Although the 1999 Constitution of the country says it all, but still, there are some Nigerians that consider themselves more superior than others, more resourceful than others or better naturally endowed than others. Out of parochial sentiments, some Nigerians consider other components of the federation as parasites or dependants, forgetting that there is no component of the federation that lacks what to depend on for sustenance and even a better living independently.
In 2015, as part of the campaign strategy of a component that considered one of the presidential candidates its own traded in several insults, abuses and hate speeches against a particular component just to frighten and possibly ‘force’ the other component to denounce its love to the best presidential candidate, it offered the country for election.
Despite the hate speeches, threats of disintegration and continuous vandalization of oil pipelines as sabotage, the other component maintained its determination to succeed, and it succeeded. Since then, the tune changed and there was silence. Those rogues and hooligans who threatened the existence of a united Nigeria for crumbs went into hiding while majority of their sponsors vamoosed to exile with few as regular guests to the anti-corruption bodies.
As a perceived better government took over on May 29, 2015, one had to appeal to Nigerians to see themselves as, one humanity. We need to work hard together to disconnect from the attitudes of the past that almost ruined the entity. There was no group in Nigeria completely alien to the other in the pre-colonial days. The problems cut across ethnic or tribal groups, faiths or ‘no faiths’, states and regions. The problems were caused by almost all of us. The solutions have to come from almost all of us.
We should, as an issue of moral necessity, question how our brothers and sisters are faring with our resources as appointed or elected public officers at local government, state or national levels. The problems we have are class-based (the masses versus the ruling elites) and not ethnic or tribal-based. The problems were not caused by Yoruba, Bolawa, Karekare, Igbo, Ebira, Igala, Ijaw, Kanuri, Tiv, Igede, Igala, Gbagyi, Bwateye, Jukun, Hausa, Fulani, Gere, Sanga, Basharawa, Miango, Jhar, Itsekiri, Uhurbo or Ngas leaders.
Our problems were caused by the followers who individually and collectively embraced a culture of impunity in their daily lives. The followers who ensured their wards pass WAEC or make ‘progress’ in their endeavours through fraud and then expect same wards that are products of fraud to bring up a sane society where things can work.
The followers who demand or offer bribes for jobs and services and honour individuals of dubious means while consciously or otherwise dishonour individuals of mentoring qualities because they are of little means. The followers who have forgotten that our leaders emerged from the same culture of impunity they enthroned and that those leaders cannot establish a better society worth the name. The followers who are ready to lose their lives for their predators: the same individuals who enthroned poverty, infrastructural deficiency and fraud in the polity.
The problems we have were caused by professionals, who failed to live by the ethics of their professions. Our problems are caused by staff of public agencies and institutions such as the Judiciary, Anti-Corruption Agencies, Investigative and Disciplinary Panels who cover acts of impunity and ensure no deterrence is served. Our problems are caused by lawmakers who become lawbreakers for selfish interests.
The problems we have are caused by leaders who enthrone the culture of parochialism, patronage and ethnic bigotry. The leaders who ensure employments and jobs are secured because of who one knows and not because of qualities to deliver the goals. The leaders who after mismanaging the regular monthly federation allocations, go ahead to obtain loans for further mismanagement and indebtedness to bequeath to unborn generations. The leaders who when called to account for their stewardship recruit youths or ‘elders’ who they deliberately impoverished through stealing to fight for their ‘self-acclaimed ethnic, political, regional, tribal or religious saviour’.
Clearly, the nation is faced with problems of endemic poverty and infrastructural deficiency across the states and zones. Youth unemployment is a huge challenge and a threat to peace. Oil prices are at the lowest level globally. No one can predict when crude oil prices will be better again and for how long. Diversification from dependence on oil as the main source of revenue to agriculture and solid minerals exploitation remains the only option for a better Nigeria where no component can see the other as a parasite.
Elections were held and leaders emerged. We should now strive to put the pre-election campaigns behind us. Opposition parties, social critics and whistleblowers should engage in constructive criticisms of government policies at all levels to position those in leadership to be more active and possibly move the nation forward if they so desire. Those in leadership should focus more on delivering their campaign promises not dishing out deceit and pretence spiced with parochial lies for cheap popularity. They should fight impunity which breeds corruption and engage all on the way forward.
Nigeria at this crucial moment needs the sacrifice of its citizens wherever they may be to proffer solutions to its myriad of problems. We need to bring up the best of creativity in us to enthrone ethical values individually and collectively, establish systematic reforms, bring up our educational system to a productive standard which can resolve our societal problems, diversify the economy, rein in the pervasive impunity in the polity, and ensure probity and accountability in governance.
We need one another irrespective of imaginary differences that are most of the time overblown by jobbers, clowns and rogues. We do not need fragmented non-workable entities. We need a united Nigeria where justice and peace reign. Let us remain united in diversity to drive the progress and development Nigeria desperately needs. Our differences in faith, region, tribe, culture etc should not becloud our reasoning and love for one another. Instead, we should bury those imaginary differences to forge ahead to being an Eldorado.
The recent #EndSARS protest remains a pointer to where most Nigerians are heading to courtesy of years of police brutality, extortion, extra-judicial killings and clueless leadership at the centre and in some components of the federation.
As Nigerians patiently wait for the outcome of the promised police reform, there are several other cases against the Nigeria Police that deserve immediate attention for a truly reformed police force. What of those cases of murder of suspects in police custody? What of cases of rape in police custody? What of cases of bail for cash? What of the cases of torture in police custody to obtain information from suspects? As the reformation is going on, there are still cases of torture and extortion in police facilities. Is the Nigeria Police ever ready for President Buhari’s reformation or prepared for another round of protest? What of the withdrawal of police orderlies to unqualified elites and politicians as directed by the police Inspector-General? We still see police escorts carrying briefcases of politicians and the thieving elites with mortuary sirens scaring away the people. Nigeria is truly getting ripe for real revolution from my own understanding.
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues