Jonathan Laments Nigeria’s Persistent Lack Of Unity Since 1914

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Former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, voiced his concerns about Nigeria’s ongoing struggle to achieve national unity; dating back to the 1914 amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates. Speaking at an event in Abuja commemorating Prof Udenta Udenta’s 60th birthday, Jonathan emphasised the absence of a shared national philosophy within the country.

He pointed out that early political parties had regional biases, contributing to the polarization of the nation. Jonathan also referenced historical leaders like Awolowo, who questioned the existence of a unified Nigerian nation.

The former President said, “Have we been able to convince ourselves whether we are a state or a nation? If we are a country and a state, how do we become a nation?

“I am not blaming our founding fathers, but they failed to integrate us into a proper nation. They operated as individuals, and so on.

“Of course, if you have read some of the comments of our former leaders, someone like (Obafemi) Awolowo made it very clear that there was no nation called Nigeria. It is a geographical entity; it is a country; it is a state; it has laws; but there is no nation.

“The country was so polarised, especially during the early political party formation, and the parties were regional parties. There was no sense of commitment to integrating Nigeria into an entity that you can say, yes, this is a nation with core values and a common philosophy, and people will be patriotic towards that nation.

“Most of the parties at that time belonged to regions, and there were no alliances for the purpose of ruling the country.

“When I compare Nigeria and a country like Tanzania, I feel that Julius Nyerere made his vision clear: to make Tanzania a nation. They have different tribes, maybe not as many as Nigeria, but one nation was at the height of his thoughts.”

Drawing a comparison to Tanzania, Jonathan highlighted how leaders like Julius Nyerere worked to create a cohesive nation by being particular a common language and a one-party system in the early stages of independence.

Jonathan acknowledged that Nigeria had missed opportunities in its formative years to establish a strong sense of national identity.

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