“Wanted: A Just & Brotherly Nigerian Nation”
Political and ethnic-religion crises across the country have now assumed an unprecedented dimension. Hundreds of lives and properties estimated at millions of naira are being wasted regularly through communal, tribal, political and religious clashes in the country. This has clearly shown that Nigerians more than ever before, are now sharply divided politically, religiously and tribally.
DailyTrust newspaper of 21st Nov, 2002, pg 1, reported that no less than 32,000 Nigerians who were displaced by communal clashes in Adamawa and Taraba States are currently stranded in different parts of the North-West province of Cameroon. This is lamentable? In some states of the federation, notably Kaduna, Kano and Plateau, all these clashes have become a recurring decimal. People here are increasingly and pathetically relocating their residences to areas where their faithfuls are in the majority. This scenario clearly depicts a society that is undoubtedly sharply divided.
Politics and democracy is about development, since democracy ensures representative governance and equitable distribution of resources. This further explains why military dictatorship is universally unfashionable today.
Differences in language are not accidental either. The creator, the Almighty God, could not have made a mistake by making human beings express their thoughts and feelings in different languages. Even animals of the wild forest uniquely express their thoughts and feelings differently. Our being together in the geo-political entity called Nigeria in spite of our cultural, social, tribal and religious differences is neither coercive nor historical accident.
All these as it were, are meant for our overall good. Unfortunately, however, it would seem as if events and happenings have continued to prove that we are a people no longer united nor have faith in the enterprise called Nigeria.
There is, of course, no nation in the world that is completely free from problems, especially social, political and economic problems. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Afghanistan, the Liberian, the Ivorian, the Iraqi conflicts etc., are testimonies that many nations have problems. Nigeria’s case, therefore, cannot be an exception. However, each of these nations has its unique difficulties and peculiarities.
As the year 2002 and the other proceeding years with their attendant ugliness have gone, there must be a renewed commitment on the part of everybody, especially the youth, opinion leaders and political leaders to ensure that the year 2003 and beyond shall witness the development of a new Nigeria where tolerance, security, peace, brotherly love and prosperity reigns.
To achieve this, it is necessary to consider the following. The youth, who have suddenly become willing tools and agents of destruction in the hands of selfish and unpatriotic Nigerians, should resolve henceforth that they have a stake in this great country Nigeria and should shun violence and destruction. Our grievances, whatever they are, should be articulated and resolved through dialogue using the basic acceptable societal and lawful channels. The Youth should realize that doing the contrary would only amount to destroying our future. The elders have already laid their foundations and built upon it. They can afford to toy with the country but certainly not the youth who have a greater stake in this country.
Ethnic diversities, as I have earlier mentioned, are meant as it were, for the overall good of mankind. They create excitement, love and affinity and, above all, make communication and understanding the merrier. Imagine the joy that one has when he suddenly meets his fellow tribesman in faraway place outside of his immediate community – the joy that arises from the fact of speaking the same language. Therefore, misunderstandings that arise amongst different ethnic groups should be resolved peacefully through dialogue. Our forefathers were apparently aware of the importance of dialogue and resolved their differences through dialogue, using different levels of peace forum to achieve this.
Religious sentiments over the years have undoubtedly resulted in clashes, which have incalculable damage to lives and properties in the country. Towards the later part of 2002, a publication in ThisDay newspaper suddenly evoked sentiments; crises erupted and many lives and properties were destroyed in some parts of the country.
There is absolute need on the part of all, whether Christians or Muslims to eschew religious intolerance. Neither Islam nor Christianity permits the killing of a neighbor and destruction of properties on account of religious differences. It is truism that people have used religion to foster their fiendish causes. It is however, time for us all to stand up and say no to this.
Encompassing all these is leadership. It was John F. Kennedy that once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” This statement undoubtedly, called for dedication, selfless service and unparallel patriotism on the part of our leaders and by extension, the citizenry.
The general disposition of our leaders by and large, leaves much to be desired. The general consensus is that before you can bring out the best in a man, you have to provide him with a conducive atmosphere, which will not only enhance his performance but also inspire him to great deeds.
Conducive atmosphere in this context refers to good health facilities, justice and fair-play, a healthy economic and political environment and availability of functioning social amenities. All these will help to create a peaceful climate, which can inspire the citizenry to do well and thereby release their talents and creativity in full force.
Our leaders at all levels rather than try to achieve these, have consistently preoccupied themselves with all manners of strategies to under-develop the country. They embezzle public funds, instigate religious, political and ethnic crises – all to foster their evil causes.
Our leaders and would-be leaders should heed the wise counsel of the late American President, John F. Kennedy. They should strive to leave their footprints in the sand of Nigerian history by doing things that will make Nigeria great. It is only by leadership predicated on dedication, selfless service, patriotism, and justice and fair-play that we can truly build a more just and brotherly Nigerian nation.
Culled from Our VISSION magazine, Vol. 4, N0.2, 2003