AT the Garden of Gethsemane – shortly before the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ at Calvary – He had asked His father, ‘if it is possible, let this cup pass away’. In the same breath I ask: ‘Oh! God, when will this gathering storm over our nation pass away?’ This question has become inevitable considering the strange things that are happening in our nation today.
I can never stop intervening and drawing attention to the perilous times in which our nation has found itself. I have done this over the years in the belief that some concerned Nigerians would listen to my clarion calls and do something to save our nation from perdition.
When the crisis in the 60s that led to the Nigerian Civil War started many never thought it would degenerate to the level it got. The war was later to consume millions of innocent lives and set the nation several years back.
When the clouds were gathering at that time many were complacent and carried on as if it would not get to them. But when the Pandora box was opened there was commotion and anarchy. It was very painful that those who were expected to speak out in condemnation of the injustices that took place at the time chose to maintain studied silence, pretending that what was happening was normal.
Unfortunately, by the time they realised what was happening the nation had been thrown into commotion and anarchy.
Painfully, this same scenario is playing out today, as the nation is experiencing one of its roughest times since it gained independence. The majority of our people are suffering all kinds of deprivations ranging from poverty to sickness, insecurity to sudden deaths occasioned by ravaging diseases, accidents caused by bad roads, insurgency. Now they have added terrorism!
Just last week, over 81 persons were killed by Fulani herdsmen in Benue State for no justification. The Benue killings have got to a point that we must collectively do something to stem it. How can we fold our arms and watch our fellow compatriots slaughtered like fowls?
The whole stretch from Nasarawa to Benue, Plateau to Niger is at siege. All kinds of insurgency occur there, making one wonder why the security agents had not done something to arrest them.
What is happening in Nigeria, for goodness sake? So life has suddenly become this cheap that one would wake up one morning and before evening the same day his body ends up in the morgue? This is exactly what is happening all over the place.
Many highly-placed Nigerians have refused to speak out against the mass killings and brigandage taking place, particularly in the north of the country. They have rather chosen to play the emu, burying their heads in the sand and turning their faces away from the sordid and barbaric incidents that have characterised life in Nigeria at present.
Worst of all, they have refused to caution their people, even when they had the opportunity and influence to do so. The Benue killings started several years ago and have persisted. I must confess that I had thought that the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari would bring these senseless killings to an end. Lo and behold, the situation has got worse. Very sad!
It is undeniably true that those that decided not to speak out in the 60s had erroneously thought that, if anything should happen, they would be safe. But contrary to their selfish disposition and belief they were the hardest hit. While some of them were brutally killed others had their properties destroyed. Each suffered one loss or another.
These days our high and mighty have craftily devised another means by taking their families abroad to escape any sudden cataclysm. That is fine. But I am appalled by their myopic act. Who told them their families would be safe in the event of the outbreak of hostilities?
For those who do not know: when wars break out, nobody is spared: everybody is vulnerable. The Nigerian Civil War has left an indelible scar on the psyche of all those that witnessed it, and signposted our collective mistake as a people. It is then baffling that, despite the calamities that befell us from this mistake, many of us still promote ethnic, religious and political animosities to further divide us and feather their nests.
It is unfortunate that the present state of things in our dear country was foretold several years ago, but nobody paid heed to it. In our usual style, we played it down and trudged on. Many must have thought, as they did in the 60s, that the developments would not affect them. Tell me, is there any Nigerian that is not affected one way or another by the ongoing crises that have hit our social fabric? If some people had not been materially affected, at least they must have felt some psychological discomfort.
The level of insecurity across the country is breath-taking. There is no place that can be adjudged to be safer than the other, including Abuja – the nation’s capital.
If it is not bombing today, it is the indiscriminate shooting of innocent people by a group of unidentified gunmen. In fact, the killings have taken even the most absurd pattern.
Two weeks ago a Christian preacher – alleged to be the wife of a Pentecostal pastor – was brutally killed by religious fanatics in the outskirts of Abuja. Though her assailants have been arrested, their action has set many asking: what has given the fanatics the new impetus to slaughter people at will?
Imagine what would have happened by now if the military had not launched an offensive against insurgents that terrorise us. I commend the military for the success so far, while urging them to step up the fight until total victory is achieved.
As I predicted in my first article for the New Year that the year was emboweled in the womb of uncertainties, current events have since vindicated me. My prediction that the situation could get worse before it gets normal is also coming true. Without sounding alarmist, something in me tells me that worse days lie ahead going by the attitude of some of our leaders. Is there anything in their behaviour or utterances that inspire hope?
The developments could worsen unless government takes unusual measures to re-establish sanity.
Those behind the current insecurity in the country do so definitely for their selfish interests – to protect their fiefdoms and preserve their ill-gotten wealth. There is nothing about their actions that show any patriotism. Even their utterances belie all what they claim to stand for. Life has become perilous in our clime, yet many people still feel all is well. Do they want to do something only after they had been killed? Is it not better to work for the peace, progress and unity of Nigeria now than to spend time and money containing the upheavals that would arise?
Who would pay for the losses arising from these crises and killings? The nation of course! After all, when two elephants fight is it not the grass that suffers? The grass here is the masses that have been at the receiving end of the misdeeds of the political leadership. Today, fuel sells for N145 and everybody is complaining. Even some greedy marketers still sell the product for as much as N200 in some parts of the country. Who should be blamed for this evil of profiteering?
Do we not watch while militants break oil pipelines? What do we do? We think it is Buhari’s problem alone. Not true at all! It is our collective inertia and amnesia that is responsible for the swiftness with which the situation degenerates.
It has become a pastime for some armchair critics to blame the government for everything that goes awry. But in the present circumstance we should blame the greed that rules the lives of some of us. Why can’t people subject themselves to the law, so that we can move this nation forward? When government makes policies and they are flagrantly flouted, then it becomes an open invitation to anarchy. By selling fuel at the prescribed price of N145 we aid planning and contribute our quota to national development.
As I have always opined, I do not know too much about the politics of oil subsidy. But all that I know is that some persons fed fat from what belongs to all of us. Great nations such as the United States, Britain, France, Germany and even China were built through the collective enterprise of their people – who did not mind to sacrifice their lives for their nations to survive. Yes, here our forbears did the same when they fought for and gained independence in 1960. And that was where the whole thing ended. If a seed is planted and not watered, sooner than later it withers away. For it to grow into a big tree or shrub, it must be watered and nurtured.
In the same way, the seed of our independence was sowed in 1960, but nothing much was done to nurture it. What we spent the past 56 years doing was squabble over little things that ordinarily should not distract us. For 30 months we fought a civil war, while the remainder of the years was used to experiment on the entrenchment of a sustainable democratic culture that has remained an illusion. The inability to attain this sustainable democratic culture is blameable on the ethno-religious inclinations of some of our leaders. There is no way we can build a formidable, united nation without doing away with ethnicity, clannishness, religious bigotry, corruption and self-centredness. The reason for promoting patriotism in any nation is to kill the morbid self-desires that run counter to national ethos.
It is very sad that our nation has been in the throes of insecurity for many decades now, losing precious lives to robberies, sectarian conflicts and political crises. Is this not frightening? What about the enormous resources expended in the training of officers that have been killed in these conflicts? What efforts are being made to stop the senseless killings and enhance the careers of the remaining officers? These are salient questions government should proffer answers to if we are to get over the present imbroglio.
Nevertheless, we need to do proper soul-searching in order to begin to build a truly united and egalitarian Nigeria. Let us presume that the past 56 years had been wasted and begin a new march toward real peace and reconciliation. God has endowed us with enough resources to sustain us for a long time. All that we need is to manage them judiciously to benefit all of the people. The idea of one person expropriating what belongs to a million people is a bug we must kill urgently if we are to get over our present inertia. Those who siphoned our common patrimony should bear in mind that there is no peace for an evil man until he turns away from his evil ways.
Let me ask: How many people who looted the treasury lived to enjoy and exhaust it? Never! The more wealth you accumulate, the more worries you bring upon yourself. Wealth is meant to be used for the common good and not to create division, confusion and crises among us. Sadly, many of the crises bedevilling our nation today were caused by some persons for their self-aggrandisement. What do they stand to gain if they destroyed everybody and were left alone in this world? Life will become a bore for them. The joy of one’s existence is full when one lives a righteous life that brings joy to others. Living together in peace and love is the only way we can build a progressive and prosperous nation.
Let me use this medium to add my voice to the national call on those causing trouble in the land to allow peace to reign. We do not gain anything by mauling innocent souls? How many lives has the nation lost since the New Year started? In fact, there is no day that passes that there are no reports of one killing or another across the country.
The hate and greed that pervade our national life give me great concern. It is an ill wind that does no one any good.
One of the ways to stem the ugly spectre is to dialogue with the Niger Delta Avengers and other similar militant organisations to find a swift solution to the crisis in the region. I have written it before that confrontation is not a solution. Rather it would worsen it. Dialogue is cheaper and leads to a lasting solution.
I wish to urge the Federal Government to evolve strategies to address these sad and bothersome developments before they escalate. If things continued the way they are going it would not be long before anarchy sets in. No responsible government will fold its arms and watch miscreants take over the land. It is also important for the government to find out why some Nigerians have resorted to violence as the preferred means to settle personal scores. I believe there are many non-violent tactics aggrieved persons or groups could adopt to register their resentment over any matter they feel strongly about. Killing and maiming innocent citizens is not only criminal but a sin against God.
Let me remind those who kill in the name of politics, religion or economy that no sinner shall go unpunished. They should not forget that he who kills by the sword also dies by the sword. This life is ephemeral and, therefore, not worth dying.
I admonish the government to urgently establish schemes that will deal with the growing poverty in the land. It is poverty that has made some of our youths susceptible to manipulation by the political class. Check it out: All the violent crimes committed in Nigeria involve a sizeable number of youths. This is why the government should intensify effort in solving the twin-problem of youth employment and general empowerment. There is no contestation that the nation will breathe air of relief once a large chunk of our youths is gainfully engaged.
It may not be out of place to ask every Nigerian to start immediate prayer and fasting toward the restoration of peace, security and togetherness in Nigeria, so that we will soon realise our God-given destiny of building one of the richest economies in the world.