Our hopes, prayers for Nigeria

Our hopes, prayers for Nigeria
August 14 14:13 2017

By Muhammad Ajah

Last weekend as I lied on my bed in the night with my heart aglow and my windows ajar so that I can hear the sound of the showers from the sky, I pondered over the country I belong to and dearly wish well. Just like one other night when the sky was blowy and the structures around made all kinds of noise. Just like another night when the moon was gloomy and the barks of the dogs in neighbouring homes turned cacophonic.

Further a bit, just like another night when the sky was as bright as the day that I could not resist the beauty to sit out and steadily watch the nature’s beauties. These are the times for reflections. These are times that nature peeps into and reexamines occurrences of hours before and arranges events for the next. And they were times I enjoyed praying for my motherland and her leadership. These are times to watch history, not from the screen of the television, but from the cerebral-box of one’s earthly composition. These are also times that I censored myself to improve or to let go.

At such times in those nights, I got joy from things, I wept in admiration of many things and I was shocked by many other things about Nigeria. I also wept silently for many things that should naturally be good but turned upside down in my country. I thought about politics, about religion, about culture, about development and about Nigerians themselves. I was definitely confused by some thoughts. I groped, sometimes in the darkness, trying to grasp what of memories that could console me. I flipped the pages of history and recounted our gains and losses, most times not by our own making but by nature on one hand and the evils that man creates on the other hand.

I saw Nigerians full of hope and love for their country, some devoting precious times seeking divine intervention to rescue their motherland and some fighting aimlessly to undo the nation. I saw our leaders from one page to the other; from Tafa Balewa, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obefemi Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello down to Muhammadu Buhari. A history of woes and sober reflections for the country! A history that has never recorded a 365 crisis free nation; crisis in policy making, in human (mis)management, in national building, in education, in production of primary human requirements, in proper utilization of God-given endowments prevalent in all parts of Nigeria and in security and safety of the people, particularly the common citizens.

How Nigeria has been ruled by the military, the prisoners and the sick is a playbook. The military is understandable for what they are. And the non-kaki leaders have been either prisoners or sick – terribly sick. Clearly, some are people who have been to prison before becoming national leaders. May God save Nigeria from repeating such experiences even as Nnamdi Kalu is strongly pushing that one day he becomes a national leader. We are all casualties to this experience. On the other hand, the leaders are also sick. Mental sickness, methinks, is worse than physical sickness. Nearly all our leaders, with respect to just few, have proved beyond doubt of intoxicated and complicated mental disorder and of kleptomaniac sophism.

All the past leaders tried their best, assuredly. Come to the present leader Nigeria has. What wrong has Buhari done that he is targeted for elimination? Why should Buhari not be allowed to do the unusual things that will develop Nigeria? A man who has proved honesty in the service of his fatherland; a man whose disposition towards governance is that of selflessness and resilience; a man whose intention for Nigeria is unstained and uncompromising and a man whose primary aim and objective in venturing into the murky political waves of Nigeria is to right the wrong, at least to the best of human ability. Why, for God’s sake, will the few powerful Nigerians not allow him to rewrite our history and set this nation on the path of truth, progress and unity? Why have Nigerians seemingly accepted that Nigeria cannot grow like those nations that started the race to development behind Nigeria?

Regional quagmires here and there! Boko Haram, thought to be dead, resurfaces like a cat with nine lives. Nnamdi Kalu and the agitation for secession have put the nation in suspension, despite the bail conditions attached to his release. The Northern youth threat to the Igbo in the north thickens as the deadline draws nearer and peace parleys make no headway. The Yoruba, the middle belt, the Niger Delta people, every ethno-religious group in Nigeria is carving a niche for itself, seeking equity and national recognition. And overwhelmingly, hate speeches are like mere conversations going on freely on the streets across Nigeria.

That is why there is the need for Nigerians to produce accountable and God-fearing leaders for Nigeria, not occultic and devilishly corrupt ones. Although this has been a song sung by every average Nigerian, a song that has merely been in the air across Nigeria, a song that has been performed by super artists with beautiful intonations but it is never enforced on Nigerians by the privileged Nigerians. Many patriots have had their swansongs forgotten overnight. When the country gained its independence from UK, Nigeria was praised. “Nigeria, we hail thee”, was written by Lillian Jean Williams and Nigerians sang the hymn till 1978 without, methinks, understanding or implementing its laudable request. Look at the two last lines of the second stanza and the four lines of the last stanza: “To hand on to our children; A banner without stain; O Lord of all creation; Grant this our one request; Help us to build a nation; Where no man is oppressed.” Nay, they asked God what they had power to achieve by allowed human wickedness to kill.

After then, Nigerians began to sing another beautiful song full of wisdom and inspiration which should have been a source of power, national integration and success. Pa Benedict Odiase composed this inspirational song: Arise, O Compatriot with the lyrics and music from John A. Ilechukwu, Dr. Sota Omoigui, Eme Etim Akpan, B. A. Ogunnaike and P. O. Aderibigbe. Again, methinks, Nigerians sing the body of this song without its soul. But alas! How possible can it be that Nigerians do not allow questionable characters to rule Nigeria again?

And finally a heave of relief and hope came to me recently. I had hoped and prayed for that to be sooner before this nation collapses by the hard work of rented non-patriotic elements. Yes, a relief came. I read on the pages of some national dailies of the strong stand by the department of state services (DSS) after their two day seminar on national unity and stability with the theme: unity in diversity: security and national development. Few positions in the resolutions caught my admiration.

Timely as no time is more demanding than now, there is the urgent need for Nigeria to muster the political will to manage threats to national unity, cohesion and integration; the need for good governance and visionary leadership in order to reduce citizen frustration, create sense of belonging and improve patriotism and contentment and the need for government at all levels to engage with all agitators in their areas by providing the platform for mutual interactions and understanding and build broad consensus and agreements for resolving challenges.

It has to be impressed in the minds of the citizenry that the freedom to express grievances and agitate for diverse causes cannot be absolute and should, therefore, not be allowed to degenerate into widespread of hate speeches and intimidation that breed insecurity in the nation. The ideology of unity in diversity is surely based on the broad consensus of Nigerians for nation building and progress, hence Nigeria should be stronger as a united nation with her greater potentials and possibilities. Furthermore, the current threats to national unity and stability have been diagnosed and ascertained as partly founded on false perceptions and narratives of marginalization, while such claims and calls for restructuring are being driven by selfish parochial interests, posturing for cheap popularity, outcomes of poor governance, the scramble for favourable political ambiances and overwhelming unpatriotic agenda.

The apt reviewal of moral character, ethics, attitudes and democratic tenets in the Nigerian political class, elite and wider society and the need for the country to institutionalize them can be nothing less than cogent proposals. There is the unanimity that the current security challenges in the country require comprehensive overhauling of national security architecture to include security sector reform, coordination, communication and a centralized databank.

From another dimension and to streamline equity and fairness, there should be strict adherence to merit, competence and integrity in personnel appointment into leadership positions at all levels of governance and rewarding production and focus on revenue generation rather than sharing. Involvement of states and local governments in resource mobilization as well as proper utilization of allocated resources are also the bane of security stability and national integration.

Therefore, it behooves on all security agencies not to compromise their national duties on ethnic, religious or political lines. Instead, they must discharge their obligations to the nation strictly in accordance with the provision of the constitution which is primarily assurance of the safety of lives and properties of the citizenry. The citizens must, on their own part, be responsive, proactive and cooperative with national security apparatuses and also fearlessly hold the elite to account.

This is a topical issue that should be discussed at the highest levels of all security agencies of Nigeria immediately and without delay. The way the rented elements are threatening the unity, peace and progress of Nigeria and freely going about their heinous activities is becoming alarming and must be stopped. We cannot ignore the fact that the younger Nigerians are watching. It is dangerous to allow them believe that freedom is total and that lawlessness has no limit in Nigeria. Whatever must be done to carry all parts of Nigeria along in governance in a well-designed template that must ensure equity, fairness and transparency for all is the panacea, a very urgent one that must be pursued and implemented. The dominance of nepotism and sectionalism in governance has caused Nigeria more losses and harm.

All these are my heart worries and I have always hoped that the time was ripe for Nigerians to think differently from the usual way. We have to pray collectively but we have to act decisively. I feel that the time has come for Mallam Aminu Kano’s wise words to manifest. Nigeria has tested so many therapeutic indices prepared and forced on her by the same circle of Nigerians. But if the Mallam’s dearest wish for Nigeria is yet to happen, let the present direction to which the nation has been positioned be followed for some years before any fair judgment can be widely acceptable.

Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of humanity, peace and good governance in Abuja. E-mail mobahawwah@yahoo.co.uk.