To President Buhari: “Mr. President, thank you for the opportunity to be in your presence. I have come here to tell you to build a New Nigeria by working with the National Assembly to abolish “state of origin”. More than 90% of our national problems are connected to that line in our national forms where irrespective of where one has lived, that individual remains tethered to his or her biological ancestral roots.
“Sir, I have a cousin, Kelechi “KC”. He has lived in Katsina state for 33 years. He was born there. His children are all born there also; none speaks Igbo language. I was with them during Christmas: “Katsina is home” and Hausa is the first language. Despite KC’s family connection to Katsina, his children and his entire family will still have to fill Isuikwuato LGA (Abia state) as a local government area of origin in everything in Nigeria. Largely, Nigeria makes it impossible for KC to participate in a community he was born in!
“We need you to change this abnormality of “state of origin” to “state of residence”. Through that mechanism, what would matter is where you live and how many years you have lived there to establish residence.
“If we build that structure, we will drive to make people see where they live as their eternal community, and that would make them do everything necessary to make it thrive. With this, KC can run for electoral opportunities and explore opportunities like scholarships available in Katsina. The same will happen in Abia state for many people from Kano state who have made Umuahia home for decades.
“Until Nigeria does this, we will continue to underperform and our racial lines will not be blurred. A child named Kunle Abiola, born in Aba (Abia State) by native Ogun state citizens, and whose parents moved to Sokoto after his 12th birthday, but applying for a university admission will simply put state of residence “Sokoto”, with no connection to Abia state or Ogun state. Nigeria will treat him as a citizen of Nigeria, living in Sokoto, enjoying all rights which are available to other kids in Sokoto who have lived at least 3 years to establish residence in that state. Kunle after graduation can move to Enugu, establish residence, and compete for electoral office to represent Enugu state.
It is time for Nigeria to make this leap. Do it and have a legacy because it would make Nigeria better and advance the wellbeing of everyone.”
(Mitt Romney was born in Michigan state, became a governor of Massachusetts state, and today is a Senator from Utah state. Nigeria needs to make such possible through state of residence, and not state of origin. We need to be Nigerians, and nothing more.)---