By Sunny Ihikoya
NO challenge will be too difficult to overcome for a people united. Have you noticed how the #EndSARS protest is spreading? In trying to find solutions to the myriad of problems facing this nation, it is important that we consider all options available. In doing this, we should look at affliction or curses.
Is this a cursed nation? We should ask this question because when you are building a house and you have all the materials to cover from start to finish, including the best hands and you discover that after several years on the project, you are still at foundation level; you will not require any seer to let you know that something is wrong.
We have abundant mineral resources, good vegetation, good topography and very qualified and capable man power. Yet, we cannot feed ourselves, manufacture our own products from derivable raw materials and cannot create anything; something is definitely not right.
So, what is wrong? Is there a curse? Some are of the opinion that a people get the kind of leadership or government that they deserve. Are we getting the result of all of our pronouncements? As a people, have we ever wished to become a united country since we were brought together?
If we have wished to be separated, why are we complaining that there is no unity in the land? Do we now say that our present situation is a culmination of our combined wish for this country? Let us begin with the founding fathers.
In 1963, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe gave a public lecture, where he yearned for a situation where tribes will unite to achieve greatness for the country. According to him: “Tribalism is a reality, national unity can be a reality but at present, it is not quite a reality “.
For Chief Obafemi Awolowo: “Nigeria is not a nation, it is a mere geographical expression “. When we go further to get the views of Sir Ahmadu Bello and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, we will know where we are coming from.
Addressing Congress in 1953, Ahmadu Bello had this to say: “The mistake of 1914 has come to light and I should like it to go no further “. Tafawa was reported by the Time Magazine of October 10, 1960 to say:
“Since 1914, the British government has been trying to make Nigeria into one country, but the Nigerian people themselves are historically different in their backgrounds, in their religious beliefs and customs and do not show themselves any sign of willingness to unite…Nigerian unity is only a British invention”.
That was the foundation we had, where our leaders did not show any willingness to have a truly united country and subsequent events that led to the civil war and several changes of governments will buttress this.
What I am trying to point out here is: Right from the beginning, our people did not desire for a united nation of Nigerian ethnic groups and, what you do not desire, you cannot have. I am trying to show that unless all ethnic nations come together and agree that the Nigerian state will be paramount, that day our situation will begin to change.
I am trying to establish the fact that as a result of this situation, instead of trying to build and come up with solutions, Nigerans are more interested in cursing their own country and its leadership.
We have also seen these curses as easy way out to pour out our frustrations and relieve our individual stress; but after the venting of frustrations, the problem remains. I want to suggest that we, henceforth, concentrate on the solutions to the problems. If we are united and agree for a common solution, it will be easier for us to move forward.
When we unite to confront challenges, it will be difficult for even the leaders to manipulate the people.
For now, we must concentrate on why Nigerians rain curses on their country and leaders. Is it that the people do not love their country? Is it the belief that nothing good can come out of the country?
If this is the case, why is it that the people do not love their country? Can this situation be reversed? Because, you cannot curse or wish evil for what you love; how do we make the citizens to begin to love Nigeria as a nation? This is the challenge that we face today as a nation.
It is also important to differentiate here, the concepts of curses and criticism. Curses are swear words or statements that bode evil for the recipient or opposition. It is usually done out of hatred, frustration and outright malice.
Therefore, it is not meant to build but to destroy. The avalanche of fake news that we see today in the social media is borne out of such sentiments, products of hate and not good for societal development.
Criticisms, on the other hand, are targeted at the weak points of structures, institutions, individuals, group of people and government. It is, therefore, of benefit if the recipient or opposition sees it in good faith.
Some criticisms are targeted at changing things for good, while others are targeted at weakening opposition. The good and objective criticism is a nation-building instrument; that is why leadership is always advised to accept criticism in good faith, even if, at times the intentions are not so noble.
An enlightened and forward-looking society will always accept a good criticism for what it is and will react accordingly. Because of our own subjective history, we have muddled up everything: tribalism, religion, cronyism, cultism and other things that have held the country from moving forward.
The worst is that leadership has taken cue; so people expect things to remain the same, as long as it is to their personal or group advantage; no matter how dysfunctional this is to the overall progress of the nation.
That is the situation that we have found ourselves today. What can be done to make Nigerians resolve to remain in the country no matter the circumstances of our economic situation? What can bring belief back to the consciousness of the average Nigerian?
Can the present leadership initiate such turnaround? What are the requirements? The answer lies in what one time leader of the old Soviet Republic told the world: “….All the people of Soviet Union are equal, and everyone of them, within the limits of his possibilities, advances to the common cause.”
That is the first line of action to take: treating each and every unit as equal, independent and mutually interdependent. We must put love first, before anything. Love for the country and its people, no matter the religious and ethnic diffrences.
That is the stepping stone to a great nation and it is what will remove the curses from the mouths of the citizens. The leadership at all levels must show selflessness.
In Italy, the representatives recently voted to cut parliament by more than a third (67%). The number of members of parliament) in the lower House will be reduced from 634 to 400. It is also reported that the Senate will also downsize.
How can we begin to make our National Assembly members see the need to review the bloatedness in their set up? It is time for people to come out and take necessary action instead of cursing and living miserably.
It is time for citizens rights to be properly spelt out to them. Religious groups must be encouraged to propagate the positive side of religion and not the divisive and jihadist kind.
Ethnic groups must become more integrated, with common goals for nation building. They must be ready to take their destinies in their hands, not complainers, but active partakers.
Ethnic groups must set up committees that will oversee all of the interests of their individual nations and relationships with the whole and other groups but, in this instance, they must be careful in their choice of representatives.
The opposition parties must provide alternative solutions to the failed government projects, not just condemnation for the sake of it, especially when we are not in an electioneering period.
Still on the part of the federal government, it must institute a true republic, in the sense of a true federalism. If there is a true federal government, there will be no cause for the leadership to fear rebellion.
As it is presently, it appears that only the leadership and their relatives and friends are gathering for the rainy day. But, that will not be necessary if every group is treated equally and fairly, that way, there will be no curses and nobody will be talking about a breakup.
Ihikoya wrote via southsouthecho.com