That Nigeria may be at peace

Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo with Traditional Rulers from Southeast Nigeria, at the State House.

The state of flux in which Nigeria remains is deeply worrisome. Agitations and counter-agitations have increased the tension in the land. In this unfortunate scenario there have been all kinds of suggestions, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Some citizens have canvassed positions which could be considered as treasonable. Giving an expulsion ultimatum to a group of citizens in a geographical location is tantamount to extreme security breach and an insult to the entire nation. Threatening or carrying out acts of violence against communities is also unacceptable and should be checked.

In the midst of all of this, the President, Muhammadu Buhari is away in the United Kingdom, on an extended medical leave, thereby fueling the feeling of uncertainty among the citizenry. The Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has taken some steps to douse the palpable tension. But in the current climate of mutual distrust there has been no let-up because each day new, groups emerge and make demands on the Federal Government. What is the way forward? Where are the elders and statesmen who have held this country together by consensus building? This is the time for them to speak up for the nation’s survival and unity.

It may be academic to attempt an interrogation of the raison d’etre of the sudden upsurge in ethnic nationalistic feelings in the country. From the South East to the North and the South West not to mention the Niger Delta, there have been variants of the call to re-visit the administrative and political structures of the Nigerian State. Referencing the 2014 National Confab Report, the Middle Belt and northern minorities have asked for 12 regions and 54 states to be created. The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar 111 has also attributed the rise in agitations to the ‘rotten system’ of things.

The bottom line is that the Federal Government has to act now to safeguard the integrity and sovereignty of the nation. The first point to be made is that creating12 regions and 54 states will not solve any problem. How will those states be funded? It would simply aggravate the current economic crisis that the nation is experiencing. When people advocate a restructuring, what is meant is a proper and judicious generation and allocation of economic resources. It is not synonymous with dismantling the country or allowing ethnic nationalities to go their separate ways. Nigeria’s continued existence as a corporate body with all the human and natural resources makes it a powerhouse and a force to reckon with in the global community. She just needs to put her house in order and utilise her God-given resources pragmatically.

Nigeria does not need another war to achieve justice and equity. The cost of war is horrendous. Memories of the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War still hurt almost 50 years after it ended in 1970. Mahatma Gandhi once stated: ‘I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.’ Any actions that could precipitate overwhelming violence in the land should be avoided.

The current efforts on dialogue should continue. The 2014 National Confab Report which the Senate has called for should form the basis of cooling down tempers. All the voices adopting different approaches aim for one goal: restructure the country now. The constituent parts of the nation should be given more powers. Each part should work on developing its natural resources. The Federal Government should concentrate on defence, currency and foreign relations while issues of security should be in the hands of the states. Over-reliance on oil should cease immediately.

Elders in the land should play the role naturally and culturally expected of them. They should not abdicate leadership to rabble rousers whose only goal is to get attention for themselves at the expense of peace and security. Also, politicians who hide behind the scenes to fund crisis should be fished out and dealt with according to the laws of the land. Peace is invaluable and should be cultivated. It is only when a man or a country loses its peace that it can value the beauty of peace. Nigerians can disagree on political views and the route to national growth. But threats of war and violence should not be part of the bargain.

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