Ethnic communities and how they can grow into the new Nigeria.
We have noted in the beginning of this discussions that the recovery of Nigeria cannot be achieved without the recovery of the social and industrial values of the ethnic communities. In this post we seek to outline some of the previous functions of the ethnic communities that comprise Nigeria.
Nigeria has about 250 ethnic groups, 36 states and 774 local governments. Each of the local governments in Nigeria contains between 5-20 towns and their villages. The towns are what we refer to in this post as ethnic community. They are groups of people, who share close ancestral lineage and have submitted themselves under one traditional ruler. A man, woman and his children make up a family; groups of families who descend from the same lineage make up a kindred; groups of kindred who share ancestral lineage make up a village, and group of villages who share common space under one traditional leadership make up a town (ethnic community).
Ethnic communities are groups of villages who have submitted themselves under the leadership of one traditional ruler. These villages are governed by chiefs who report to the paramount ruler of the ethnic community. The paramount ruler on his part administers the whole community with the help of his ministers, the village chiefs and their ministers. The village chiefs are often elected by representatives from the different kindred in the community.
The different ethnic communities in the present Nigeria had devised their own means of managing, securing and defending their environment or had adopted and adapted the means of environmental management used in other communities. The Awka people of present southeast of Nigeria had their blacksmiths who melted and casted iron to develop farming and hunting implements. The Benin people had their terra cotta, the Ajaokuta had their own blacksmiths, the Ife had their craftsmen; all the ethnic communities had organized systems of producing what they could and trading what their excess produce for what they did not have.
The young men had organized systems of executing community projects. They tasked themselves according to families on the material contributions for any major projects. When the materials for the projects were gathered, the young men came out en-masse to work on community roads using shells, on community streams using palm stems and other trees, on community market stalls using their physical strength and acquired skills, on community security using locally made weapons and physical power, on community hospitals, houses and halls, using their contributed funds, local expertise and combined manpower.
The advent of unitary government eliminated the sense of commitment to the development of one’s community. It relegated the ethnic structures that guaranteed communal responsibility, and took over the control of mineral resources in all the lands in the federal republic, as well as the administration of the imposed ‘civil federal’ government, with the promise of developing the communities at its discretion.
Presently, the federal government is unable to account for or attend to thousands of ethnic communities that make up the federal republic, and cannot fulfil the promise of development and security for which it took over the right to resources, and the responsibility for the development of the ethnic communities.
This is why the communities must be allowed access to their resources, and the promise of federal distribution and balance of resources be reneged. When communities compete among themselves for development of their environment, the whole areas of the country, will wake up from the waiting for federal allocation. They will search deeper for both human and mineral resources that will be used to develop their lands.
They will only have to pay taxes or some agreed percentage of their output to a central government for security and management of the whole society.