By Chief Olabode George ( Atona Oodua of Yorubaland)
We are back again at a momentous period in the history of this fragile union. We are being pulled everywhere by fissiparous forces. There is fear, ruin, banditry and freelance murderousness from all corners of our beleaguered nation. The blood of innocent people flow in gory sights. Everything seems disturbed, distorted, sliding towards anarchical largeness.
The senseless killings, the cruel inhuman massacre of the Igangan natives in the Yoruba heartland by suspected herdsmen in the wee hours of last Sunday has brought the seething malady right to our door steps. No one is safe anymore.
I wonder, what hate, what evil, what madness will propel anyone of sane mind to plunge into the night with weapons of war, seeking out fellow citizens for pillage and murder? It puzzles rationality. It benumbs the senses.
The Igangan massacre is now a watershed in this ceaseless psychopathic killings that now pester our country without let. It will continue to haunt us all.
The central government is losing grip over our collective protection. This much the Northern Elders Forum affirmed on Monday. The NEF is of the view that there is a weakening of Will and discernment among those who constitute the national arbitrating guidance.
The center appears overwhelmed, stunned, halted, stalled, puzzled about grappling with the Nigerian challenges.
They can do better. We must review our focus and our ultimate horizon. Nigeria must withdraw from the destructive brink.
But the way forward is through fairness, truth, justice and equitable accommodation.
We have for long been divided by ethnic jingoism and sectarian bias. The withdrawal to the ethnic laager and nepotistic favoritism diminishes the national tableau.
A nation is not about narrow irredentist fixation. It is larger. It is about common goals and shared values. It is about common destinies and common verities. Anything else is a conglomeration of indifferent, wobbling and wavering entities. It is a deviation from the normative patterns of a nation-state.
A greater Nigeria can be achieved when we are genuinely interested in the pivot of merit, in the illustration of excellence as the guiding principles of our national life.
Nigeria dangles on the precipice. It struggles and teeters at the cliff edge. However, all is not lost. Let us listen to the wisdom of our founding fathers.
Our pioneering Prime Minister Alhaji Tafawa Balewa once observed that “Nigerian democracy should be an ethnic commonwealth which should give each constituent a fair place even if they have lost at the polls.”
If this is not sobering, nothing else will. The predication here is about mutual accommodation, selfless embrace of our fellow citizens, the distancing from ethnic hate, the eschewing of tribal bigotry, the embrace of everything that will graduate our nation towards a more developmental and sterling country where merit determines the personal importance, where knowledge enhances the growth of the average citizen.
We live in a global village where no one, no
matter how powerful can defy the consensus of the free world.
The suspension of Twitter is part of the subsisting aberration. It is wrong -footed. It is hasty, unreflective, lacking in contemplative articulations. Twitter is in the world stage. It has become a permanent usage where world leaders and youths express their ideological bent. It is the utmost symbol of democratic aspirations. You don’t ban such a symbol of global exchange. You embrace it. This hasty decision must be withdrawn forthwith. We need Twitter just as the world is enhanced through democratic exchange. You do not banish plural contributions. You encourage it. This is our national challenge.
Our country is thus bestirred in widening uncertainties. There are no certitudes anywhere as lawlessness defines the national landscape. The very first principle of governance which is predicated on protection of life and properties is no longer valid. The law enforcement agencies are often exhausted, overwhelmed, sliding into virtual ineffectiveness.
We cannot continue with the old ways. The system is now devoid of stabilizing balance. We must rework it. We must push towards a renewal and a rebirth.
There must be a change of vision through a constitutional overhaul. The present document is the very pivot of the Nigerian malady. It lacks fairness, stripped of equitable balance, negates justice, skewed deliberately to favor a section of our people.
This is hardly the path of building an enduring society. Great nations are built upon accommodating largeness where everyone must have a sense of belonging. The fair society insists on merit, frowns upon nepotism, encourages participatory inclusiveness, creates equal opportunity for everyone to actualize himself.
If our nation must survive, if this democracy must long endure, this distorted system must give way to a new enlightened dawn.
This must start with the whittling down of power at the center, giving the components units more enabling capability to determine their fortunes. The States must be made to be self-accounting as they freely develop the tools of economic growth and democratic aspirations. Each State should be allowed to develop at its own pace without the overbearing authority of the center.
Indeed, what we have now is basically a unitary system with a military style hierarchical order where the man at the top merely barks out instructions without any comprehension of what is on the ground. How can such an arbiter make an equitable decision? It will never happen. He is too far, too distant from the locus of action.
If this nation must survive, if this nation must be enriched in sustainable validity, we must go back to a real federating entity where each unit can freely exploit its God given resources for the good of its people.
The wild ogre of brigandage, the reckless sneak attack in the night, the venomous savaging of life and property will naturally dissipate as local law enforcement agencies tighten the noose on the outlaws.
Peace will invariably be installed, the nation itself will breathe a calmer air as the reign of equitable balance and fairness will dictate our national polity.
Throughout civilizations, throughout the challenges of human societies, the constant unfailing ingredient that holds a nation in strong and enduring bond is strictly “Justice”. A nation without Justice is a nation that is entrapped in its own self contrived ruin. It will fall.
A nation without Justice has already compromised its existence. It will not live for long. For without Justice there can be no peace. And in the absence of peace there comes the grip of iniquity and the scourge of iniquity does not breed enduring society. It destroys hope, it destroys normalcy, it invites anarchy and forfeiture. May our country make the right choice as we grapple with these ceaseless challenges of dismemberment.
Let me leave you with this quotation from the former British Prime Minister Mr. Gordon Brown
“If any man is not safe then no one is safe”
Finally let this presentation be a guiding pathway for National reflection as we all strive together towards a more perfect union.
-Chief Bode George,
Atona Oodua of Yorubaland
Wednesday, June 9th, 2021