The first part of this piece was published almost five months ago, and the decision to jettison publication of the concluding part was deliberately informed by the need to ascertain whether the new partnership forged since that time, between the Youths Assembly of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo on one part, and Surveyor Kabir M. Mansur, Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the Surveyors Council of Nigeria on the other hand, could mature and pass the true test of time.
With ethnic tension rising almost by the hour in this country of ours, this column believes media personalities, and indeed all Nigerians, have big roles to play to avoid our unfortunate dance to the Rwanda-type genocide, which led to the killing of over a million mostly-innocent citizens of that great country.
It is in this wise that this column always appreciates, and tries to celebrate even if in a little way, all Nigerians making genuine efforts towards ensuring peace and harmony in Nigeria.
Of course we have on countless occasions also dwelt on social injustice as the primary reason deepening ethnic mistrust and serving as fertile ground for the insecurity pervading the land. But then, social injustice is not just for the federal government to ensure. State governors, federal and state legislators, the judiciary and indeed all segments of the society have a big role to play there.
You cannot as a governor, be a dictator in your state and be labelling the federal government with tar-brush all the time. Some of us treat their families or subordinates at work in a most wicked way. Yet, we are quick to label our leaders as wicked and unconscienable.
Now, after five months of somewhat close observation, it is clear that the partnership between the Igbo youths and Surveyor Kabir has not only continued to deepen, but that new grounds are being opened in the overall interest of national integration.
At that time, I wrote as follows: Last week Thursday, something of deep significance to the unity of this country happened in a small corner of Abuja. At the Surveyors Council of Nigeria (SURCON), the Ohaneze Ndigbo Youths Assembly, led by its President-General, Prince Emmanuel Tabugbo Chikwendu, was bestowing a well deserving honour to Surveyor Kabir M. Mansur, a patriot of a very deep hue. Kabir is by tribe a Fulani from Katsina State.
Anybody living in Nigeria knows the brewing tension between the Igbos and the Fulanis, with the Eastern Security Network taking it upon itself to chase away all Fulani herdsmen, including their wives and children, from the five states that make up south-eastern Nigeria.
So a major Igbo group coming all the way to Abuja, purposely to honour a Fulani man was virtually unthinkable at this point in time. But it is said that impossibility exists only in the mind of the pessimist. Surely, the Ohaneze Ndigbo is a major optimist socio-cultural group rooting for the very best for the Igbos, including showcasing the very rich culture and tradition of Igbo speaking Nigerians.
Which award was the group bestowing on Surveyor Mansur Kabir? The illustrious group was conferring on the man the big honour of Omeziri Ndi-Igbo Nke Mbu of Nigeria, and the recognition was based on what the Youths Assembly rightly described as the Registrar’s record of excellence, which includes his trademark open-door policy that has seen him treating Nigerians of diverse backgrounds equally.
It was an honour on the person of Surveyor Kabir, but all staff members of SURCON based in the Abuja headquarters, including members of the top management team, were on hand to lend their firm support to their friend and boss. For them, as BRASS TACKS later found out, Surveyor Kabir was not just their boss, but also their friend and big brother. They said the man operates a policy that makes all of them feel completely at home, with staff welfare, within the limited resources available to SURCON, accorded top priority.
The organisation itself is a reflection of what a true diverse society should be. From the most junior to the management staff, there was an even distribution of almost all tribes in the country. SURCON is a mini-Nigeria. Just step at the place and see for yourself.
It was praises galore for the man who represents the very best that this nation has on offer. From one management staff to the other, including some of the important guests that were in attendance to honour this patriot, everyone spoke of one special attribute or the other that stands Surveyor Kabir out from the crowd. One word that everyone at the event kept repeating in describing the man was the fact of his being non-detribalised.
After all the fine speeches, it was the turn of the celebrant to make his remarks. And he took about an hour lecturing all that were gathered there about the need for us as Nigerians to accept to continue living together, inspite of the few in our midst exarcabeting our national fault-lines. He brought to fore the real meaning and implications of war, which some proponents of destibalisation do not seem to know about, saying very correctly that once war erupts in any society, no one knows whether at the end of it all, he is going to remain alive to tell the bitter story.
The Registrar, who is also a distinguished Fellow of the Institution of Surveyors of Nigeria, reminded the gathering, and indeed all Nigerians, that such basic luxuries as electricity will no longer be in supply, and telecoms service providers will be forced to close shop, meaning that as war intensifies, one cannot reach his or her loved ones either through phone call or the social media that some of us are deploying to forment trouble.
Stories abound of countries at war, where citizens have no option than to drink their urine in place of water, while food is a rare luxury that can only be available maximally once daily to a very lucky few. Hospitals will be overstretched. Markets will close. And no one is safe either at home or elsewhere.
A very touching example cited by Surveyor Kabir was of family members that will naturally be forced during war to scatter in different directions. Once a house is being attacked, for example, the father will scale the fence and run for dear life. A mother of five or more children will at most take with her the two yougest ones and try to escape with them, and even with these ones, she is likely to abandon them one after the other as the push comes to shove.
The worse part of it all is that the elite members of the society goading the young ones to take up arms against each other will vote with their feet. Surveyor Kabir reminded us all that most of the big men and women inciting the younger elements today have alternative addresses in different choice countries of the world.
As we speak, with tension in Nigeria getting worse by the day, many have since relocated their family members to some of these countries, making it easier for the men to join their family members without much ado.
To be sure, what all these translate to is that only the masses, and some members of the middle class, will be left behind to slug it out in what will then be a survival of the fittest. Or the luckiest, in an avoidable altercation whose outcome nobody could predict.
At the end of it all, we will all come back to the same drawing table to work out terms for peaceful coexistence, which we all have every opportunity to do now. By that time it would be too late, as the damage done could well be irredeemable.
If there is hope about the future of this country, it lies in the fact that majority of Nigerians have chosen to further understand our differences and draw advantages from our diversity and heterogeneity. The respect we get as one nation will automatically get frittered away once the nation is balkanised to, only God knows, how many small inconsequential countries.
The Igbos are some.of the most enterprising people globally. They are everywhere in Nigeria, with about half of them living and earning their livelihoods in places far away from their ancestral homes. Abuja, the Federal Capital, is never envisaged as a part of the proposed Biafra. And yet, the Igbos own at least 70 percent of property in Abuja. If Nigeria is balkanised, are the Igbo property owners going to uproot their properties and move them to the southeast? If they cannot do that, are they expected to lose it all?
After listening to the long sermon by Surveyor Kabir, it dawned on many of us in attendance at that event that managing those differences and living together inspite of all the difficulties remain the best option for all of us. Afterall, tough times do not last forever, but tough people do.
Less than two years away, Buhari will no longer be president of this country. Those who are truly interested in charting a new course for Nigeria should work in unity to ensure a competent replacement. From all the tribes in this country, there are very many competent, dispassionate compatriots who can take us to the promised land.
The Igbos have a bigger chance to claim the big prize, but they can only clinch it when they approach the same handshake across the Niger principle that the Igbo Youths have adopted as an obvious strategy.
Unfortunately, most of those filling the public space with all kinds of toxic narrative do not even have voters card, the major instrument they can legally deploy to effect the needed change. All they are good at is blame game and fouling the air, as if these alone can bring forth the just and egalitarian society we all aspire towards.