I had no opportunity to visit Lagos until January 2015. Although I have lived in Abuja, I was longing to live in Lagos in order to confirm different stories I have heard about the city. Luckily, someone secured a job for me in December 2014. So, I moved to Lagos on January 4, 2015.
Fortunately, the company has two houses where any interested worker can live without paying. The two houses are situated at different places and one house is for male workers while the other house is for female workers. I chose to live at the company’s house for male workers because of its nearness to the company but I was the only Yoruba man among the workers living there. Others are from Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Kogi, Enugu and Cotonou.
After three months, I left the company due to compulsory work on Saturday. Surpringly, those people still accomodated me for another seven months despite the fact that I was working at another place during the time. They did not ask for anything and they did not inform the management. We lived like brothers till I left there in October 2015.
During the time I spent with them, I discovered that the cause of ethnic conflict in Nigeria is because we cannot tolerate one another. The fact is that there is no ethnic group without habits but we can only maintain unity when we know how to tolerate one another. We should stop stereotyping ethnic groups because it is one of the causes of enmity among us.
Mostly, the hatred we have for a particularly ethnic group was developed from what we have heard about them. Most of our opinions about different ethnic groups in Nigeria have been moulded since childhood based on what the elders told us. For example, an Igbo man who told his children that Yoruba people are betrayers will change the children impression of Yoruba people. This will make the children avoid doing any business with Yoruba people because of what they have been told.
Actually, every ethnic group in Nigeria has bad eggs but there are good ones in each ethnic group too. We can only discover the good things we can do for one another if we can tolerate one another. Then we will see that the good things we can do for one another are more than bad things we are seeing about one another. Some bad eggs in one ethnic group should not make us see everyone from that ethnic group as bad people.
Furthermore, our multi-ethnics should be our strength in Nigeria. We should not let our cultural and religious diversity cause ethnic conflict among us. Meanwhile, we should treat one another with respect and also be fair in our dealings. All ethnic groups need to join our hands to make Nigeria a better country. Let us learn how to tolerate one another because ethno-tolerance is a tool for national unity.
At this end, I will advise every ethnic group in Nigeria to remain united. Also, government should be fair in its dealings with all ethnic groups in Nigeria. Traditional rulers should also make their people understand the importance of tolerance to National unity and human relations. Say no to ethnic conflict. We are Nigerians.