The nation is obviously in a big mess. The pillars are falling and massive dislocation is evident all over. The ineffectiveness of our structures and processes is pulling on our social threads and the result is the conflicts hitting the nation left, right and centre. I have said already in my article last week that some of the crises that are destroying property, desecrating the sanctity attached to human life, promoting poverty, underdevelopment and threatening to disunite the country are products of deliberate instigations often by a few, who unfortunately like wear the toga of religion and ethnic semblances.
Recently, there have been disturbances in some parts of our country, if we were to say the truth, that it has been mainly within Christian dominated areas. As would be expected, especially given that some of the conflicts were very brutal, various reactions have followed the developments. It was not surprising to see such reactions highly reflective of the perspective and professional background of the interveners, place of origin and of course perceived interest. Those statements carried various levels of significance depending on the station and status of the speaker. The president for instance has been lampooned for been silent on some of the occasions and when he eventually met with stakeholders in the Benue State fatal incident, he was also criticized for placing more emphasis on the “locals” accommodating “the stranger elements” than on expressing angst on the savagery that took place in that state for which over 70 persons were brutally murdered.
Murder is murder and from available facts, it is a big crime in our statue and for that reason the right expectation was that the federal authorities ought to have sternly condemned the development and placed the focus on the immediate arrest of the barbarians and bringing them to face the wrath of the law. This line of action would have had a very salutary effect on the atmosphere, instill commonsense and thereafter engineering for social cohesion can follow. But this is not the government made and the policy position they put out, especially the plan to establish cattle colony in every state in a land space of about 5,000 hectares, has obviously let out a line of thought bordering on religion and ethnic advancements. Could this policy be the best? Should it have been mooted at the time it was done? Question and more questions!
Citizens’ reactions could have been different and negative sentiments avoided if our intentions had been known since independence to be altruistic and we have a national ideology to guide national development. Unfortunately, we don’t have, and our country has been governed according to the whims and caprices of each cabal. One of the consequences is the fear and mistrust it has created amongst the component parts of the country. But we must admit a truth and that is many times such mistrust has turned out to be reality. Some of the personalities that reacted, among them the former military president Ibrahim Babangida, called for caution and a stop to hate speech and nothing else. This kind of thinking coming especially from a citizen that has held high office adds to the problem it wants to solve. It also expands the gulf existing between the citizens on religious and ethnic grounds.
The attacks we have witnessed in recent times have been mainly against Christian settlements and if our former head of state, a known Muslim is proffering a reaction the natural expectation should be that he should condemn in very strong terms the dastardly invasion, killings and carnage inflicted on innocent people and call for the arrest and trials of the perpetrators.
When what they put out doesn’t flow in this sequence, it raises posers and leads people to question motives. The unfortunate scenario we seem to be having on our hands, if you like to call it a new pattern, is that this situation is a terrible one. We see conflicts and dislocations rather than lay the blame on the appropriate factors; we leave that and begin to talk about accommodation, hate speech and national unity being non-negotiable.
This altitude is like chasing a rat when one’s house is on fire. Opinion molders shout about conflicts, they call for peace but they are not stringent in equally calling for justice, equal rights and fair play. If they did, many of the problems we have on our hands leading to loss of lives would not be. If for instance our leaders had risen as one and subscribed that any citizen whose action leads to death of another is a criminal and should be treated as such, I can bet that some of the challenges we have today would not have arisen and even if they come up, solving them becomes very easy because everybody knows what to expect in a given circumstance.
Like I observed earlier, ours is a nation without standards, anything goes and it is this lacuna that each leader sizes to execute narrow religious and ethnic agenda at the expense of the people and the nation. At this point let me touch an issue I have repeated on several times on this page and other forums where I was privileged to speak on national issues and the place of the Black Man in world civilization. Today as things currently stand, I am ashamed to be a Black Man and of African origin.
The reason is simple: if we tell ourselves the truth we it will not be difficult for us to accept we are nowhere on the ladder of civilization. A few of us as individuals may have excelled in one vocation or the other but the number and impact is so insignificant compared to our population and endowments. I am not one of those abusing President Donald Trump of the United States of America for talking down on blacks and calling African nations “shitholes” rather I am happy somebody is waking us up from our self-induced stupidity.
In the 21st century when nations our age have joined the civilization highway with many of them joining the developed world to want to relocate to outer space, we in Africa especially Black Africa have turned our spaces to hell. We have both human and material resources and yet nothing works in our land instead we have deliberately created hunger, illiteracy, disease and general disorganization. We profess to be very religious but our spirituality is so negative that the only thing the hearts of our leaders conceive is evil, how to shortchange the people and make huge profits out of public service.
It is this mindset and its numerous outcomes that is responsible for our going round ethnic and religious issues at a time those factors should have served as an impetus to move us into the inner recesses of scientific exploits which would have served to make life more abundant for citizens and take them away from the path of war of attrition. We have refused to move and now like a stunted child we are sitting on the planks of ethnicity, religion and sometimes walking on the very narrow path; contrary to our expectations this choice is proving to be very costly. We know this and the question is for how long would this be?