It has always been said that peace has no alternative. This is in view of the turbulent situations Nigeria has faced in recent times. To many Nigerians, it is still a surprise how a once peaceful country, degenerated to a one where citizens scamper for safety almost on daily basis ensuing from insecurity.
Before the country once referred to as the “giant of Africa” with over 200 million people dropped to this level, Nigeria used to be a nation respected and adored among the league of nations due to the relative peace and tranquility witnessed in the country. Her citizens in other nations of the World seeking greener pastures were respected and sought after because of the way they proffered solutions to problems wherever they are.
However, the fact remains that Nigeria, no matter the encumbrances today, is not beyond redemption if her current leaders can show commitment and galvanise the citizenry. While past leaders who mounted the saddle, fought hard to make sure that the country remained peaceful, indivisible among others, the present administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari can indeed replicate the feats attained by others to ensure peace reigns supreme in a country divided along ethnic and religious lines. He can do this by actually being a President for no-one which he has always posited in his speeches.
Today, the level of hatred, battle for supremacy, rift existing among Nigerians, have become so conspicuous and worrisome. Discussions involving diverse ethnicities on Social Media and physical discussions concerning the State of the nation, hardly end without using abusive words that would definitely prove and reflect that the country is divided along ethnic lines.
In as much as I buy the idea that we are better as one than divided, this saying can only make sense if the leadership at the centre, ask themselves pertinent questions as to what is being done to stem the hatred, battle for supremacy, ethnic chauvinism, agitations in all zones of the country.
It is no longer news that the West are calling for Yoruba nation while their counterparts from the South-East geopolitical zone, are calling for Biafra nation which the proponents believe will assuage their notable and glaring hopelessness experienced in the Nigeria of today.
As these agitations worsen, it is pertinent to state categorically, that the current administration at the centre, who many accuse of divisive tendencies, can actually curb/ quell the tensions overnight by listening to issues raised by the agitators.
I am not in the school of thought who believe that nothing can be achieved through dialogue. After all a saying has it that it is better to “jaw jaw than to war war”. Another saying also has it that where the child is crying and pointing at, if the mother is not there, the father is there. What it means here is that the Yoruba Nation and Biafra agitators can never call for secession if Nigeria was a just, virile and egalitarian nation.
What is good for the goose is also good for the gander. The magic that President Buhari has performed that has made his Northern brothers content with his style of leadership, should be extended to other zones. Other zones deserve similar treatment to the one enjoyed by his brothers and kinsmen. It is only when this is done, that people of other zones can actually testify that they have a President who is actually not for anyone nor particular tribe.
President Muhammadu Buhari can actually cause the agitations for self determination to disappear overnight, by asking himself questions like: were agitations for secession before I came to power this pronounced? What action did my administration take that fuelled these agitations? among other pertinent questions. If he finds positive answers to these all important questions and works towards addressing the issues causing agitations, then Nigeria will be back on its feet once again.
The Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government can no longer continue keeping mute while the country is further divided along ethnic and religious lines. There is need for him to realise that posterity won’t be fair to him, if all that the nationalists who never segregated, fought for, to bring the country under one umbrella is allowed to go down the drains as a result of his inability to galvanise the citizenry, sue for peace and treat Nigerians as equals.
Much can be achieved at the round table provided it is done with sincerity of purpose, openness and a feeling that all are equal before the dialoguing table.
Time is indeed ticking for President Buhari to justify the saying he posited, ” I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”, else Nigerians especially from the West, South-South and South -East zones, will continue to describe him as a President for a particular tribe.
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
(By Izuchukwu Nwokoma, a Journalist and a Current Affairs Analyst).