‘’Yet if we can invest in a different vision of peaceful coexistence, I think we can change the world, because every problem has a nonviolent answer.’’ — RigobertaMenchu
Obafemi Awolowo, in his book ‘Thoughts on the Nigerian Constitution’ stressed the need for Nigerians to be honest in their appraisal of events and admit their failings and limitations. Awolowo asserted that: “what we lack very much is a sufficient number of powerful leaders with the calibre, character, and qualities, requisite for uniting and keeping happily together the diverse elements in our nation, and for the courageous and effective assault on the multitudinous and intractable-looking problems which beset us. ‘’Whatever we do, we must not permit ourselves to run away from this stark reality. ‘’Besides, the much talked about tribalism must be recognized for what it really is. It is more of a psychological and economic problem than a political one. As a political epiphenomenon, we can certainly minimize its evil effects”.
The foregoing translates into the fact that unless true leadership is offered, the polity may not witness remarkable progress. To be able to achieve greater development and even-handedness, all of us, no matter our places of origin and religion, must work harder and avoid making utterances that have the tendencies of eroding unity, mutual trust, and progress. In their present positions, our royal fathers and leaders of our socio-cultural organization must act with wisdom and lead the way to stemming the tide of current challenges, and others that would be encountered periodically.
My first lesson is that in today’s world, the security of every one of us is linked to that of everyone else. That was already true in Truman’s time. The man who in 1945 gave the order for nuclear weapons to be used – for the first, and let us hope the only, time in history – understood that security for some could never again be achieved at the price of insecurity for others. He was determined, as he had told the founding conference of the United Nations in San Francisco, to “prevent, if human mind, heart, and hope can prevent it, the repetition of the disaster [meaning the world war] from which the entire world will suffer for years to come”. He believed strongly that henceforth security must be collective and indivisible. That was why, for instance, he insisted, when faced with aggression by North Korea against the South in 1950, on bringing the issue to the United Nations and placing US troops under the UN flag, at the head of a multinational force.
But how much more rue it is in our open world today: a world where deadly weapons can be obtained not only by rogue states but by extremist groups; a world where Sars or avian flu can be carried across oceans, let alone national borders, in a matter of hours; a world where failed states in the heart of Asia or Africa can become havens for terrorists; a world where even the climate is changing in ways that will affect the lives of everyone on the planet. Against such threats as these, no nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over all others. 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. And I would add that this responsibility is not simply a matter of states being ready to come to each other’s aid when attacked – important though that is. It also includes our shared responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity – a responsibility solemnly accepted by all nations at last year’s UN summit…..Kofi Annan, in his valedictory speech as United Nations Secretary General at the Truman Presidential Museum and Library in Independence, Missouri, United States.
ROLE OF THE CIVIL POPULACE
The story of the political development of Nigeria is a mixed grill of hardship and ease; regrets, truth and joy. If the truth must be told, embers of ethnic and tribal prejudices have been fanned largely by those who should encourage national unity and those who understand political history of the developed world whose style of governance we are copying. Nigeria is expected to be a land where all men are born equal and have access to the same opportunities without any form of discrimination. An examination of the role of the civil populace in the Nigeria fiasco, particularly the intelligentsia are inextricably linked to the issues identified as responsible for the drift of Nigeria. Who are the opinion leaders, and who are those who shape the perception of issues and events in the country for the majority of the followership? Arguably, they are the political class and the intelligentsia, who are regarded as children of traditional rulers who might be able to call them to order. Our royal fathers, therefore, have a great role to play by remaining apolitical and take more active interest in encouraging peaceful conducts and development. It is improper and barbaric for anybody to terminate human lives. The task is burdensome; but achievable.