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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Cultural renaissance and nation building

By Ayodele Olaleye


Nigeria has been bedeviled with the problem of nation- building immediately after the amalgamation of northern and southern protectorate in the year 1914, by Lord Luggard. The 1960 independence constitution further aggravated the disunity that enveloped the three major ethnic groups that constituted the nation. It was discovered that ethnic and tribal dichotomy coupled with differences in culture, marginalization, lopsidedness in appointment and employment into political offices and service breed hatred among Nigerians. Likewise, the problem of bad leadership, language differences, constitutional crises, and religious differences among the adherents cum the crisis associated with revenue allocation formula among the three tiers of government also are contributing to the problems affecting the nation.
In recent years, Nigerians have faced intense difficulty in the management of her nation building and integration. The problem emanated from ethnic and tribal sentiments that permeated the society. Hatred and distrust is witnessed among the constituent units. Ethnic supremacy of one tribe over the others has created a lot of agitation among ethnic groups that formed the country. Appointment to sensitive positions are based on ethnic chauvinism, political alliance and allegiance are based on the dictates of ethnic and tribal considerations.
Moreover, religious differences also constitute a hindrance to national cohesion. The adherents to the two major religions, Christianity and Islamic religion, find it hard to tolerate each other’s view and doctrines. The pluralistic and multi religious approach facing the nation gives room for suspicion and distrust.
Other hindrances to the nation building is the political instability facing the country after independence of 1960, as a result from forced marriage of 1914 amalgamation by the colonialists without taking into consideration the cultural diversities, people dispositions, diverse languages that characterized the geo-political zones that was forced together into one political unit. Suffice to say that the various ethnic groups are intimate strangers.
In addition, regional consideration has been a major challenge to nation-building in Nigeria. Lack of consideration for proper federation has been the log in the wheel of progress in building the nation. The division between the indigenes and settlers have formed the foundation of domestic violence and crises cum the nationalists from each regions fought each other and never had a central rallying figure.
Moreover, poor or bad leadership constitute a hindrance to our national unity. Bad leader styles that focus on personal ideas rather that collective ideas when making important national decisions, selfish leaders that abuse fundamental human rights, few despots that consistently rigged elections which in turn lead to poverty, mass unemployment, mass literacy and economic retrogression, created distress pain or sorrow for the unfavorable groups.
Other problem confronting our nation-building is the dichotomy existing between the north and southern part of Nigeria, in terms of economic resources and opportunities after independence. The notion among the northerners is that southern Nigeria have advantage of enormous natural resources and at the same time have access to international waters cum the advantage of western education over the northern part of the country further polarized the nation along ethnic lines at the detriment of nation
cohesion and unity.
Constitutional crisis also constitute a hindrance to the nation-building. Lack of constitutional arrangement that has the backing of majority of Nigerians. The issue of not strictly adhering to the fundamental principles of true federalism, problem that associated with revenue allocation formula among the constituent states, agitation of marginalization of some ethnic groups in term of State creation. Likewise, is the practicing of pseudo-unitary system of government as against true federalism.
How then do the country gets out of this multifaceted problems? Museums as an institution that conserve, preserve and interpret the nation’s rich cultural materials and non-cultural materials (tangible and intangible) through generations, are in the vintage position to educate Nigerians on the need for nation building and national integration
Through exhibitions and outreach programmes, museums are in better position to educate Nigerians on the importance of nation-building as catalyst to national development through the teaching of civic values and norms that produce moderate citizenry with national interest and national ethos.
The supplementary lecture on nation-building given the teachers and students alike during visits to the museum gallery by the museum professionals preaches value orientation, welfarism, and patriotism that produce good citizens and a better nation that encourage loyalty, conformity and national consciousness among Nigerians.
The problem associated with nation-building can be drastically reduced with the synergy between the museums, traditional rulers and the politicians. The traditional rulers are the Custodian of culture and values. They are in better position to promote right attitudes needed for national development and cohesion.
Museums with the use of mobile exhibitions in films and documentaries are in better position to educate the political class, all and sundry the right values, and attitudes that promote national unity, encourage nationhood and effective leadership and followership. The museums are in a better position to use holiday programmes for leadership training in national consciousness, nationalism, neighborhood, mutual respect, and national reformation on how to revamp the current state of the nation to build a better country.
Also, the ability to revitalize the national image to the youths who are the leaders of tomorrow. Museums are in better position to promote nation-building through community development programmes that empower the citizens sociality and politically. Programmes and activities like traditional games, public enlightenment programmes, cooking competition, that promote positive rivalry among the ethnic groups.
In conclusion, the possible solution to the menace of nation-building requires the Contributions of the stakeholders, government, technocrat, National Commission for Museums and Monument, all and sundry. The afore-mentioned must first let the people know that they are truly and proudly Nigerians and not aliens as they are being treated. The synergy will galvanize the people’s interest towards promoting the right values and altitudes that promote social change and national integration. The nexus will definitely build stable internal peace, reduce inequality, and encourage respect for fundamental human right and political development. Nation-building will enhance civil society participation, development of democratic ethos and aspirations, promote peoples welfare and rule of law.

Ayodele writes from National Museum, Owo.

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