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The wall and the bridge

ECONOMY

Chukwumerije Dike at the 23rd Nigerian Economic Summit

Every year, people across the economic industry and the nation come together to share ideas and give an in-depth analysis of all the major economic interactions both across the globe and the local domains. They discuss the impact these interactions have on the different segments of our nation’s economy.  Since the first Nigerian Economic summit held on the 18- 20th February 1993, at Abuja, economic stakeholders are consciously aware of the solutions they have to subsequently expand the growth of the Nigeria economic sphere.

This year the 23rd Nigerian Economic Summit (#NES23) was held from the 10th October to the 12th October 2017, at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja. As expected, many dignitaries and powerbrokers were present at the summit, with the theme: “Opportunities, Productivity & Employment: Actualizing the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.” The summit had thematic discussions surrounding Think Nigeria; Skills, competencies & capacity; Access to Capital; Legislations & Economic Inclusion, among others.

With an inclusive discourse surrounding digitalization, Manufacturing, Mass and low income housing, Strategic investment options, frameworks, models and business cases for unlocking capital flows that creates job opportunities, How best to map economic opportunities to specific market skills to ensure talent competitiveness, links between economic opportunities, skills and competencies and the right education pipeline that delivers them.

It is therefore not surprising when Chukwumerije Dike was invited to the podium to deliver a speech wherein he delivered his poem “The Wall and the Bridge”.  He introduces his speech with the popular line; “Things fall apart, the center cannot hold, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”. A poem by W. B Yeats popularised by Chinua Achebe’s novel. Here is the transcript of the poem:

If a white man turned and called  me “nigger”,

My blood will boil in righteous anger.

For the evil of discrimination is clearly established,

When a white man tries to treat me like rubbish.

 

But if Hausas say Igbos are greedy and crude

And Igbos say Hausa are haughty and rude

And the Ijaws say Itsekiri must die today

And Ezza tells  Ezilo, there is no other way

 

If Yorubas declare it is Awo or nothing

And we use “Federal character” to share everything

So before you can even smile and tell me “Welcome”,

You must first ask me where my father is from.

 

If those who were settlers but now indigenes,

Say those who are settlers can’t become indigenes,

And the constitution says we are all citizens

Local government keeps issuing certificates of origin

 

If my brother pass Jamb but can’t go to Uni,

Because he is Tiv and he is not Kanuri

And Unimed has a quota for his catchment area

So he must go back to Benue or wait one more year.

 

If it’s ok to say it’s not ok to marry someone

Just because they are Kalabari

That every tribe should have its own tide

Are we not then practicing …Apartheid?

 

If you cannot buy land unless you are native,

And cannot find work unless you are native,

And cannot feel safe unless you are native,

How can we then say we are not primitive?

 

Yet, you go to London and get their passport,

Then settle wherever and however you want,

You stand there and fight for equality

But come back and start to use ethnicity.

 

I don’t get the logic of thinking of it is different

to be tribalistic and then to be racist,

If you are happy to judge him just hearing his name,

Whatever you call it my friend, it’s the same.

 

When there is no courage to cross this divide,

When there is no faith to look deep inside

And stop judging accents and surnames and dressing

This fire we are quenching would only keep burning.

 

Which nation can stand dividing its people?

How can one build on foundation so brittle?

If we cannot see ourselves in each other

This journey ends here we are going no further.

 

For when God made man, he gave him no facial marks

He did not make “Gbagi”, “Okun” or “Angas”

As sure as a black man is just like a white man,

No culture is older than being human

 

This is the truth until we accept it,

Our nation would stumble on its broken feet.

For the same things that can bind us that drives us apart,

For the wall and the bridge are both in the heart.

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Adepeju Adenuga

Adepeju Adenuga is a writer (considering where you are reading this, makes perfect sense). She holds a Masters Degree in Literature in English from the University of Lagos.

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