By Dan Ochonma
Nigerians are a very wonderful people! Anywhere you have a Nigerian, expect excitement. Expect the ability to feel-good- a factor that never stays too far from us as a people. That was our psychological disposition when democracy was re-ushered in 1999.
Today, the need to keep track, keep faith as a people in our constitutionally elected government to resolve issues confronting us and threatening the happy feelings we are known for, is starring at us.
Democracy is a good system of governance which matures and flourishes over time. And just like any other transformation medium, will undergo the stages of forming, storming, norming and performing before attaining its gold mark where the rule of law, separation of power, public opinion supremacy and fundamental human rights reign supreme.
The focus here is not to educate us on the rudiments/fundamentals of democracy and inherent benevolence. Rather a call for us to remain fully united and focused as Nigerians. Focused not to be distracted by trajectory symptoms of dysfunctional society which tend to rear its ugly head as democracy gets entrenched in any society.
My thought at this time in our interesting history as a nation is to allow government we elected to flourish – we have done that since 1999.
Talk may have become cheap, so cheap anytime some of us take up our dear nation for a discuss. That should however not be. Fact here is that the same task we must make the country work for us is the same we have to allow it to evolve fully. It is so good to know that we must hold any government accountable anytime. Yet good reasoning should not take a flight from our daily living and in the management of our diversity.
Today, I would go ahead and define the average Nigerian citizen as one that has long dismantled the tired old narrative suggesting that a government, we collectively elected is the pantomime villain standing between us and the effective feel-good –factor – a factor backed by a functional system where things are working well.
But are we interested in things working well? How could we not be? There is an assault on corruption. Impunity, hitherto an untouchable, is fighting for its life. Perfection-the utopian version of a dream as it seems- has not yet been attained in all these. Agreed. There is however, that ‘another look’ at the way things is being done – at least since independence.
If we must serve a solution menu, befitting our challenges today, then we must take some decisions! Gen. Babangida (rtd) it was who told us that history may forgive you for taking a wrong decision. But that same history will never forgive you for not taking any decision at all. To preserve our hard-earned republic, we must act! According to Richard Nixon, a former US President, “the easiest period in a crisis is actually the battle itself. The most difficult is the period of indecision – whether to fight or run away. And the most dangerous period is the aftermath. It is then, with all his resources spent and his guard down, that an individual must watch out.”
First, we must go back to some of the laws that govern some of our conducts (not to any drawing board though). Here our leadership recruitment process comes in yet again. It is time we start conducting serious background checks on people we elect and appoint into leadership positions in Nigeria. Having had enough field day with empowering all manner of people, it’s time to call it a day with questionable characters and people with criminal records.
INEC should be made to assume more powers in objectively screening and clearing candidates for elective positions. In the words of an anonymous philosopher, Life is 20% what happens to us and 80% in the way we respond to such events
No solution menu will be complete however, without applying all the caution in our use of the social media. It has become obvious that a live-and-let-live philosophy has no place in the social media environment – just as it has none in warfare. Fake news hate speeches and subversive sentiments are all having a field day as social media keeps threatening to tear our nation apart.
We need to, as a matter of urgency, forward a bill to manage and regulate some aspects of our social media usage. Again, ‘life is 20% what happens to us and 80% in the way we respond to such events. Decently speaking, let’s start seeing government take more people to court for abusing social media.
Challenges in our march to nationhood are legion but after what would look like worrying periods in our history, the usual meltdown and disarray, we have always followed the ‘Nigerian script’ and got so many things right to lift the Nigerian mood and change the outlook
The list is long: The elections that ushered in our independence in 1960. The coup of 1966. The civil war of 1967 preceded by crisis that was more ethnic in nature than was foretold. The June 12 election that a seeming winner was blocked from accessing his mandate. The Abacha years and the late President Umaru Yar’adua’s health issues, eventual death and succession fueled doctrine of necessity. In all these, the foundation of our existence as a nation was visibly threatened. But what happened? We moved on!
We are Nigerians and Nigeria belongs to all of us. Nigeria has never belonged to hatred. She has never been for the wicked, bigots and those whose stock in trade is suspicion. But talk-talk, we must. Nigeria belongs to a global marketplace that today subscribes more to jaw-jaw than to war-war.
Living together as one is the only way to go. From time, even with little issues at various times, we have remained as one. There is hardly any union where issues, minor disagreements, manageable fights do not arise. Marriages, brothers, sisters, communities, villages-all disagree – life must however go on. Way to go. Way to live.
Afenifere, Ohaneze, Arewa Consultative Forum, Niger Delta brothers in agitation, OPC, IPOB, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders, The Middle Belt Forum, others not mentioned here and the youths of these organizations, Nigeria belongs to all of us. We must display a nationalistic mindset when addressing any issues. It must not be pandering to ethnicity, bigotry and self-aggrandizing. We have always been living together as one.
We as a people look a good bet to overcome all these and interestingly, odds-on choice. This is our best chance since 1960 to win the battle against hunger and poverty, of divide and rule as well as overzealous agitations. –in my view though! But the length of time without these is a worry.
––Ochonma, a chartered banker, who wrote in from the United Kingdom, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org