THIS week Wednesday, a jury in the United States of America pronounced the Guilty Verdict on all counts on Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, a judgment widely applauded as a step forward, in the least, in continuing to address centuries-old questions of racial justice in the States.
How long? Not Long. That is the popular name given to the public speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr on the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama in March 1965:
“I know you are asking today, ‘How long will it take?’ Somebody’s asking, ‘How long will prejudice blind the visions of men?’I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth crushed to earth will rise again…
“How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever.
How long? Not long, because you shall reap what you sow.
How long? Not long…
“Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne, yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own…
“How Long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice…”
It is a message of hope and universal relevance for those who struggle for the triumph of good over evil, especially in Nigeria where anti-democratic forces hide behind Democracy to perpetrate authoritarian rule. How else will an emissary of an elected President in a democracy haughtily come out to publicly dismiss, harass and even threaten constituencies agitating for self-determination!?
Yes, Nigeria will not splinter, God willing, but it will not be due to egotistical posturing by domineering anti-democratic powers-that-be. It will be because the people will wake up in good time to unite for the very historical destiny that, in the first place, brought about the special birth of Nigeria for the sake of Africa.
The message that Nigeria’s unity is sacrosanct and should not be undermined can be passed in many other uplifting and responsible ways than utterly failing to address the basis for secessionist agitations and further fuelling those bases by dictatorial outbursts directed against those who see the present structure of Nigeria as a roadblock to Nigeria’s development and Africa’s redemption.
Recently, John Nwodo led a team of elder statesmen to address and rapport with the leadership of the National Assembly and delivered a soulful and powerful message: a plea for urgent action to restructure Nigeria. Rather than concentrate on how to embrace history as its hero in at unprecedented time of danger, Garba Shehu, on behalf of his masters or not, was boastfully grandstanding in response to a critical national question, as if nations simply do not break up just because of the say-so of their taskmasters.
It is the difference between genuine democrats and authoritarians, the difference between caring statesmen and careless errand boys for hegemony.
Nigeria will definitely survive long enough for Nigerians, the people, to wake up and, willy nilly, restructure the country for the greatness that it is destined.
It is a time for heroism and popular organisations need to wake up to their historic responsibility of holding elected governments accountable to the people, for the delivery of the greatest good to the greatest majority, which in Nigeria today is impossible without a comprehensive restructuring.