LET’S REASON TOGETHER: OUR PATIENCE WILL ACHIEVE MORE THAN OUR FORCE
Suddenly, too many people appear to be aggrieved,and the staccato of voices ringing out appears to be very disturbing, especially not only on account of the fact that they threaten national cohesion and stability; but could be interpreted to be sounding like drums of war.The intention here, as the title of this piece suggests, is not to find faults with any individual, organization or government. It merelyserves as a special appeal to all Nigerians, in the name of God, to embrace the option of peaceful coexistence and resolution of crises, just as it conveys pleas to well-meaning leaders and rulers to step up interventions, in order to tone down the strong influences of animosity that have unfortunately pervaded the atmosphere.It was a political theorist, Edmund Burke, who once asserted that ”our patience will achieve more than our force.”
Thoughts and opinions occur in every organized political setting all over the world. We would be pretending if we say all is well with our polity. And the fact remains that all of us, Nigerians are complicit in arriving where we have suddenly found ourselves. Reactions from several quarters are very disturbing and must give cause for concern. There have been reports of separatist intentions and threats to bring the economy of the country to its knees. So many people have taken to the New Media to express their frustrations; with so many coming as disturbing messages on account of the contents of the messages. Some wrote that Muhammadu Buhari is sponsoring cattle traders. I said impossible, because nobody would wish to create problems for himself or herself, by deliberately shooting himself or herself on the foot. Another voice said that Goodluck Jonathan is the sponsor of herdsmen! I said foul, because herdsmen would never listen to Jonathan. Some reactions indeed give cause for concern such that one is constrained to believe that fifth columnists might have infiltrated the ranks of people who contribute to discourse responsibly and on good faith. You now find people claiming to be Imams and Pastors circulating very dangerous information in a manner that could shake national cohesion and stability.
What are the probable causes of all these regrettable incidents? Xavier William, in his book: ‘New Age Tantrums’ describes violence as ‘’an act arising from fear, anger, frustration, greed and/or other causes that leads to injury or damages in real or mental terms to persons and their reputations, animals or property.” Feelings of fear, anger and frustration give rise to violent acts and these acts in turn fuel the fears, anger and frustration into a vicious cycle of spiraling fear, anger and violence. Elsewhere, The United Nation’s ‘World Report on Violence’ defines violence as:‘’The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.”Frictions threaten stability, cohesion and development. It is, therefore, the responsibility of everyone in all societies; Governmentand the citizenry, to keep friction at the barest minimum. What should be of concern is the pervasive pessimism in the land. In the words of Harry S. Truman, “The president is the representative of the whole nation and he’s the only lobbyist that all the one hundred and sixty million people in the country have.”
But the truth is that we cannot leave PMB alone to handle the national crises on hand on account of the fact that the buck stops on his table. We have our common problems to which all Nigerians must pay particular attention and create peaceful means by engaging ourselves in frank discussions. All leaders and rulers, as well as opinion leaders must be mindful of where we could find ourselves if we are not careful, and must, therefore, offer the correct recipe dispassionately. We must not allow conflagration, or for our nation to head towards precipice.Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, who has seen it allonce asserted that ‘’We all share responsibility for each other’s security, and only by working to make each other secure can we hope to achieve lasting security for ourselves. ‘’It also includes our shared responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity – a responsibility solemnly adopted by the United Nations. Quoting Harry Truman, Annan said that: ‘’The lesson here is that high-sounding doctrines like the “responsibility to protect” will remain pure rhetoric unless and until those with the power to intervene effectively – by exerting political, economic or, in the last resort, military muscle – are prepared to take the lead. And I believe we have a responsibility not only to our contemporaries but also to future generations – a responsibility to preserve resources that belong to them as well as to us, and without which none of us can survive.’’
A global citizen, Olusegun Obasanjo, in his speech at the National Conference on Conflict Resolution held in Abuja warned that: ‘’Violent conflicts leave everyone with a lot of grief, hate, fear and insecurity as constant companions.‘’No one can win in conflicts of this nature. ‘’Even where it appears that one community has secured a brief victory, it retreats to live in fear that its illusionary victory may be snatched, and it could in turn be the loser tomorrow. ‘’To live in hate and perpetual fear is a terrible end to design for our people. And any government that does not deploy all its attention and resources towards relieving our communities of their current siege under these evil designs, is not doing justice to the mandate freely given by the people..……It must be baffling to an outsider that we violent quarrel because of such things as land, our faiths, or for one public office or the other, in a nation so wellendowed as to allow everyone with enough room to search for his livelihood without fighting his neighbour.’’
THE WAY FORWARD&THE IMPORTANCE & MODE OF ENGAGING IN PARTNERSHIPS
Prof. Akin Oyebode, in his article in the Nigerian Tribune hot the nail on the head. He noted that it is wrong to kill and maim people and described such acts as “barbaric, primitive and senseless”. Prof. Oyebode went further to situate the blame for the country’s inability to develop a viable political culture at the doorsteps of opinion and political leaders; asserting that: “Those people who can call the nation to order now are very few; they don’t have the gut and they lack the courage. ‘’Even, when they have the intellect, they are afraid to talk. ‘’We claim to be operating democracy, but we are operating it without democrats. ‘’This is the real problem” Without cooperation among the Executive, Legislature and the citizenry, however right our assumptions might be, achievement of goals would remain a mirage. Costly errors and innocent mistakes might have been committed over the years. That is human.What is desirable now is an atmosphere for mutual love, trust and cooperation as joint stakeholders in the Nigeria project. Finding solutions to the unity of the constituent parts of Nigeria is the responsibility of the citizenry; coordinated by government. There is an urgent need for us to establish what is right and what is wrong. Without any doubt, we must unite to find solutions to potentially explosive situations, as many people clamouring for war will be the first to escape, God forbid, should Nigeria get to that stage.
Fortunately, the Federal Government has promised that those who engage in these senseless acts will be brought to book. Until the Rule of Law is allowed to operate properly, there might be no end to our common problems, including the extant ones on hand. One of the solutions might be for rulers, leaders in all classes, and their followers,to reason together to find just and equitable solutions to the problems on ground. We must cultivate new progressive attitudes and approaches that would ensure that we live together peacefully; and with due respect for the sanctity of human lives. I respectfully propose that the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Sa’ad Abubakar, assisted by the Emir of Kano and a few other Muslim leaders reach out to their people in both the North and South for voices to ring out in every Mosque tomorrow, (Friday) pleading with their followers to eschew bitterness and cohabit peacefully. From the side of the Christians, I most humbly implore His Eminence, Rev. (Dr) SupoAyokunle, to coordinate his influential colleagues, particularly Pastor E.A. Adeboye, Pastor WF Kumuyi, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Prelate Emeritus Sunday Mbang,Primate Nicholas Okoh and Bishop David Oyedepo to react positively and plead with their people (North and South) to allow peace to prevail., as a first step towards going forward. Furthermore, let us consider bringing these eminent personalities together to discuss, in a joint meeting with leaders of the Federal Executive and Legislative arms, as one of the starting points to healing the very deep wounds.
It is sure that if this democracy must endure, there must be more discussions, consultations and cooperation,to guide decisions that could ensure quick resolution of crises through information-sharing, dialogue and diplomatic means. Let us put aside political differences for now, and identify political leaders across the board, particularly those who could contain the situation in their areas, to increase activity on peace and reconciliation. Lastly, framers of the new constitution may wish to consider a home-grown political system that would address all ourproblems. May God Almighty guide our thoughts and reactions at this critical period.