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THE ESSENCE OF PEACE – A CALL TO DUTY – – ARISE! WOMEN, WIVES & ; MOTHERS

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Peace is never a perfect achievement. ‘’While this thought is a sobering reminder that peace very often follows war, suffering and hatred, it also fills us with hope. Peace is not perfect just as the world is not; yet there is no bridge too broken to rebuild, no past too difficult to overcome, no conflict too complex to solve, and no act of peace too small to make a difference.’’ — Kofi Annan; Departed former United Nations Secretary-General and Year 2001 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, 

WHAT UNITES US IS STRONGER THAN WHAT DIVIDES US:  Kofi Annan was chiefly noted for his proclivity for global peace. He was a fervent campaigner of peace, human rights, proper democracy and sustainable development. Annan deplored violence in all forms. He described some situations as   “completely unacceptable;” and preached to the global community, the power of non-violent actions to achieve a world free from violent conflict. UN records quote Kofi Annan as pleading that:  ‘’What unites us is stronger than what divides us. “More than ever before, in human history, we share a common destiny. ‘’We can master it only if we face it together.”  Furthermore, he believed that this action needs to include the actions of all. ‘’For him, young people are never too young to lead, and for all of society to benefit and grow, women must be given the space and the freedom to thrive, and villages around the world to make their own lives better.’’ For all his services, Kofi Annan never died unsung; but as a celebrity whose deeds live after him today; and most certainly, for a long time to come.

 WE MUST AVOID DISLOCATIONS TO PEACE: We are currently negotiating the bend to the general polls of February, 2019. That should be a very simple exercise devoid of acts of intolerance. Representative democracy is not about war or destabilization of any society. It is not a fight to finish affair because the future and fortunes of millions of people are affected. It is about peaceful and orderly conducts because war impoverishes, and memories of war are very painful. Ask professional fighters who have experienced wars. They will tell you that peace, under all circumstances, is better than war. This is why this renewed appeal is being made for all Nigerians to decide that we will show the whole world by conducts that we are true democrats who are civilized to conduct and participate in political transition activities.  There is the need to continue to re-engineer the nation’s value system in managing conflicts at its various levels.

SUPPORT THE ABUBAKAR PEACE COMMITTEE: This is why the Gen. Abdulsalami A. Abubakar (retd) and his team deserve commendations and our support. The committee’s intervention stems from the fact that commitments of timely engagement are required and preferable to the fire brigade approach of arresting crises. The committee is finding the way out of our current events to prevent degeneration  to a calamitous situation.  Dr. David Oyedepo, Chancellor, Covenant University in a paper titled: ‘Re-engineering the Mind of Africans is Key to Avoiding Conflicts’ observed that ‘’Africa’s problems stemmed from her inability to draw lessons from the “things we see, hear, observe and even experience”   And ‘’critical to the understanding of crises in Africa in the 21st century is the capacity to identify conflicts before they degenerate into catastrophes. ‘’There must be capacity-building as a vital tool in stemming conflicts;  as widespread societal conflicts in Africa are often played out against the backdrop of deep poverty, illiteracy, and weak systems of governance, undermined by unfavorable terms of trade, indebtedness and administrative failures.’’

THE VOTERS & THE POLITICAL CANVASSERS: From the foregoing, it could be asserted that poverty and lack of proper enlightenment and political culture are the key reasons why prospective voters line up like vultures, waiting for politicians to bribe them with miserable amounts that last for a few days. They forget that once bribed, they have sold their rights to take their representatives in government to task; because they lack the moral right to do so. They forget that a vote seller mortgages not only his/her own future, but also the future of their generations yet unborn for a mess of potage. They forget that whoever invests heavily in elections must recoup his or her money and this would be at the expense of the populace. My own Situation Report is that we pretend a lot; and we probably don’t allow our conscience to guide us. I asked from one junior professional colleague who is involved in politics last Saturday if the situation of ‘bribe for vote’ would change. He told me to perish the thought because voters are again waiting for politicians to come around to disgorge money! Honestly, I felt sad because that picture is that of a hopeless situation that showed that our generation might not witness true democracy simply because a few people from across the political parties have the means assemble themselves in some locations to decide who emerges winners of electoral contests and hold us to ransom. .

PEACE MUST BE MADE REAL & TANGIBLE: While noting that it is impossible not to have conflicts, we can certainly avoid them.  Kofi Annan submitted that: ‘’Over the past five years, I have often recalled that the United Nations’ Charter begins with the words: “We the peoples.” What is not always recognized is that “We the peoples” are made up of individuals whose claims to the most fundamental rights have too often been sacrificed in the supposed interests of the State or the nation. ‘’A genocide begins with the killing of one man — not for what he has done, but because of who he is. A campaign of ‘ethnic cleansing’ begins with one neighbour turning on another. Poverty begins when even one child is denied his or her fundamental right to education. What begins with the failure to uphold the dignity of one life, all too often ends with a calamity for entire nations. In this new century, we must start from the understanding that peace belongs not only to States or peoples, but to each and every member of those communities. The sovereignty of States must no longer be used as a shield for gross violations of human rights. ‘’Peace must be made real and tangible in the daily existence of every individual in need. Peace must be sought, above all, because it is the condition for every member of the human family to live a life of dignity and security.’’

WHY PEACE ELUDES SOCIETIES:  Peace has continued to elude several nations. It is obvious that we have been most unreasonable in the African continent, given the fact that the United Nations has spent 75% of its resources in dealing with conflicts in Africa, thus making the continent a liability to the world body. We cannot and should not continue in this manner. Nigeria will not join that league by the special grace of God and our applying wisdom and truth guided by our conscience. Enormous resources committed to peace-building and enforcement generally could have otherwise been expended on developing societies. Nigeria is so strategic to the present and future of Africa such that our political and elite classes cannot afford to be unreasonable. Conflicts slow down development and the much touted foreign investments might not come except there are assurances of peace through our individual and collective conducts. We must prevent competition for spoils of office from consuming 170 million Nigerians; the West-African sub-region. And even the African continent. Nelson Mandela asserted that the black world will not be respected except Nigeria takes the lead. We have the resources to build a truly united and progressive polity.

The Psalmist in Ps. 122: 6-9, enjoins us to: ‘“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.’ For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’ For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your prosperity.” We can do with lesser tension.Romans 12:18 exhorts us to live at peace with others; instructing that: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men”. Nigeria is our Jerusalem because it has a special place in the heart of the Creator.  If we must say the truth, most of the problems on the political turf have their rootsinpolitical succession plans, greed, and insensitivity to the feelings of others. It cuts across the strata of the elite and political classes. We can do with lesser tension if we reduce poverty, insincere attitudes, lack of conscience. While it is important that the citizens of any democracy involve themselves by participating in issues pertaining to their welfare, it is also crucial that professionals in the public sector educate themselves on the issues and challenges associated with the public sector. Drucker (1999)

 ENDURANCE: Unfortunately, the masses that are bearing the brunt of all negative situations have chosen to refuse to act in a way that would make politicians know that they merely hold power in trust for the citizenry.  That is the essence of the representative democracy that we have been building since 1960. The appalling situation was what a friend, colleague, of powerful writer, Olalere Fagbola described as: ‘’Head or Tail; Vote Sellers Are the Losers.’’ But do vote sellers care in as much as they are able to consume their today, and even tomorrow in a jiffy? As for TERRIFIC HEADLINES, we will play our part by linking up with respected opinion leaders and moulders; as well as the relevant people in the society who could prevail on the people to refrain from all forms of crises during the approaching contests. Let voices ring out in our places of worship for voter enlightenment and campaign for peaceful conducts. Professional and civil society organizations also have great roles to play if our generation must know true democracy; and for us to move forward.

SHINING EXAMPLES ABOUND: If we could endure British colonial rule for decades, hold six constitutional talks on Nigeria’s independence in London between 1953-1960; if no blood including those of the colonialists was shed by any political party, when the British superintended over the affairs of what is obviously the most strategic and important nation in Africa; then it makes no sense if we refuse to allow democratic conducts and peace to reign supreme, or resort to violence this era of civilization.  It is very sure that whoever has the authority to influence the course of events positively, and stays on the side of truth, and supports sane conducts that could ensure smooth democratic processes will have his/her name recorded on the positive pages of history.

OUR GLORIOUS YEARS – We should be proud of our antecedents because those nations at the forefront recognized our potential. A contributor to debate on Nigeria’s Independence in the House of Commons in 1960 had this to say: TRIBUTE: Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough) a Member of the British Parliament in 1960 is recorded as commending Nigeria’s leaders of the First Republic this way: ‘‘We should recognise, however, that the greatest tribute should be paid and the greatest gratitude expressed to the people of Nigeria themselves and their leaders. ‘’Those leaders have shown very great statesmanship. ‘’One rejoices that a man of such breadth and tolerance should now be the Prime Minister of the Federation. One rejoices in the character and the contribution of the Sardauna of Sokoto. ‘’But I cannot help thinking today back to the Constitutional Conference of 1953, when it was the statesmanship of Chief Awolowo of Western Nigeria and of Dr. Azikiwe of Eastern Nigeria that enabled this Bill to be introduced today. ’’If our great leaders of the First Republic, before the age of 50 years were able to record those accomplishments when the literacy level was dangerously low, but they refused to play on the intelligence of the masses; then one cannot but ask: What has happened; what is happening to us individually and collectively; and what is the recipe?  Where will our own individual and collective names be written? What will we tell God when we render accounts to him?

NNAMDI AZIKIWE’S ADMONITION: If natives who fought for independence and peace of our great nation could turn around in their graves, they probably would lament about our conducts. I read the Hansard – debates and proceedings of the British Parliament that led to Nigeria’s independence and felt very happy at the commendation and recognition accorded our departed leaders as highly intelligent and patriotic people as reproduced above. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who was tagged: ‘A stormy petrel’ by the British warned, just before the 1964 Federal elections that: ‘’’I have one advice to give to our politicians: If they have decided to destroy our national unity, then they should summon a round-table conference to decide how our national assets should be divided, before they seal their doom by satisfying their lust for office …. Should the politicians fail to heed this warning, I will venture the prediction that the experience of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will be child’s play, if it ever comes to our turn to play such a tragic role.’– President Nnamdi Azikiwe, 10 December 1964, in a ‘Dawn Address’ to the nation (Mackintosh, 1966: 581) May such never happen again in this country.

A CALL TO DUTY – – WOMEN, WIVES & MOTHERS – RESCUE US: The real problem now is that people are refusing to learn from the mistakes of the past, in spite of the fact that we are all aware of the pitfalls and landmines that must be avoided. Certainly, we must tone down the strong influences of animosity that have unfortunately pervaded the political atmosphere. We must give expression to politics without bitterness, and imbibe a spirit of tolerance and sportsmanship. What is wrong with winning or losing elections?  Why can’t we all resolve that we shall have a very transparent exercise and will work towards forging an agenda that would throw Nigeria up there in the front row in the comity of nations? Let me be a little bit sentimental here. What is the role of women, wives and mothers? If they fail to create an interest in what becomes of this great nation, they are reminded that they have spouses and sons who could be directly negatively affected in the event of people resorting to violence. Disturbance to public peace is not the answer to our problems; neither would circumvention of electoral regulations lead us anywhere. Rigging of elections is surely not a good option.

Our women and mothers, who exert moderating influence that is unquantifiable, have huge roles to play in fostering peace, peaceful conducts, and progress in every society. By the time our women spend the whole day or a whole week ministering to their husbands and family units on what are the proper steps to take, (like the woman in the Holy Bible, who continually troubled the Judge who eventually acceded to her request) we most probably would listen to our wives and mothers. There is every probability that we will yield to their good counsel and demands as men always feel troubled by what they consider like to keep grumbling away from their sights. It is also notable that most of our problems are of our own making, not that of the devil.  But whatever the immediate source, God is the Ultimate Sovereign over the problems we face. We also need to keep in mind the fact that being godly does not exempt us from suffering.  “Whom the Lord loves, He disciplines” (Prov. 3:12; Heb. 12:6)

 SENTIMENTS APART: Let us put sentiments aside and conducts ourselves in a civilized manner. This nation is greater than all of us and should be assisted to grow. We must not permit conflagration. And we must conduct ourselves in accordance with the rules of the game. We will continue to work out measures that would promote peace in accordance with our social responsibility. We owe it a duty to Nigeria to contribute our quota positively to peaceful conducts and national growth. In my home, my wife is free to owe allegiance to any political party of her choice. I don’t even bother to ask her. If I show up in your office for a brief consultation, (women only) please don’t think I am from any particular political party. I may appear, and I could email; only driven by national interest and my innate feelings.

May the good Lord bless Nigeria.

Nigeria’s Dry Bones Shall Rise Again. (Ezekiel 37:1-14)