Unity Schools: Solving Nigeria’s Disunity Problem

The biggest problem in Nigeria is not corruption as many would believe. The biggest problem Nigeria has is disunity. The disunity in Nigeria translates into other problems like tribalism, corruption, lawlessness etc.

While many would want to argue that the greatest problem facing Nigeria is corruption, I beg to disagree. Fighting corruption as we have always done has not solved many of the problems plaguing Nigeria.

Nigeria is a country that is currently divided along strong religious and ethnic lines. Our nation is highly diverse with over 250 ethnic groups. More than 500 languages are spoken within the confines of Nigeria.

In many cases, diversity is a blessing. In Nigeria, diversity is the main cause of disunity. How does one bring the various groups that make up Nigeria under one common umbrella?

The Federal Government had the perfect answer: encourage unity and cooperation among Nigerian youths. After the civil war, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program was created to promote unity and development of common ties among Nigerian youths. For decades, this system worked.

In recent times, the NYSC has ceased to serve its basic function: promoting unity and common ties. The Federal Government had the right idea of promoting unity among the youths. The youths are the future of Nigeria.

Encouraging unity and common ties used to start before the university level. The many Unity Schools the Federal Government established were the fertile ground for sowing unity among Nigerians. But sadly, we’ve neglected our sacred duties.

Unity schools are secondary schools which were established and funded by the Federal Government. The purpose of these special secondary schools was to provide good education while fostering unity and ties among Nigerian children from different backgrounds.

The first Unity school established was King’s College which opened its doors in 1909. This was followed by the establishment of Queen’s College in 1927. After independence, three more schools were established in Warri, Sokoto, and Okposi.

Between 1973 and 1974, 17 more Unity Schools were created. Their development came after the 3- year Nigerian civil which threatened to destroy the entity known as Nigeria. In these colleges, students from both North and South interacted without ethnic and religious biases.

National unity was promoted as children from different cultures, ethnic groups, religions, and backgrounds are nurtured together. Friendships that span lifetimes were forged in Unity Schools. It was a golden time for the Nigerian dream.

These days, the standards in Unity schools have fallen below that of other schools. Lack of proper funding, teaching equipment, and amenities have laid waste to what was once the beacon of learning and Unity in Nigeria.

To solve the many ethno-religious problems plaguing Nigeria today, we have to go back to the basics. The Unity schools served a purpose which is still very important today. Fostering unity and brotherly love amidst the various tribes of Nigeria is just as important now as it was after the civil war.

Increased funding and proper management will breathe new life into the Federal Government Colleges. Creating more unity schools when the standard of existing ones are high will encourage parents to send their children to them. Our dream of achieving a united Nigeria is just some schools away from actualization.

© 2020 Herbert O. Wigwe