Ethnic jingoism doesn’t win political converts; it succeeds only in inflicting wounds that are hard to heal. Unfortunately, a cacophony of loudmouthed ethnic jingoism is taking over our political space as the 2023 electioneering hots up. The chauvinists are hard at work to destabilize Nigeria, through the 2023 elections. Daily, we read their hardwork from the messages that share to whip up another pointless Yoruba- Igbo fight.

It is saddening to watch because everybody is in on the game, some oblivious of the damage they cause.

Selling ethnic jingoism

Among the Igbo, the jingoists work hard to reduce Peter Obi to an ethnic champion. Rather than help him sell the nation rescue message, they revert to the zoning mantra that is effectively dead. They are egged on by their Yoruba soulmates itching to ignite a full-blown ethnic war.

In the West, jingoists are hard at it, trying to sell the emi lo kan message. It does not matter that Bola Tinubu has personalized, rather than etnicised his quest for the presidency. His message is clear; emi lo kan, not awa lo kan. But they want to convert his fight into our fight by hunting for enemies. And not finding any, they resort to creating one to add to the confusion.

Ironically, it is the northern candidates – Atiku Abubakar (PDP) and Rabiu Kwankwaso (NNDP) that actively promote chauvinism in their region.

The beautiful thing is that an army of independent-minded voters is growing a stout resistance to ethnic and regional rhetoric. For the first time, it dawned on many that we are interdependent and that no group can go it alone.

I have seen quite a bit of the effluents that the ethnic renegades are discharging into the public space. From the West, it is all about Igbo are the enemies of the Yoruba. The sophisticated among them pointedly appeal to the ethnic base, asking that they support “our own” rather than “outsiders.” Alhaji Bola Tinubu, the APC candidate, personalized his quest through the emi lo kan approach. He nevertheless semiotically rouses his ethnic base by intermittently lapsing into the vernacular.

A dangerous game

It is a very dangerous game they are playing.

Significantly, the Igbo should have had the first right of refusal to the 2023 Presidency, going by so-called zoning principle.

it is scandalous for any other region in the south not to back the Igbo. I myself hate zoning with a passion. Zoning tends to give either a ruler or his ethnic base a sense of entitlement to what belongs to all.

Second of all, haven’t we had enough of the identity politics that has kept Nigeria hostage since Independence? Let’s promote 2023 as the first election where Nigerians chose the best man for the job. Look at our situation, the hardship and suffering that the majority endures. Is there anything happening now that indicates that things will get better any time soon?

Third of all, offering a presidential candidate ethnic protection puts him against other ethnic nationalities. It guarantees laziness and lack of attention to proper stagecraft. The leader can always rely on his base to protect his incompetence. The emi lo kan chant of today will become awa lo kan tomorrow, a weapon to fight off the other.

A last chance

It may sound a bit melodramatic but Nigeria’s hope for survival depends on whom we elect President in February 2023. Lets give it to whoever has the best agenda and proven managerial skills. And let’s do so without sentiments about where they come from or worship God.

Nigeria needs the person who will not work as an ethnic jingoist or pander to their wiles.

What the ethnic chauvinists are doing are the same things we saw them do in 2015. They actively sow seeds of discord and disunity. It is a pernicious agenda because it sets up the incoming ruler against sections of the country. Haven’t we suffered enough? Let Atiku, Tinubu or Obi win as a Nigerian and govern Nigeria for Nigerians. Heavens forbid that they ascend the throne as an enemy of any ethnic group or group of persons. Let the ethnic warlords divert their energies to how we can peacefully divide the country. It is a worthier cause than sowing division and discord among us. Loudmouth jingoism does not win converts. They create enemies.

Ethnic Jingoists at Work