THURSDAY COLUMN BY SAFIYA ADAMU
There is an adage that says “he who angers you conquers you”. I start today with this adage because of the unnecessary heat in the polity, it is avoidable if caution and maturity is applied. Nigerians are in challenging times and every one of us is on edge but it should not be so, not at all. Like all the good people of Nigeria I am concerned at the extent of hate speech, at the level to which the politicians are willing to sink and take us with them. Hate speeches and insinuations, deliberate distortions of facts and history can only result in our self-destruct. We owe it to ourselves to ensure this does not happen because the consequences will be dire, forget the frivolities and flippancy of those who would want us to believe that Nigeria does not matter. Let it be stated categorically here that it matters; it matters to those of us who value Nigeria and being Nigerians because we appreciate what it is to have a country. There is anger of course all over the world right now; some strategically channeled, while others are sporadic eruptions with various factors taking responsibilities. There is for example the Black Lives Matters (BLM) that is gradually growing into a world movement and of course there are the infamous and notorious like the ISWAP and ISIS. But in Nigeria we are mostly besieged by the copycat syndrome so we had the occupy bla –bla- bla and things like End SARS that eventually fizzle out due to lack of sincerity and so on. We tend to want to believe we are a special people, but are we?
What makes us special as a people? Why do we think we are different from other people? We are not!! Tell you what, take a look around the region and sub-region and tell yourself what you see? Liberia went through an eleven-year period of war, look at Sierra Leone, Central African Republic (CAR), Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda, and even Angola. All of these countries would have grown and probably gone far in the quest for development if only they had channeled their energy into nation building instead of war. You want to go further? Ask the Serbians and the Bosnians. Their experiences are not what we should wish on ourselves in any circumstances whether directly or indirectly. We are not different from others I have realized, because I used to think that we Nigerians so love to live that no right thinking citizen of Nigeria will ever contemplate suicide bombing, reports of such acts used to sound so strange and unpalatable. Ha, the story is different today; we have unwittingly brought together the combined evils of kidnapping, armed robbery, militancy and insurgency in the country through sheer incompetence and ineptitude, incapacity for hindsight, lack of patriotism and worthless thoughts such as believing that the grass is greener on the other side. Because we believe that money and material wealth is all there is to life, because we believe that speed is required in the quest for riches. I remember in the 1990s when new generation banks were springing up like the banking sector was the only sector to take Nigeria out of whatever state it was in, one of the banks had a slogan that said, “ the patient dog eats no bone”. It was a rat race for government deposits but today I’m not sure how many people remember that bank but I know it was one of the first to go under when policies and monetary regimes changed. Out of sheer disregard for rule of law, respect for ourselves, and deliberate cultivation of attitudes that negates all that presents us as a people deserving of respect we have all collectively brought upon us uncertainty and distrust of one another. A sorry state of affairs indeed.
Let our politicians, and our self-styled social analysts know that as gladiators in the political and social arena they must imbibe a culture of tolerance, exhibit maturity all through this times and beyond, Nigeria must survive now and beyond. Those social media enthusiasts who take pleasure in fuelling dissent and discordant tones need learn that they do not have another country to call their own. Refugee status and immigration status are no fun, ask those in such situations. Other countries can only take in so much of you. This is important because the conduct of the political gladiators resonate in the actions of their teaming followers who most of the time not quite conversant with social – political-economic factors that undermine their growth and development they take up arms against their fellow oppressed. While they are out in the streets causing mayhem, maiming and killing one another those they support have their families and loved ones ensconced in maximum comfort somewhere out of harm’s way. The common people don’t matter! Yes you do not matter! The followership have no idea of what the so-called dividend of democracy is all about, we are at the cross roads where what matters is me, me, and mine. We all must know that anger is just not it for us, anger fuelled by religious intolerance and ethnic egocentrism can only yield destruction.
Anger might be said to be fueled by the action, inaction, or utterance of some other person or party, but what does one have to say about advertorials placed by different persons, groups, associations, pseudo-associations and what have you not on behalf of candidates, parties, even say about social media warriors. It is disheartening that some personalities who have come into certain positions that call for high levels of responsibility lack the capacity to appreciate these positions and so cannot lift themselves out of the menial levels they have always been. We have sunk so low that we not only wish death on others but rather it is a tragedy of sorts that death can be a source of jest for some people who are so pedestrian and uncouth to the extent that believe they have a pact with the Almighty. Death is a necessary end for every living being so lets not even begin to see it as the portion of a particular region or people. One must die when his or her time is comes there is nothing, absolutely nothing anything anyone can do about that. For those of us who have absolute believe we are aware that death does not give one a choice of time or place, it simply happens when it deems it fit to, neither age or wealth, position nor power can alter that.
That said, its time the people of Nigeria start to align themselves with respectability and responsibility, we should all demand to take control of our collective destiny and demand our votes count, demand accountability from people we put in office. Our destiny is in our hands, we the people of Nigeria must decide now on what we want from governance, we hold the ace because the power lies with us and not with them. Let us all collectively say no to violence and vile rhetoric and demand to be treated right. We are the ones that have been wronged, we are the ones that have the absolute right to be angry and we are the only ones who have the right to ventilate this anger. But we are not going to resort to violence, seriously we must disallow ourselves the ‘pleasure’ of anger instead we should channel our energy to avenging our mistreatment and humiliation by defeating the forces of negativities at the ballot box. This is May 2021, year 2022 is pre –election year and all actions on governance are going to, like it or not literally grind to a halt or at best be kept on hold. This is the time to start, let’s prepare ourselves and fortifying ourselves against those who have made a career out of heating up the polity creating discord and chaos.