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CATALYSIS

Nigeria in distress: Time for the Nigerian factor

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WE ARE in dire situation. That is an understatement. Our case is actually, worse. All through history, our land has never experienced a sustained daily deluge of bad news as she is encountering, currently. Unfortunately, there is no end insight.

    Not even during the 1967—1970 Civil War did we witness such a sequence of dastardly acts and scary stories in a dumb-founding pace.  In fact, bad tales are not fit description of the events of the moment all over Nigeria. Things have degenerated beyond everyone’s imagination. Even the most begorra-oriented prophet of doom could not have forecast the  current drift to doldrum.

We are all lost in wonder, fear and fervid tension. We now encounter bloodletting, arson, mass killing, kidnapping and their ilk. Yet the heartless populists and demagouges would not spare us a brething space. Daily, they force the most damning forms of hate speeches and wicked communications on us in the most heart-rending manner. Every sentence in most comments we are served in Nigeria, especially, on issues of politics and cultural identity slices sharply like the slaughter’s knife slashing through a kill. 

Quality of human life here rapidly drops in ‘per-second’ rate with every new action from the killers, kidnappers  and those who ‘speak daggers’ in open fora and public spaces as well as social and conventional media. There seems a trend among the people who do the acts to make every subsequent act more gory and cruel than the previous. They exhibit oddious showmanship and dry thirst for despicable displays , and they appear to enjoy the attention they attract.

 From killing with bombs, guns and other weapons, the murderers have evolved to mass slaughter, beheading of a large number of people in open street, and making shows of the outings in widely circulated short videos.

While the killers and abductors are on the prowl in the most heartles manner, hate speech mongers go about theirs, bandying the most extreme forms of divisive messages which dry up sleep from the beholder’s night and instantly turns him against his neighbour. They care no bit, the extent of damage their messages cause the society. They do not relent even when they are made aware that they are encouraging anarchy or fanning the embers of violence which can consume them too if continued.

Indeed, ours appear to be also turning into what the 16th Century philosopher, Thomas Hobbes descibed as a society in the state of nature where things are miserable and in state of war in which none of our important human ends are reliably realizable. Everything is becoming barbaric and life has become short, brutish and callously mundane.

Things are turning so bad now that it appears there is no time that can be worse. Even in the economy and in physical health of citizens of the land, things are pointing towards the red mark.

Now that we have it this terrible, we cannot aim for the worst. The only option we have is to pause, pick up our ‘commonsense’ wherever we dropped it and think, else we will soon hit our doom.

  We must note the things that make Nigeria­, the giant land of great feats and stars in brain and brawn – ‘the Nigerian factor’ we always talk about.

  Though it looks like our angels have fled from the window, as the demons walked in through the door, it is still worth recalling that this nation had forbearers who engaged their heads to evolve solutions more than they used their hands to throw stones when knotty social and political situations like we have now, emerged.

  When people of almost every other nation under European colonial rule engaged in bloody wars and ghastly struggles to fight themselves out of the grips of colonial governments in the middle of 20th Century, our ancestors deployed no gunshots. There was no conflict anywhere as Nigeria rigorously but smartly negotiated her ways out of British hold, and our independence was acheived on October 1, 1960.

 When the devil descended in our First Republic and we had a very bitterly fought war, 1967 through 1970, it was as if Nigeria was gone. But upon the war’s end in January 15, 1970, the Nigeria miracle returned in unprecedented manner, and the country still stands, half a century after.

    After the inconclusive June 12, 1993 general election, Nigeria was heading for burst again. For over six years, the country boiled, simmered but never burst. Through our sages of the time such as the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, the country was smartly navigated back to peace. Vexed elements were pacified. Dr. Olusegun Obansajo, a former military Head of State, who was serving jail term in early 1999, was brought out and elected president of Nigeria by the middle of the year, in pacification of his native Yoruba people for the botched 1993 presidential election in which his kinsmen, Moshood Abiola, would have won.

    As sitting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan had to vacate office without contesting obvious grey arrears in 2015 presidential polls held for his second term bids because there was tension in parts of the country. His now popular expression: “My election is not worth any Nigerian’s blood”, captured the mood of the time.

   Mr Jonathan sensed that it was more honourable for him to deny the demons opportunity to seize his country.

   Now we live in very dire times. Nobody is safe. Nobody seems to know what to do. Yet people are dying in score regularly, and gory things happen in crazy pace. It is high time we reminded ourselves that Nigeria is smarter than her current madness. That wisdom that guided our earlier resolutions still lives in us.

   What differentiates a Nigeria from say a Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen among others is the evident in the engagement of collegiate ideas. This country has a trove of experiences that highlight the value of negotiating out of crises. We are not known for fighting to scatter rather we prize the fact that sincere discussion capped by agreements is better than whatever trophy that comes to any party in a bloody fight. We naturally like working methodically through the mire of heated situation. Time and again, Nigeria has won through this approach in her plethora of crises.

   This is the time to invoke that Nigerian spirit to avoid letting our land degenerate to the irreparable.

   However, our growing rank of speakers and spreaders of extreme negative views must realise this and create the environment. They must begin to tone down the ‘them versus us’ narrative. Their realisation that “we are all in this together,” and nobody is likely to escape unhurt when the burst come would help them appreciate the extent of damage possible when next they speak in a broadcast, write in newspaper, tweet, do WhatsApp or Facebook post or hold court in pubs, buses or churches and seek to bring the roof down. Should they pause to ponder the feelings being aroused in the man on the street, daily by their hate speechs they would know why nobody is happy on our streets today.

A land filled with angry ghosts never soothes anybody.We must save ourselves by calming the angst on the streets. Let us engage the Nigerian factor.

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