The Chairman of the House of Representative Committee on Culture & Tourism, Rt. Hon. Ben Nwankwo said Nigeria as a nation needs to know her DNA in order to effectively tackle the current security challenges.
Hon. Nwankwo, who made this assertion in his goodwill message at the 2nd National Conference on, “Culture, Peace and National Security: The Role of Traditional Rulers in Nigeria’s Democracy,” organized by National Institute For Cultural Orientation (NICO), in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), from 26th – 27th May, 2014, at the Banquet Hall, Arewa House, Kaduna, Kaduna State, said he knew how important the conference was, having attended the last one and knowing also the outcome of that conference, and also knowing how apt this year’s edition would contribute to the current reconstruction efforts in Nigeria.
Speaking about a book on ethical re-orientation of Nigerians written by Mrs. Sarah Jibril, the Special Adviser to the President on Ethics and Values, Nwankwo said she was not only a teacher but a mother and would wish that as Nigerians, we would not only listen to her speeches but practice what she teaches.
He asserted: “While she was making her contribution, I was taking some notes. I call those jottings, “the real trouble with Nigeria;” and for want of time, I am not going to read it but I want to make a very important note that it looks to me that the real trouble with Nigeria is that we have not discovered our national DNA.”
He continued: “As a boy or a girl, as a man or a woman, you know your DNA; and your DNA connects you to your paternity; it gives you your identity; it tells you who you are. It looks to me as if as a country, we have not discovered our DNA. We haven’t even bordered to ask ourselves: What is our DNA? What are we Nigerians? What is Nigeria? Why should Nigeria be here? Why was Nigeria started? How was Nigeria started?”
Nwankwo averred that Nigeria started as a British enterprise and ended not as a business enterprise but as a political enterprise, stressing: “I am going to end my remark with a quote by Fredrick Lugard in 1916, which answers the question, Why Nigeria became? And what our DNA should be? And it looks as if we have been pandering left and right. We have been like an aircraft that have been up there in the sky sustained by our national momentum but we don’t know where we are going to. We are found somewhere up in the air; you ask the people on the radar; they say, ‘Yes, we are still seeing the aircraft; yes, it’s up there in the air we know the altitude but where it’s going to we don’t know because it is not connected to the radar.’ We are lost because of not knowing our DNA.”
He said if you asked him what Nigeria’s DNA is, he will say that during the scramble for Africa among European and some other imperial powers, there was a struggle; it was an economic and political struggle to define jurisdiction and interest.
He posited that Britain, the leader of the Commonwealth countries was the biggest imperial powers and wanted to find a country that should be the biggest in Africa that will protect their political and economic interest in the entire continent of Africa. They wanted a country that should be to Africa what America is to the world, and that, to him, is the DNA of Nigerians.
He stated: “We should be asking ourselves: Have we been living up to the expectation of being the biggest and widest conglomeration of African society in the entire world? We should be asking ourselves: Are we happy and showing good example of the leadership of Africa? We should be asking ourselves: Are there interests that are either within or outside of Africa that are not interested in Nigeria realising its potentials? I think if you ask me, I would say, Yes; obviously, because the whole idea of world politics is the struggle for who gets what.”
According to him, there were people whose vested interest was to see Nigeria break up and that those forces were at work. “We should be able to say, No! We are teachable; Nigeria has the best brains all over the world in different endeavours; and we are teachable. We have come to realise that religion and ethnicity are no bases for conflicts. It is politicians that use them as excuses to divide us. What is there in being a Christian and a Muslim? On Friday, you go to mosque. While going, I tell my Muslim friends, ‘Please, remember me in prayers;’ they will tell me, ‘I have heard;’ and they will always pray for me. On Sunday, I go to Church. Look no Muslim has ever told me, ‘Don’t go to the church on Sunday.’ Has that been the case? Has anybody done that? Look, it has never happened! It doesn’t happen; therefore, we can co-exist.”
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