by Prince Wene
Reading the stories of the bomb blast in Sabon Gari area of Kano on Saturday the 18th of May 2014 made Nigerians cry and the perpetrators of this inhumanity did not even let us mourn the dead before attacking the terminus in Jos town on the 20th of May leaving over a hundred people dead. Now the kidnap and murder of Emirs in the Northern part of Nigeria on the 30th of May makes me wonder what has happened to our respect for human lives and respect for traditional institutions. How did we get here? How did the good and hospitable people of Nigeria turn to this?
My grand mother told me great stories of the North; from the great groundnut pyramids, the great wall built by the Emir of Kano long ago to its great games reserves. I remember seeing my relatives come back home for Christmas from Jos, Kano and Kaduna. As at today, I have no relative in the North and I wonder if I will ever get to see these sites I heard as a child.
The monumental corruption, decay, and spate of violence in Nigeria did not appear suddenly. They are in our society and took over half a century to get to this level. We live with it, appreciate it and even dream on improving on it.
The totality of these corrupt acts and excesses engendered the military coup of January 1966 at least to the best of my knowledge as I have read extensively on the reasons for the coup. Chinua Achebe wrote about all this in his book “The problem with Nigeria” in 1983 where he reminded the elites of their kids inheriting the country worse if they do nothing. The British gave birth to this corruption and nurtured it.
The major Nzeogwu coup opened the floodgates of ethnic rivalry and the resulting counter coup compounded it. But before all these, in an address to the Legislative Council in 1948, Abubakar Tafawa Belewa declared that “since 1914 the British government has been trying to make Nigeria into one country, but the Nigerian people themselves are historically different in their backgrounds, religious beliefs and customs and do not show themselves any sign of willingness to unite. Nigerian unity is only a British intention for the country”. Sir Ahmadu Bello also had his resentment for a united Nigeria. In his autobiography “My Life” published a year after independence in 1961, he described the amalgamation as “the mistake of 1914”. How then did these men who never believed a united Nigeria was achievable become our leaders when we gained independence?
The assassination of Ironsi and the subsequent pogrom targeted at the Igbos was the beginning of the journey of ethnic and religious intolerance in Nigeria. The Kano riots and other riots in Nigeria were tonics to what we experience right now. We have failed to see the bigger picture and resolve this. To understand Nigeria’s divide, we must understand our history. But we don’t believe in history or have shown a strong trait of not trusting it.
The past does not equal the future so we can and should tell our past and lessons learned from it. No single nation in the world has a warring past with good tales; we have read them all. We teach our kid war stories in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Uganda, USSR etc, so why not the story of Biafra? Was it a war, secession or genocide? Let it be known to and by all. We have chosen shaky peace instead of the truth. Our past ought to be a means to chart a way for our future.
Every Country has had challenges some resolved theirs while some had secession. Which do we want? Which can we afford? We have seen countries with known internal crisis like United Kingdom, France Germany and also Ghana. Have we studied how they resolved this?
Our role as citizens at this time is to rally support for our troops and the government. Seeing countries like France with De Gaulle, United Kingdom with Thatcher, Mexico and the Cartel, Italy and the Red Brigade as well as Yugoslavia and their emperor Tito, who was loved and how Yugoslavia grew strong with him and how it fell apart after his death.
Most of us believe if leadership is right, every other thing will fall in place. I refuse to believe in this and my reasons are; nations are made by its citizens. America has Americans not in religion, colour, or regions. But at heart, have you seen Americans look to their flag for strength? Do we feel same for Nigerian flag? Nigeria should and must be filled with Nigerians. But we do not have an identity just yet. Looking at countries that have had great leaders, corruption still prevailed.
Nigerians want a strong character at the centre; Yugoslavia had similarities to Nigeria in religious, regional and ethnic differences. History tells us that Yugoslavia was a country united by its leader and it degenerated after his death. They never had an identity as a nation but as people who have a strong leader in whom they support. Leaders will come and go but nations will remain. Do we love our leaders or our country?
We must stand firm and assist our security agencies and government in this war against terrorism. Even America stood by George Bush in the aftermath of September 11 bombings which saw the passing of the Patriots Law. This law which came into being under President George Bush in 2001 was reviewed by President Obama in 2011. With contents such as Enhancing domestic security against terrorism; Surveillance procedures; Anti-money-laundering to prevent terrorism; Border security; Removing obstacles to investigating terrorism; Victims and families of victims of terrorism; Increased information sharing for critical infrastructure protection; Terrorism criminal law; Improved Intelligence; it set out to tackle lapses in the American system.
This is what we need right now. We must look within to muster strength to address our weaknesses. I urge us all to read this piece of legislation and understand that the state of our nation is not in the hands of politicians.
Looking at our political sphere, we still have the same people in governance with different parties riding on or religious and ethnic sentiments. its all about gains and not service to the people.
A whole lot has and are being said by people who should be responsible for our sisters and daughters who have been kidnapped by the Boko Haram Sect. From the Federal Government, state government, the military, the media, ruling and opposition political parties, religious and ethnic leaders to the #Bringbackourgirls movement and other civil societies, what have we achieved from all the blame shift, accusation and counter accusations?
For those who have gone ahead to play politics with these girls, have you ever been held against your will? Screamed and no one heard you cry? Have you thought of death as your only chance of being saved? If you truly try to picture these girls and what they face in their captivity, all that should cross your mind is we have failed our selves and are now failing our future generations.
Reading about all terrorist groups in the past which is somehow not what we do in Nigeria, you find out we can stop terrorism in Nigeria. The Red brigade was dreaded in Italy and tormented the government and citizens for years. The citizens only reacted when a loved citizen was killed. We have watched as more and more of our loved ones get killed. We are not terrorist by nature; we are still Nigerians. Its been tough but we must persevere like all other nations had and get stronger.
Let the pessimistic Nigerian see the hope of the optimistic Nigerian. We can defeat these groups and I am sure we can. Take out time to read about the patriot’s law and also about the Red brigade of Italy. What will be our identity as NIGERIANS?