Deepening The Fight For A Better Nigeria

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It’s often a pastime for critics to deploy diatribes to denounce leadership as they identify loopholes of both present and past governments. In strident condemnation of government policies, these critics erect for themselves altars of protests in promoting governance for the improvement of citizens’ welfare and national growth. As they embark on exposing the underbelly factors militating against development, these critics gain tremendous spaces in public, with some of them attaining the enviable status of societal conscience.

The role of critics remains indispensable in holding leadership accountable to the society even when other agencies mandated with such tasks have wobbled. Criticisms can either be positive or negative. When criticism is aimed at finding solutions or tackling weaknesses in a system; then, it is said to be positive, but when they are borne out of malice and not for the improvement of the system, it is deemed negative and destructive. The relevance of critics has been enunciated by Bishop Richard Hooker, who once declared: “He that goeth about to persuade a multitude that they are not so well governed as they ought to be shall never want attentive and favorable hearers…”

Ethnic growls

Certain dynamics are working to ensure that Nigeria, comprising hundreds of ethnic groups, is not on a united platform for building a nation where all groups will enjoy acceptance and a sense of belonging. At best, the words of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo that Nigeria is only a political entity resonate with our unquestionable realities. Founded on the need to serve the interests of certain groups and not for the common good, the granting of political freedom in October 1960 terminated the stranglehold of colonialism. Before independence, various censuses conducted by British colonial masters to determine the numerical strength had always ended in disputations. Groups that found themselves in the rear of the census figures, would always dismiss the headcount as a charade.

When Chief Anthony Enahoro moved the motion for Nigeria’s independence in 1956 or thereabout, the North opposed it, stressing that it was not prepared for self-government. Without doubt, Nigeria was founded on ethnicity and the fight for supremacy among the big tribes of Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba would manifest later during the execution of the 1966 failed military coup that collapsed the First Republic, culminating in the coldblooded murder of mostly prominent Northern politicians and military officers by majorly Igbo insurrectionists.

Trapped by past

After the end of the civil war, subsequent military leaders worked hard to heal the wounds of a war that led to the avoidable death of about two million people, including women and children. War-time Head of State General Yakubu Gowon left no stone unturned in ensuring the rehabilitation of the victims of a war that ended in ‘No victor, no vanquish’ note. It was to the credit and benevolence of General Gowon that his regime worked determinedly to not only reintegrate the Igbo; but also successfully led the country through its most trying periods.

No nation makes any meaningful progress with too much concentration on the past. When tragedies rock nations, it only serves as lessons and a wake-up call on leadership not to allow a repeat of such catastrophe. Sadly, in Nigeria, victims of calamities and misfortunes are increasingly finding it difficult to let go of the past, on account of incapacity by victims to let go of unjust treatment. Over 50 years after the end of the Nigerian civil war, the pains still persist even when major actors of that unfortunate tragedy are dead and gone.

The memories of that war still haunt as shown in the activities of the outlawed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and other South-eastern groups found in a distressed political entity called Nigeria that is currently in search of its relevance as Africa’s most populous nation. The dream to ensure our nation attains its manifest destiny cannot be achieved on the plank of a supremacy fight among ethnic groups, it must be achieved on new templates that place a premium on working in unity for the common purpose of attaining the overall good.

New dawn

Let no one be in doubt: Our democracy as presently practised in Nigeria is devoid of any capacity to unite citizens for the common good. Since ethnicity has become the cornerstone of our foundation, the building blocks of our politics have found a resting place in the promotion of ethnic issues that breed tensions in the bid to offer veritable platforms for political gains. Criticism and lamentation are not enough to change and deliver to us a better Nigeria dedicated for the defence of all citizens.

We may criticise President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for years to come, but we must come together to create a new song to galvanise citizens towards embracing the true essence of nationhood founded on broadening the space for all groups in the hope of realising national vision for development and unity.

To move beyond our present despair, citizens must think less of our country along ethnic and religious divides. Nigeria’s leadership must be willing to not only walk its talk and unite our nation, it must also aggregate the fears and hopes of various groups for growth. Most importantly, critics must align with the reasonableness of their criticisms in realising our national visions for groups that are mutually distrustful of themselves and weary of only surviving in a somnolent country that is yet to awake from its self-imposed slumber.

 

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