In the opening months of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration, a keen global gaze has settled on Nigeria’s emerging governance dynamics. Stepping into leadership of a country that’s a kaleidoscope of cultures and ethnicities, Tinubu’s initial moves are more than mere policy decisions; they are essential signals of the administration’s guiding principles. His recent submission of ministerial nominees to the National Assembly, far from being a mundane procedural task, carries the weight of symbolism. It reveals the contours of a government’s philosophy and direction and serves as a litmus test of commitment to inclusiveness and national unity. In a country often facing the challenges of diversity, these choices are an early indication of a government’s character, reflecting how it intends to weave the rich tapestry of its people into a cohesive and prosperous whole.
Nigeria, often referred to as the ‘Giant of Africa’, is a country rich in ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity. With over 250 ethnic groups and more than 500 indigenous languages, the country’s complexity is as intricate as it is fascinating. Major ethnic groups like the Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba coexist with numerous smaller communities, each contributing unique customs, traditions, and perspectives.
The country’s religious landscape is equally diverse, with approximately 49% of the population being Muslim, 48% Christian, and the remaining 3% adhering to indigenous beliefs or other religions.
This diversity, while a potential source of strength and enrichment, has historically presented challenges in governance and national unity. Nigeria’s colonial past, with its artificial borders and divide-and-rule tactics, laid the groundwork for ethnic tensions that have reverberated through the nation’s post-independence history.
From the Biafran Genocide of 1967–1970, where more than three million Biafrans were brutally murdered, to recurring clashes in the Niger Delta and religious tensions in the Northern states, Nigeria has grappled with issues related to nepotism, tribalism, and exclusion. Inter-communal violence in Nigeria, an alarming phenomenon fueled by disputes over land, resources, and tribal differences, has escalated to unprecedented levels. The International Crisis Group, in a comprehensive analysis conducted in 2019, shed light on the severity of this issue, documenting a surge in conflict-related fatalities that claimed over 2,000 lives in the previous year alone.
However, the situation has not only persisted but escalated dramatically. According to the meticulous data collected by the Nigeria Security Tracker, an esteemed project under the auspices of the Council on Foreign Relations, the first few months of 2023 have seen a chilling rise in violence. The grim tally now exceeds 10,000 deaths, underscoring the urgency of addressing this deeply entrenched and complex crisis.
This surge in fatalities amplifies the call for a responsive and responsible government, committed to bridging divides and fostering a sense of national unity and inclusiveness. It is in this context that President Tinubu’s decisions around governance and appointments become not just politically significant but fundamentally reflective of Nigeria’s pursuit of harmony, progress, and justice.
As President Tinubu stepped into office, he inherited not only the promises of Nigeria’s immense potential but also the weight of its historical grievances. The task ahead is monumental: to weave the country’s multifaceted strands into a cohesive tapestry that resonates with the principles of inclusivity, fairness, and national solidarity.
The recent submission of ministerial nominees and the articulation of governmental policies provide an early and vital opportunity to signal commitment to these principles. In a nation where the stakes are high and the eyes of millions are watchful, every step and every decision, is a stride towards unity or a misstep towards division. The course President Tinubu charts will not only shape his legacy but also define the trajectory of Africa’s most populous country.
In the ever-evolving socio-political tapestry of Nigeria, the decisions made today will inevitably shape the future. The aspirations of the common Nigerian are interwoven with the dreams of the country. People hope for a brighter, more inclusive future, one where every citizen, regardless of their ethnic or social background, feels heard, represented, and considered.
While the nomination of these 47 ministers is a significant step, the real work begins now. These representatives, once confirmed, will be entrusted with the mandate to drive transformative change in their respective ministries. Their roles are not just administrative but symbolic. They are the bridge between policy and its impact, between governance and the grassroots.
But beyond the roles and responsibilities that come with ministerial portfolios, these nominees have a more profound duty. They are now the stewards of national unity. In their daily decisions, in the policies they frame, and in the strategies they devise, they must transcend parochial interests. The unity and progress of Nigeria must be at the forefront of their actions and deliberations.
Moreover, their selection offers an opportunity for President Tinubu’s administration to consolidate its message of hope and change. The challenges Nigeria faces are manifold — from economic disparities to security concerns and from infrastructural deficits to educational reforms. Addressing these requires not just vision but a collaborative effort that pulls together the diverse strengths and capabilities of this new team.
The global community, too, has its eyes set on Nigeria. As Africa’s most populous country and a significant player on the international stage, the moves Nigeria makes have implications beyond its borders. A united, progressive Nigeria can be the beacon of hope for many nations grappling with their diverse challenges.
For President Tinubu, this is a defining moment. The narrative he crafts now, the team he has put forth, and the ethos he instills will determine the trajectory of his presidency. It is an opportunity to not just respond to the immediate demands of governance but to lay the foundation for a legacy that future generations will look back on with pride.
The Call for Inclusiveness
In a country that boasts a remarkable tapestry of ethnicities, languages, and cultures, Nigeria’s strength and beauty lie in its diversity. This intricate fabric, however, comes with the responsibility to nurture, celebrate, and effectively represent it, particularly in the realms of governance.
As President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration takes shape, there looms a critical challenge and, equally, a profound opportunity. The call for inclusiveness is not merely a cry from marginalised voices or a political mantra to be chanted in rhetorical flourishes; it’s the very core of what it means to be Nigerian.
The selections made by President Tinubu for his ministerial nominees have indicated a certain awareness of this truth. A glance across the list reveals a conscious effort to encapsulate the multiplicity that is Nigeria: North and South, East and West, male and female, Muslim and Christian. These decisions are a promising start, a reflection of the country’s rich ethnic, cultural, and gender diversity.
But it is imperative that this initial step not be a terminus but rather a beginning.
Nigeria’s history is pockmarked with the scars of favoritism, nepotism, and tribalism. The legacy of these practices has been a disunited country, riven by suspicion and mistrust, with its vast potential often untapped or misdirected. These fissures have, at times, escalated into deep social unrest, conflicts, and a distortion of the very identity of the nation.
The consequences of any regression to these practices would be dire. It would mean the deepening of existing tensions, a pulling apart at the very seams that hold the nation together. It would mean the marginalization of voices that must be heard, the alienation of communities that must be embraced, and the diminishment of a national character that must be upheld.
President Tinubu’s challenge, therefore, goes beyond the traditional political calculations. It’s about weaving together the various threads that make up Nigeria. It’s about acknowledging that every tribe, however small, has a place in the Nigerian story. It’s about understanding that every woman and every man, regardless of their origin, has a role to play in Nigeria’s destiny.
The world is watching, but more importantly, Nigerians are watching. The youth, who make up a significant portion of the population, are looking for signs that their country is ready to move beyond the old paradigms. They are seeking a government that reflects their aspirations, their diversity, and their Nigeria.
It’s a call to action for President Tinubu, one that goes beyond political expediency or personal preferences. It’s a call to create a government that resonates with every Nigerian’s heartbeat, that speaks in the multitude of Nigerian tongues, and that reaches out with the embrace of the Nigerian soul.
The administration must become a beacon of inclusiveness, a symbol of a country united, not just by lines on a map but by shared dreams and common goals. It must foster an environment where every citizen, regardless of ethnicity or religion, feels a part of the great Nigerian endeavor.
President Tinubu has the opportunity to set a precedent and lay the foundation for a Nigeria that stands tall in its diversity, harmonious in its differences, and robust in its unity.
The stakes are high, but so are the rewards. A government of inclusiveness is not just an ideal; it’s a necessity. It’s the pathway to a Nigeria that doesn’t just exist, but thrives. A Nigeria that doesn’t just hope but achieves. A Nigeria that doesn’t just sing of unity but lives it.
May President Tinubu heed the call. May he steer the ship of state with wisdom and courage, ensuring that the government is not a narrow reflection of a part but a radiant mirror of the whole.
Inclusiveness is not just a policy; it’s a principle, a value, and a way of governance. It’s the Nigerian way. The task now is to make it a Nigerian reality.
President Tinubu’s government stands at a critical juncture, where the choices made will shape Nigeria’s path forward. As the country watches with hope and expectation, the administration must be driven by an unwavering commitment to transparency, with clear and open processes in the selection of ministers and other key positions. It is more than an administrative task; it is a statement of values, setting the tone for governance that the people can trust.
Equitable representation must be at the forefront of these decisions, ensuring that all regions of Nigeria, every ethnic group, and both genders are given a fair and proportionate voice in governance. The nation’s rich tapestry of cultures, traditions, and voices must be honored in the corridors of power. This isn’t simply about numbers; it’s about recognising the inherent value and wisdom that come from diverse perspectives and the belief that all Nigerians, regardless of their background, have a rightful place at the table.
The principle of meritocracy must also be firmly anchored in these decisions, where appointments are awarded based on merit, qualifications, and proven track records rather than political, tribal, or familial connections. This goes beyond just ensuring the best candidates for the roles; it’s about dismantling systems of patronage and preference that have hampered progress in the past. It’s a commitment to excellence and integrity, to a Nigeria where success is determined by ability and effort, not by who you know.
In shaping a government that truly reflects the multifaceted identity of Nigeria, these imperatives not only foster trust and integrity but also harness the fullest potential of the country’s diverse talents and insights. It’s an ambitious undertaking, one that requires courage, wisdom, and an unshakable belief in the principles of justice and fairness.
But this is not just President Tinubu’s responsibility; it is a collective endeavour that necessitates the active participation of every layer of Nigerian society. The media, with its role as the watchdog of democracy, must pursue unbiased reporting and incisive analysis that keep the government’s feet to the fire. Civil society organisations, equipped with grassroots insights and the pulse of the people, must act as the conscience of the nation, shaping policies and advocating for justice. The judiciary must remain steadfast in its duty to interpret the law without fear or favour, upholding the principles that anchor our shared existence.
But beyond these institutions lies the role of every Nigerian citizen. From the bustling streets of Nigeria to the tranquil landscapes of its suburbs, each individual must awaken to their role in forging a nation that is not merely an assortment of disparate parts but a cohesive, harmonious whole. This means embracing dialogue over discord, empathy over enmity, and unity over division. It means recognising that our differences in tribe, religion, or socioeconomic status are not barriers but the beautiful threads that weave the rich tapestry of our nation.
It’s in this spirit of collaboration and shared purpose that Nigeria will rise to fulfill its promise. It’s a path that calls for patience, resilience, and an unwavering belief in its collective ability to overcome. The challenges are significant, the stakes are high, but the rewards are immeasurable.