ALL politics are local, say experts. But body of aspiring priests in Awka feel strongly against ethnicity in Nigeria politics. last Saturday the Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC), of Pope John Paul II Major Seminary, Okpuno, Awka South Local Government Area, Anambra State, organised a seminar to address one of the very hard-to-crack political and social issues in Nigeria, titled, ‘Ethnic Diversity: The Bane of Nigerian Politics.’
In a welcoming address, the JDPC Secretary, Henry Kosisochukwu Okoli, stated that the theme for the day seeks to address how ethnicity influences governance in the country. He quoted Pope John Paul in an audience with children of peace on May 12, 2015, as stating,” we are all equal; all of us, but this truth is not recognized and for this reason, some people are, we can say, happier than others. But this is not right. When we do not see this, society is unjust. It does not follow the rule of justice and where there is no justice, there is is no peace.”
He further stressed the need for all ethnic groups in Nigeria to develop a sense of oneness and relegate nepotism, tribalism and ethnic marginalization in politics to the background, adding that they may have different languages and skin colour but belong to the human race.
In his opening remarks, a key note speaker, Rev Fr Benjamin L. Elewelu, stated that there is serious need to address the ethnic diversity in the country. He described Nigeria as a fragment of nations and said that the colonial masters did not really pay attention when amalgamating the country. “But what has been done has been done so we have to move forward with our differences”.
One of the guest speakers in the event, Rev Fr Dr Emmanuel Umezinwa defined ethnicity as a social construct with which people identify themselves which has nothing to do with genetics, biology or traits, pointing out that Nigeria is the 18th most ethnically diverse country in the world.
Father Umenzinwa further observed that ethnic diversity can be seen as a challenge or strength rather than as a problem. He also mentioned that Amsterdam, London and Los Angeles are the most ethnic diversified cities in the world, but Los Angeles is richer than most countries in the world.
The lead paper presenter and Professor of Political Science, Aloysius M. Okolie, who is also Director of Joint Universities Preliminary Examination Board, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, while addressing the seminarians, stated that “in all my trips to the United States, i observed as the United States takes advantage of every tribe for both their benefits. For example, when it comes to sport that is strength consuming, they mostly look for the blacks, when it comes to their engineering department, they are likely to involve the Asians and Jews. Our problem especially with we easterners is not marginalization, it is marginality.
Prof Okolie further stated that marginality is the denial of some groups certain rights in a tribe while marginalization is the denial of a tribal/ethnic tribe, adding that injustice is injustice whether inter tribal or intra tribal. He urged all to be agents of change and get rid of tribalism, while still maintaining ones cultural identity.
Chairman and moderator of the paper presentations, Mr David Osunde, expressed his joy stating that he was impressed that young Nigerians are still interested in the country. He also urged and encouraged the group to continue in their quest to source for solution that will help the country move forward.
Highlights of the event include drama, music presentation, comedy, award of certificates and launching of magazines.
Also speaking, the editor of the school’s magazine and MC of the event, Anthony Izuchukwu Anojulu, said it was their yearly tradition to host a social and political discuss.
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