For the Youth, A Freedom from Hate

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GUEST COLUMNIST BY NUHU RIBADU 

It is in conversations between generations like this that the young ones benefit from the experience of the aged. And it is said that the old are only wise because they have lived the life of the young. The fraternity of ideas between the generations is therefore important in fostering socialisation and imparting values and experience.

I usually feel nostalgic anytime I come across a group of young people in an organised place. I admire youthful innocence, the bond among young people, the ideas and imagination and their adventurous mind. These combine to make the youth the most important demography for the society—they are creative, geeky, and energetic and, by virtue of their age, they are going to be the drivers of this country in a near future.
As individuals, young people come from different families from around the vast diversity of this country, which is one beauty and the intendment of unity schools.

They come with the orientation and values of your families and the language they acquired at home. They also have the religion they open your eyes to see their parents’ practice. Influencing them are also the cultures and idiosyncrasies of their immediate community. They carry the worldview and orientation of those immediate surroundings.
That is expected.

However, in their school life, they are exposed to other persons, as classmates and persons with whom they share dormitories. A number of them don’t speak in the same mother tongue, a good number may not profess the same faith. If students were to be asked to dress according to their cultures, the school would have an interesting display of varieties.
Interestingly, the Ahmed who is hostel mate to Segun, and Emeka who sits next to Bassey in class are all humans. They have all come to associate and look at each other as friends and brothers.

In the days and months and years spent in school, young people have grown from strangers suspicious of each other, to acquaintances curious about each other, to friends that cherish each other. They have grown above the markers of their circumstances of birth to humans that only see the inherent good or bad in each other beyond the masks imposed on everyone by fate. The competition for academic excellence, and the collaboration in curricula and extra-curricular matters recognise no ethnic or religious markers. They succeed because they work and partner dispassionately.

However, it must be stressed that the scenario I have painted in the foregoing is that of an ideal Nigeria, the dream of coexistence that we should aimed for as a country rooted in diversity.

After school, young people move to the larger society, a freer environment with a complex social interaction as they come in direct contacts with more adults. That’s why they cannot wait for the freedom awaiting them outside the college; the freedom to mingle and interact and a freedom to now own a smart phone permanently that no one will take from them anymore.

The upcoming generation eagerly awaits the freedom. They deserve it!
But while the young people go out there in life basking in the freedom that comes with it, they have to be wary of an ugly virus making the round in our larger society.

They have to take the lessons they learned in diversity, love and peaceful coexistence to the larger society. The society should benefit from that lesson for peace and progress.
When young people interact in the society, they need to be extra careful and a notch wiser than you are. Importantly, they have to learn through the follies of folks out there and sift from that which the new freedom offers them.

They have to close their eyes, ears and minds to merchants of hate now walking dangerously in our spaces.
They go about everywhere, from the social network in your mobile phones, to political and social gathering, to, most unfortunately, some pulpits and sacred spaces. They try, in devilish desperation, to pit you against Ndutimi and his like, Ovie and his people or against Tsav and his stock. They say all manner of things, often fabrication and likes to make the other an enemy.
The cyberspace is replete with hate.

But why? You may ask. Those merchants of hate do what they do largely for self-promotion, to delude members of their immediate community and portray themselves as champions of their rights and interest, while in reality they are not.
They do that so they remain relevant as ethnic or religious champions. They are venomous persons of whom the young ones should be conscious.

It is important for the youth to appreciate the essence of diversity in human society. Just like our fingers are not of the same size, there is no way we can be the same. If it were the wish of God that you should live in this space alone, the other wouldn’t have been created. The fact that God has created you and him and her means that you are willed to live together.

Throughout history, no one human stock was able to wipe off another, no matter the extensity of the hate or the ferocity of wars. So, if you cannot do anything about the other’s existence why then will you not learn to accommodate each other? We must!
It is important for the youth to have the consciousness that no human stock is inherently good or bad. Every stock has its share of the good, the bad and the ugly.
The fact that you speak the same language or worship together with someone does not necessarily mean that person will be good to you.

Quite often, our benefactors are persons from a different background as ourselves.
To blame the other for your challenges is an escapist narrative often promoted by failed leaders who should otherwise be held accountable for those failings.
We must resist their ploy and attempt to divide us in furtherance of their parochial agenda.
There is nowhere that such divisive campaign led to anything meaningful.
It won’t lead us to anywhere good too.

But some individuals have made a career of promoting hate social media platforms; some have taken that as a tool for political prosperity. We must say no to them!
The government and security agencies owe us a duty to tame those hate mongers from us and especially the young generation that are coming behind.

The youth must be allowed to carry on the good heart and brotherhood they have imbibed from their beautiful innocence and early interactions. The young Nigerians as the heirs to this country, and drivers of its tomorrow should be totally free from hate. They should resist prophets of hate. They need to be free and liberated from the virus of hate, it is the only guarantee that they will be the future of which we dream.
Ribadu was the pioneer executive chairman of EFCC.

Time to Save Nigeria

Balarabe Musa and Femi Falana

Amid the cacophony of ethnic and regional voices, it is imperative that pan – Nigerian voices should be heard louder than ever before to save Nigeria from disintegration. The symptoms of the brewing socio- political crisis are manifest. The Nigerian state has failed to tackle the worsening insecurity plaguing every part of the country. Nigeria is increasingly being defined by insecurity. Killings have become almost a daily affair in Nigeria. Terror attacks, banditry, kidnapping and armed robbery are perpetrated by criminals with reckless abandon. In practical terms, no part of Nigeria is immune to violent crimes, although the incidence might be relatively higher in one part than the other at this time. Tragic news of lives wasted issues from the north and south, east and west.

In response to the flourishing crimes in the face of the worrisome incompetence of the state, ethnic and regional champions have resorted into the dangerous ethnic profiling and demonisation of others. It is the reign of hate speech and marketing of prejudice. Claiming to speak for “our people,” they issue irresponsible ultimatums and orders for which they lack constitutional authority to enforce. Some of those who are supposed to act as statesmen at this critical hour have instead joined the ranks of issuers of prejudicial statements.

The appropriate response to these sectional voices is not to glibly question the patriotism of any person or group. The effective response is to compel the Nigerian state under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari to perform the constitutional duty of keeping Nigeria secure.
Nigeria must not be turned into a killing field. The way to take the wind out of the sails of merchants of hate is for the government to confront the worsening insecurity in Nigeria squarely and honestly.

Law enforcement and other security agencies should fight crimes competently and strictly according to the law. In doing so, the ethnic and religious identity of the criminal is not of any importance. Rather ethnic and religious profiling could distract from the urgent task of stamping out crimes. The truth is that every ethnic and religious group has its own share of criminals. We must separate crimes from prejudice so that criminals could be fought with a unity of purpose as a nation. It is also an indisputable fact that the victims of criminal activities belong to the various ethnic grounds and religions.

We are convinced that the urgency of the situation should compel the Buhari administration to rethink its internal security strategy by considering some of the patriotic suggestions from conferences and panels set up by government in the last few years. In our view, another conference (by whatever name) may not be coming up anything new given that the Nigerian condition is akin to an emergency. The police and other security agencies should be equipped and organised to perform their duty in the light of the new dimensions of insecurity. The justice system especially in the states should be alert to their responsibility of diligent and swift prosecution of arrested suspected criminals. It is the duty of the respective attorneys-general in the affected states to prosecute suspected killers, kidnappers and armed robbers.

All the tiers of government have responsibilities for security, working in unison. If the degeneration in the Nigerian condition is not halted, the nation may descend into anarchy. Doubtless, the poor people will bear the brunt of such an avoidable disaster. We, therefore, call on President to rally the country around a national purpose of security everywhere in Nigeria as the constitution demands. This leadership duty should be in words and action. The President should address the nation specifically for the purpose of giving assurance of his commitment to the unity of Nigeria amidst adequate security. It is also the duty of genuine lovers of peace, freedom and development of Nigeria to speak up in order to save the nation from descent of anarchy.
It is time that pan-Nigerian voices were heard loud and clear.

•Musa is a former Governor of Kaduna State and Falana is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.