Friday, February 10, 2017 8:36 am
By Adegbenro Adebanjo
This is not the best of times for Nigeria. Inflation is spiraling out of control and many compatriots can barely eke out a living. Life is becoming nasty, brutish and short. Internecine wars of various hues are all over the place with brothers mauling down brothers in the most brutal fashion. And there is no let up yet from the marauding Boko haram militants in the North Eastern region who continue to inflict misery on the land with hit and run bombings and killings in spite of the technical victory declared by the military high command and Authorities.
Some criminals with the garb of herdsmen are literally pouring petrol on the raging inferno with mindless and mind boggling decimation of whole villages and assassination of inhabitants. Indeed when it was declared recently that over 250 people have been mowed down in the ‘war’ going on in the North it became clear that we have another major crisis in our land. Yes it is a war. And a very dangerous one at that because of its religious bent. Or how best can you describe a situation where some persons and their homesteads are burnt and entire villages sacked and all living things obliterated.
However more than this, the clear and present danger is the loss of empathy and our common humanity. Nigerians have never been this divided along ethnic, religious and political lines. Solidarity has broken down and we continue to emphasize and dwell on those primordial issues that divide us. We are carrying on as if we are no longer a country of common destiny. The hate in the land is palpable and the angst suffocating. There is feeling of alienation by a sizable number of our compatriots. There is no attempt at consensus building. All issues have become contest of Propaganda when it should be a Contest of ideas couched in Refined and parliamentary language. The tenor and manner of the debate about Project Nigeria on all platforms is frightening and should worry all men of goodwill and those who mean well for Nigeria. All sides of the divide are taking absolute positions.
It should be noted that unanimity of opinion can never be the hallmark of a pluralistic society like Nigeria. It is time to stop branding those who proffer alternative viewpoints as saboteurs who must be run out of town. For any government or organizations who want to do well the critics should be taken more seriously than the praise singers. Those who are thinking of expressing their misgivings in one way or the other should be allowed to do so peacefully within the ambits of the law. Those who are in support of the current order should also mobilize to support it without accusing the other side of sabotage.
We are all stakeholders and one of the cardinal principles of democracy is the right to hold opinion and freely disseminate it within the ambit of the law. Those in charge of information should TELL it as it is as at when due. All issues relating to governance and those at its commanding heights should be fairly accessible to the people who put them there in the first place. When you hoard information you encourage rumour and vile propaganda. And presenting alternative truths which is a roundabout way of cover up will not work.
And for Nigerians who want to go to war for and on behalf of those currently holding the levers of power they miss the point big time. Indeed if you believe that Nigeria has more than one political party with differing ideological leaning, you are deluding yourself. Nigeria since 1999 has always been a one party state. And the only party that has been in power since 1999 is AGIP, Any Government In Power. It has changed colour, name and insignia but it remains the only party that the power mongers love and flock to and it does not disappoint them. That is where your share of the national cake is better guaranteed. And when those steering it at a particular time lose out the new drivers of AGIP will sooner than later take them back. The party must continue and the more the merrier.
The difference between the political parties in Nigeria is that between Six and half a dozen. Nigerians should simply ignore the shenanigans of the politicians and their petty and often contrived squabbles. What should concerned the generality of Nigerian is how the government can become more responsive to their needs and enunciate and implement programmes and policies that will lift people out of poverty and guarantee peace and security in the polity. The main task now is the building of institutions of good governance and democracy and not strongmen. We should continue to campaign for the strengthening of such institutions instead of queuing behind strongmen with selfish and parochial agenda.
At a time like this when the country is at the crossroads there is the need for a paradigm shift at all levels. And if there is any new compelling reason why we must change course and make Nigeria work, it is the ultra-nationalistic posture of Donald Trump, the new tenant of the White House. America is now for Americans and must work for Americans. Other countries in the Western hemisphere will soon toe the Trump path. So what does that TELL us? We must sit down and talk, then follow the talk with work and make Nigeria work for the good of its people. If a major crisis happens in Nigeria we will all be in trouble. So let’s stop beating the drums of war, of religious and ethnic rhythms. Let us sit down and chart a new course for our country, let us tap into the ingenuity of our people and the multiple blessings God has endowed us with to make Nigeria work for all of us. Yes, Nigeria can be great again. If we want it to be.
Adebanjo sent this piece via firstname.lastname@example.org