen have divided relationships between the extraordinarily wealthy classes from the “ordinary” class of Nigerians that can’t boast of the same wealth in their disposal.

The foray into the present-day Nigerian society reveals the fact that our citizens still live and experience extreme cases of poverty – abject poverty and disease caused by unfathomable corruption and tribalism at the national level of our polity. It seems only privileged families dominate our society and political and economic fortunes are structured for them only.

Tribalism is the reason why we have Nigerians always campaigning for the release of their tribesmen who are in trouble with the law without regard to whatever offense the person has committed.

A vivid example is the Oduah Gate scandal involving the minister of Aviation, Ms. Stella Oduah, over the purchase of two bullet proof vehicles. Some Igbo youth protested against the charges claiming that the charges were targeted against her because she was Igbo.

Also when the two sons of Gov. Sule Lamido of Jigawa State were arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for money laundering, some northern youth also gathered together and protested against the arrest claiming it was motivated by tribalism and politics. Tribalism also may be the reason why we have a zoning system in Nigeria and the zoning system is not an efficient way of producing the best leaders for this country.

Nigeria is plagued by tribalism, political ineptitude, mediocrity, lack of discipline, lack of honesty and accountability, insensitivity, ethnic bigotry and corruption which have been rampant at the top echelon of political life and have continued to grow with impunity.

Tribalism goes a long way in deciding how a person gets a federal position, university admission, becomes a part of a sports team and in every aspect of almost every daily human endeavor. Nigeria is blessed with abundant human resources that if properly managed, can propel our country to a formidable nation in all spheres.

Pre-independence Yoruba cloth. Date unknown.

For Nigeria to really succeed, we must put an end to tribalism and unite as a nation. Nigeria cannot progress if the people are suspicious of each other. For Nigeria to experience any reasonable growth, tribalism should be treated as gravely as racism.