Nigeria we hail thee, our own dear native land, though tribe and tongue may differ in brotherhood we can stand. If only we; Whilst the rest of the world and Africa is celebrating some of our own, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Akinwunmi Adesina and Amina Mohammed, we are here killing ourselves over the place of rotten tomatoes in Shasha in Oyo State, and the fear of people we have lived with for years taking over our community. We are discussing what cows should eat, where they should walk, how AK 47 loaded guns should be used to guard them in Bauchi state, whilst terrorist kill scores in Sokoto and kidnap students in Niger State. How about the beheading of clerics in Borno and militia herders wrecking havoc on defenseless farmers in Ondo, Benue, Plateau and Taraba States, then kidnapping villagers, students and travelers in Katsina, Edo, Ogun and Kogi states. But those who should protect us say we should grant amnesty to deadly terrorists in Borno and Zamfara while peaceful protesters in Lagos are brutalized and terrorized by the police and rape victims in Kaduna and Nasarawa States are asked to make the bed and accommodate their rapists on clean sheets.
Yet the President is holed up somewhere with occasional press releases from his aides. Yet the victim in all this is neither compensated, nor assured hope of a better tomorrow, even though, they, (the victims) are falling over one another to elect the same people, who have consistently shown lack of capacity, into yet another round of leadership positions come 2023 for as little as N500 per vote, despite still waiting for the promised democratic dividends. We just de fool ourselves. No wonder they are busy jumping from one party to another, pretending to want to serve the people. Una well done, Jumpology mass servers. I no blame them. I weep for Nigeria, not for lack of wise people, but because we have allowed intellectually disabled people, who have invested heavily in violence, ignorance, turbulence and poverty to take over the reign of the intelligent ones.
We have allowed the lawless, pretending as praetorian guards, to rule over the law abiding ones. And nobody can rescue us but ourselves. According to Agba Jalingo, “Years after independence we are still going round this circutous rigmarole. The same fears and anxieties that tormented the carapace of our minds for decades, have continued to hover over us like an absurd goblin. This is not necessarily because we hate each other or anyone wants to take over another’s homeland. But because the State has relinquished large swathes of the country to non-state gang lords and ethnic supremos, who now appropriate, and colonize slices of the country on their own terms, whilst in some cases, pretending to guard same for the interest of the larger all.” Marauders, militants, ethnic warriors, kidnappers, armed bandits, terrorist, just name it and its replicated somewhere or everywhere in Nigeria with active connivance of state actors and leadership silence.
While we celebrate the opportunities given to Nigerians in Canada, USA, Australia and other modern countries, to visit, reside, work, become citizens and even aspire to elective positions therein, yet we refuse fellow Nigerians the same opportunity to grow or stand for elective positions in their state of residence, simply because they are non-indigenes of such states? Even though that’s the only home they know, having lived and in some cases grew businesses and inter marry in these places. No, they are only good for population census and voting, but definitely not to be voted for. This mindset must change. You celebrate your kids born in America and Canada becoming citizens of these countries, but still address, kids born in your state on the basis of state of origin of their parents, claiming it’s the constitution. If this is not hypocrisy, then tear your dictionary.
Until we change that mind set, we would not commence the journey of creating a place you can call a country. A government sworn to guarantee the welfare and security of her people, has left these same people at the mercy of killers, militias, and war mongers, while looking for reserves for cows and guns to protect herders, shouldn’t be shocked when citizens take laws into their hands and journalist report the stories with a touch of falsehood. I will therefore advocate, that until we put Nigeria in the hands of people who understand, what the constitution says when it stated that the security, welfare, education, health, freedom to co-exist and the ability to deal with criminality irrespective of tongue or tribe are paramount to the existence of any nation, we might just be sitting on a keg of smoking gun powder, already exploding before our very eyes.
And to avert this, we must agree to agree and agree to disagree peacefully, co-existentially and return to a Nigeria where Kabiru Ahmed from Katsina State became a Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development in Lagos State without anyone asking where he is from, but his competence. A Nigeria where Alhaji Umaru Altine from the North beat an Igbo contestant to emerge the first Mayor of Enugu in Eastern Nigeria in the 1st Republic. A Prof. Pat Utomi should be able to contest election in Lagos where he has lived all his life than in Delta State, his state of origin, where he is hardly lived. A Nigeria where Chinedu Anyanwu from Imo State can walk up to Alhaji Sule Galadima in Kano to ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage without fear of a mob attack from youths in the locality.
A Nigeria where Bashir Abdullahi from Bauchi State won’t be scared to send his kids to Amanayabo Secondary School in Yenogua in Bayelsa without knowing anybody therein. It’s possible; if only we talk with one another, not minding our tribe or tongue and we the followers are determined to make it happen; Government must invest more in education, even though we all can’t be educated, as some will always do menial jobs or become herders. The more educated and knowledgeable we are as a people, the more accommodating and rational we will become. Even though in Nigeria education does not guarantee tolerance, it will at least reduce our ignorance and hypocrisy
• Liborous Oshoma Esq. is a Lagos-based lawyer and public analyst