By Prince Charles Dickson
“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”
Everyone is talking and threatening. There is a new one…Rondel Region of Niger Delta. In fact, they called theirs the Rondel Convenant. The South East Governors are speaking, El-Rufai has spoken, and even Tambuwal has said his bit. The not so tight Belt in the Middle has also served it’s own course of the meal.
We have seen denials, claims and counter-claims; I have seen groups like the Arewa Young Lawyers, Northern Gatemen and Southern Shoemakers and more groups.
Ango Abdullahi, as usual, has fired his virile shot, teaching those that did not know that the North literally fed the nation once upon a time, and others from both divides are threatening, while a few are pleading caution.
Words like “order, hate speech, genocide, ultimatum, panic” and more are trending. I hear also that the acting President said somewhere that God created Nigeria. A Fani Kayode disputed that. If you ask me, we need to split into some 200 plus places. Because it’s funny how the Igbos/Yorubas/Hausas think Nigeria is about only them.
So when… Did it all begin…when did paradise become hell? From the start even the conquest was a regrettable misunderstanding. Europe gave the land to its conqueror but the king knew nothing of it, it was always about greed, arrogance and power. And when we finally grasped the horror, it was too late.
I wrote this a few years back and it is still my stand. Watching the docu-drama ‘Sometime in April’, a take on the Rwandan genocide among Hutus and Tutsi, the role of the West and its allies and other sundry issues. I recall the scene where the officer was being asked by his son if he was Hutu or Tutsi and the father’s reply which ended with the hope that one day that question may not be necessary.
Two things came to my mind while that movie ran- the negative power of indoctrination and persuasion and the place of a national ideology. In the light of the recent awakening of the Biafran spirit, the political voodoo in the ancient northern city of Kaduna, the confusion in beautiful but constantly ravaged planes of Benue Plateau, the crisis of truth at the Niger Delta, I could only wish movies like this particular one could be aired on national television so that Nigerians can appreciate that they can be one somehow, and not the dirty politics of confusion being played by the Lilliputians posing as leaders, there are complexity of factors in our own story and we may not find it as lightly as elsewhere.
Nigeria is a difficult nation. No matter how positive one tries to be about Nigeria, breath Nigeria, think Nigeria and dream Nigeria, current events choke ones breath, fill the thought process of a sane person with grumbles and turn those dreams to nightmares. In writing this piece, I have had to think of the needs of the larger population of the nation that are marginalized be it, in the North, South, West or East, at this point in our national life there is greater need for us to have an ideology.
In doing so, we can better appreciate and hear the grumblings, wishes and aspirations of a crying silent majority who are intimidated by the sheer force of leadership and by the fear of economic survival. The present administration has used power to dominate rather than heal and dignify the populace. So, there is very little that binds us together. But then, even if we disintegrate as it is, the problems will simply follow us in macro sizes into the units and once more pose insurmountable mountains.
In 57 years of national independence, successive governments be it civilian military, or quasi-civilian like we have now, have tended to overlook the question of a national ideology. Our leaders have never really felt the need to define an ideology to guide the nation…because; they had already done so by encrypting corruption, maladministration, electoral violence, greed and selfishness, inequality as national ideologies on the fabric of conscience.
In the recent past, we have tried in 60s and 70s to create one but have simply underlined the ideological chasm in our society. Our ad-hoc attempts are only pathetic in circumventing the real need for an ideological base as a nation. We have only by our actions admitted that we are ideologically bankrupt and inadequate. The War Against Indiscipline, the ‘ethical revolution’, the National Orientation Movement, the Due Process, Change mantra and corruption stance have proven that much.
There is the need to embark on a search for an ideology that derives from our life and culture, from our political experience and our environment. Something that is practicable in our unique political, economic and social condition. This I believe is not an impossible task. If an ideology is a set of ideas, principles, ethics and values by which a nation guides and regulates itself towards the achievement of its political, social, economic and cultural objectives, it is then obvious that we can see why we are a confused nation with everyone crying wolf from end to end. It is a result of the absence of a guiding doctrine. We are gravitating towards social and moral disintegration at every level of national life. We as a people are blessed with or without oil. The problem is that we have never been able to distill a national ideology from the enormous wealth of ethical values and social order of our traditional heritage.
Down the ladder of poverty I have always asked a question…is the average Nigerian selfish, greedy, or a hater? Certainly no, some necessities of life all hold us together, food, shelter and food, irrespective of tribe, religion or creed. But we have so easily overlooked our traditional heritage. A close examination of the various elements of our traditional societies will show that they embody the democratic principles which recognize the fundamental equality of all men so much so that our original pagan societies were fundamentally theistic in nature and we lived in ‘parapoism’ (togetherness). One for all, all for one and none of us was stronger than all of us.
What we are about to start, we are not prepared for. The picture is bleak. The very few tiny threads holding the fabric of our society are gradually being strained beyond bearing point. And when we finally grasp the horror of our present may it not be too late. Are we ready—Only time will tell.
Dr. Dickson writes via [email protected]