Nigeria is living through dangerous times and unfortunately, its rulers appear perplexingly slow, if not densely unconcerned, about urgent solutions to developments with potentially catastrophic outcomes. OBJ has written a letter and Soyinka and others have spoken, yet the slide continues! There is nowhere that a majority of the people will come together and agree that “let us start a civil or genocide war.” It is a little spark of pointless violence taken out of context by a frustrated and enraged mass, out of years and years of unmitigated poverty, oppression and injustice, that starts an irreversible process into war, capitalised upon by various self-centred forces of doom.
As we edge agonizingly close to the tipping point, all citizens – equal agents with their elites through years of conniving actions and inactions, as regards where we now find ourselves – have grave personal and collective responsibilities to act for the sake of redeeming the country. The beginning of positive action is clear and patriotic thinking. No individual or collective action in this regards, irrespective of status of the individual or organisation, is too little. Aggregated, they will be our saving grace, with God on the side of the country.
What are the foundations of clear, patriotic thinking? Firstly, we must all realise that all our individual aspirations, dreams and estates will be “gone with the winds” once “things fall apart” and the centre can no longer finally hold. The only people that stand to gain, and even then without any certainty, are the forces of darkness, the “dogs of war.” Decency, reason, personal liberty, humanism, democracy, the Senate, House of Representatives, State Houses of Assembly, Governors and Government Houses and Offices, Royalty, Titles, jobs, “party after party,” naming ceremonies, decent burials, housewarming, Christmas, Easter, Eid-el-Fitr, Eid-el-Kabir, Hajj, education and schools, certificates, houses and homes, cash and banking, cars, businesses, clubbing, even “yahoo yahoo” will all be done away with – for us all; all that will be left is how to stay alive in a dog-eat-dog situation of monumental chaos and pain; not how your family (if you even see any of the members) will stay alive, please – how YOU will stay alive!
For all those blessed enough to be able to read, there is a book urgently recommended for widespread reading today: A Long Way Gone – Memoir of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah; a young Sierra Leonean schoolboy who went to school on a fine innocent morning but was never to get back home, never to see any of his family again, but who mercifully lived through the horrors of the Sierra Leonean Civil War and lived to tell the story. Those who can read should do so on any online book platform and narrate Beah’s firsthand account to those less fortunate to have access.
Secondly, after a clear understanding of the evil and needlessness of war and an appreciation of our patriotic duty in redeeming the country, comes the need to pick up courage and commitment to play our little parts. How? Every individual belongs to one association or the other, no man or woman lives in isolation. There are no points and no times for lamentation and agonising, we need to act beginning from enlightenment within our precious little organisations – at schools, neighbourhoods, markets, religious centres, cultural groups, town meetings, palaces, workplaces, saloons, pubs, motor parks, inside buses, etc. No need for anxiety, hysteria or panic, simply a gentle understanding to refuse any and every provocative act pointing to primordial divisions, violence and war; and a need to make government at all levels accountable accordingly, such that crimes are taken for crimes and dealt with accordingly, timely and decisively without any fear or favour of whosoever is involved! An end to ethnicisation, politicisation and selective treatment for crimes! An end to nepotism and incompetency in government!
All discourse must be in the simple languages understood by the commoners, every issue broken down into the simplest basics. Leaders of every religious, cultural, corporate, Union and educational stables have a big role in doing this. We owe it to ourselves and future generation to first stay alive and avoid going the way of Syria, Yemen and company. We can then heave a sigh of relief when sanity prevails and begin to rethink a new Nigeria and the best way to get there.
There are no elections and political appointments during war, only survival, where every man, woman and child is on his/her own! 2022/2023 is still very far off and the way we are going, with the daily reports on unrestrained brutality and tragedies and a casual, overwhelmed, unimaginative government, seeing 2021 Christmas as a country at peace is all in our hands, God willing. We must come back to our individual and collective senses and do the needful; if only for the sake of survival. After then, can we dream, talk and work for prosperity and posterity.