“I see two valleys in which the same language is spoken and where the people are the same.The day will come when a wall will be built and the two valleys will be united.”-Swiss naturalist Horace-Benedict dearie Saussure (1749-1799).
The call for restructuring, true federalism, resources control and or devolution of Powers in the nation presupposes that the old wounds that coloured our emotions and that gave vent to the events that characterized the 1965-1970era is fresh and
far from been healed.
This makes the nation’s political, economic and social experiences at its present precarious circumstances, a dangerous influence, and risky choices come to mind; which makes an otherwise and ordinarily simple matters of state policy seemingly so complicated and intense.
It is this that has now crystallise and now somewhat portends a grave danger to the nation’s corporate existence. In the season of Change, the nation would have thought, that the politicians were on the cusp of solving major problems,but the events that follows are anything but nice.
The truth be told, that any attempt to further suspend the downward facing nation by a stalk would be anything but progress and justice.Nigerians require greater motivations beyond the sphere of rhetoric and politicking, and can no longer accept the Burkean idea of change and preservations as a credo of political life.
The nation is expected to be
inspired by the highest of motives, and by such higher ideals as patriotism. Which call for the awakening of moral imperative on all of us to stand up and address all atoms of repressive injustices, with a certain degree of eagerness, but not desperation. A people without decision of character belong to whatever can make them captive.
While all this thoughts were going on in my mind,I,joined a group of writers on an excursion to Umuahia-Ubeku,the birthplace of general Aguiyi-Ironsi of blessed memory at Agege railway station. The
Kano-bound passenger train was full to the hilt and with an assortment of Igbos, Hausas and Yorubas- a border-less trip you’ll wont
to call it.
What an exciting but a long trip! The journey after we changed train at Kaduna was quite smooth, even though uneventful. Our
preference to travel by train
rather than driving was borne out of altruism motives and the need to cut cost, as a train journey was adjudged cheaper.
This journey brought back the flood of nostalgia. Memories of yesteryears kept flowing back torrentially. I, amongst the deluge of all the cascading flow,remembered a trip this way from Lagos by same means in June 1970,in company of my now late dad and my immediate
The sumptuous meal we had in his cousin’s place at Kafanchan,the thrill of the
‘C-curve’ at Langalanga. The stench in the air, the extensive peculiar odour of decayed remains and cadavers quite strong, presents of a senseless
tragedy of a fratricidal conflict of rights from circumference to center.
I saw all kinds of dead bodies; young,old,males
and females. Some bent and blown out of shape, some knifed,some of hunger and starvation, some hacked,not to mention the grotesque gunshots and bombs victims,smelt absolutely revolting.Gutted now as I felt then,some fifty years back, at the morbid present forced on an otherwise peace loving people.
Even now I shuddered as my system ran the whole gamut of human emotions from joy to despair. In retrospect,it is easy to see
why the pages of history are filled with accounts of needles of hatred and bloodshed because of misguided cause or perverted individuals.
Yet,from the ruins of tragedy often arise extraordinary acts of human kindness and self sacrifice; because, this are the human disposition that could have repaired if not prevent the copious destruction and tragedy I saw fifty years ago. It, require efforts though,which often is like swimming upstream against the current.
In all of this, can’t we do needful.
Aren’t we all endowed with a conscience! The inborn sense of right and wrong which influences us to act within the bounds of human decency.
In the rocking sensation of the side to side gyration of the train movement,the roseate hues of dawn as calm as the summer sea. The constant, dull sounds of buzzing crickets and the sight of massive vine- coloured trees-fill one with awe and anticipation of what the IPOB,MASSOB,orchestrated calls for self-determination and or self-independence for the Eastern axis of the federation are all about.
In other saner climes there is no qualms neither are there gauntlets raised at such vanity and call for how a people chose to live. One gets the feeling that this dim environment calls for alert senses, frenzies of excitement like this quite exciting. One is not sure how our people interbreed and adapt to their environment, while one may view the adaptations as a form of evolution.
Woke up with a start,the howling of the wind,in a continuous cacophony in the air, as the train negotiated a bend and straight into a tunnel and brief darkness, as it inches steadily into the heartland of eastern Nigeria. The retail traders Hausas and
Igbos at the railway stations mingling freely and haggling with the usual humble bubble at the now slow moving train.
The landscape as wide as hope, overhead is the snow like sky that has at its centre a yellow ball,as yellow as jaundice, shining bright and gay over this land of the yellow sun. My eyes slowly get used to the flickering light streaming through the dense canopy of leaves and branches all swaying to the wild air and the rhythmic melodies produced by the clangour of hammers.
I felt pangs of hunger and I daintily excused myself.
On my way to the train’s restaurant, I became aware and impressed with the hospitality on offer;and came to the conclusion that Man is indeed unique, and with an unparalleled emotions one for the other, tenderness, protectiveness, tolerance, selfishness that are the hallmarks of human love in its truest and deepest sense, but must not ignore the inbuilt, innate capacity to act according to one’s free will rather than being controlled by instincts. The reason why we needed to see and feel the man Kanu.
The train sluggishly snaked into Umuahia-Ubeku.
The four of us crowded into the Honda sedan-Cross tour, as we made our way toward Oraifite, another date on our
diaries. The howling of the wind rustle the leaves.
The Sun’s rays passing through the drops of water in the air are doubly refracted and the human eye sees the reflection in the form of a
brilliant arch of prismatic colours, that dyed the silky clouds in all the colours of the rainbow. It is well seen now that the rain is falling in all its glory while the sun is shining.
Oraifite-a sleepy enclave, the mission here is to try and see in Nnamdi kanu’s looks, gaze and countenances, what he thinks and see.I like to see how emotions play on his heart of heart. What he feels and how strongly about the IPOB cause. How he thinks the nation can resolve this moral problems, by the use of clever but false reasoning and precedents.
As the four of us crowded into our waiting Honda-Crosstour,I immediately regretted my choice of car,because of the not too good terrain and especially, with the rain pouring cats and dogs.
We traveled all night to arrive our destination at dawn,journeying through some roads that you can only find in Akute area of Ogun state, that seems to be permanently under construction in the rain.
Tried as much as we did,we were unable to meet with him, but the conditions of living and the deplorable
conditions all over the place is the same as in the
North,South,East or West. Were we to have seen him, I would have told him to,
a.aim for peace in the long term.
In considering the’X-factor,
he should as well take cognisance of the fact that
from the Land of Leal,where we all originally hail from,
we are wired from the very beginning created equal
and in tandem with what the Austrian botanist Gregor Mendel described in his “principles of genetics”–
as being like a dictionary filled with words,made up of the letters of an alphabet; based on these instructions; the embryo parts-such as the brain, heart,lungs and limbs-develop in precise sequence and with perfect timing.
This is why we could speak as a member of the same body with different orientations. So, even from nature’s point of view agitation and claims and counter-claims for rights, equity,justice and equality is allowed.
It is amazing though, that science, law and rational thinking cannot answer the deepest questions of humanity, and the nation’s quest for true unity. As soon as you ask why is there something instead of nothing, you have gone beyond science and law. But then, we must not be clouded by emotionalism arising from perceived injury and injustices, as it will amount to contradiction in terms.
Now from the preambles to the specifics. Our nation with its recession and depression all over the place, is fast painting the picture of a man given a Dyke riddled with holes and he has found that plugging just one or two of them has seldom been enough. As a result, the nation has generally become weak as a mishmash,as this paragraph’s metaphors.
The mere sound of the word self a determination or self
independence,restructuring or true fiscal federalism and lately economic restructuring which some of the nation’s political activists with some form of convictions see as antidote and or way-out of the nation’s problems evokes the wailing of the flute inseparably connected with tragedy, wafting in the air, that one could feel moss sprouting out of one’s ears at the mere recall and recur of any semblance of the events of 1966-1970 and everything must be done to prevent a recurrence of the situation.
The world is too advanced into the age of reason-time and moments when thinking men tried to free mankind from the fanaticisms that has enslaved the Nigerian people for years.
Truth be told,wrong is wrong. The thing call a nation is really a collection of people who have been sharing similar experiences for a long time. If these experiences vary, as it seems to be the case with Nigeria, then,the nation should not expect the people to respond in much
the same way as an aircraft would to deft manoeuvering: swiftly and unquestionably.
The search for a national identity
will be a long one, but then,circumstances could hardly be less propitious at this time for some frank talk, and calls for a referendum where a vote on the vexed and important issues of how we want to live and coexist together should be taken. And if resources control and or devolution of powers from the center thereby making the center weak come on the cards, so be it.
But wait a minute, the nation can confront these and many more of its ills,and without twisting logic. It is so bad,the threats and counter-threats,the quits notices and the despair that has taken over the inner linings of the nation’s oneness and camaraderie.
However, one’s fear here’s, and that is just making an educated guess,that the restructuring or whatever may not take the shape the people desire, because, the political elites North and South and their acolytes will not allow any break up because they are united in preserving their advantages over the masses, irrespective of tribe, religion or creed. In that case the nation can only restructure only as far as to accommodate new power brokers and interests and perhaps redistribution of political offices.
But without standing logic on its head,there is nothing wrong in adopting the kibbutz-farm in Israel, in
which people live together and share work, profits, decision etc.since the nation has been off the beam from the moral standpoint, and subjugation and inequality that have come to soil a once warm,hospitable and gregarious relationship of a people, male and female, north and south of the federation, resorting to the shouts of “to your tents”.
We must ask ourselves why such vivacious understanding and relationships have been reduced atrociously outrageous that demeaning utterances and threats have taken centre stage and central place. This mirrors a disconnect between humanity and way of life in the pursuit of the truth; the truth in the dastard consequences of inequality, of marginalisation of ethnic chauvinists,nepotism and tribal jingoists that has been with us for a long time and that has eaten deeply into the very fabrics of our collective existence.
It goes without saying that the truth of our circumstances as we appeared to have been juggling since 1914, can change based on circumstances, new data and levels of experience. But ultimate truth isn’t relative in the quest for nationhood. It can’t be rationalised or customised to fit our moods and preferences,hence, the calls for a reappraisal, so to speak.
In the talks that are bound to follow,
i.)the status of our hearts is so important.
ii.)the need to apply the correct test under the rule is relevant
iii.)the need to stop the hitherto pie-in-the-sky philosophy.
The pursuit of the truth in the nation’s situations and the search for solutions to its myriads of myriads of dilemma, arguably, is made more herculean by the media moguls;a small but very powerful number of corporations own primary media outlets-deceptive as the mirage of the desert.
These outlets exert a strong influence on which stories and features gets heard or gets covered and how they are covered and how prominently they are covered. Because most of them are designed for profits, decisions made by them can be motivated by economic interests and some of them see nor hear no evil or wrong about our
conditions and circumstances.
We are living in a crazy, strange and mysterious world and times, one in which the media is stylishly deforming our people. The media is cruel and as dreadful as a gathering storm. Take for an instance, at the time the GEJ “CONFAB” was instituted, the media outlets that tagged it,”the conference of Jonathan’s friends”,which helped in no small measure in turning the CONFAB into anything but useful. Isn’t it strange that some of the outlets are clamouring for the reports to be unearthed.
When you,(as noted by Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged 1957), see that in order to produce,you need the permission from men who produce nothing-when you see that money is flowing to those who deal,not in goods,but in favours-when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws do not protect you against them,but protect them against you-when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self a sacrifices you may know the society is doomed.
While it is imperative, a moral and strategic imperative, absolutely imperative that the nation make a quick decision. For whatever it is worth, and in a country that has neither here nor there its greatest
strength. Therefore, the nation and its leadership must strive to leave behind the silhouettes of whatever that have bedeviled its paths to progress and greatness.
The leaders must adopt the image of true nationalists and engineer the spirit of true Nigerians without shifting into crisis mode,that may at the end of the day leave callouses on our minds, heads and hearts. The nation does not need much to move through life but we do need what matters.
To IPOB, MASSOB or any group for that matter,there is the need to be honest,even as we recognise our limitations. Complaining is like vomiting afterwards you feel better, but people around you feel sick!
We must in demanding for equity, not go through life as a stranger to ourselves;but honestly assess our strength and limitations,ask the relevant but hard questions and be willing and ready to live with the answers,even if it means letting some things go.
In penning this, some things struck me. Someone said,and I paraphrase here,
that,there are about 2million Hausa/Fulani in the South east, 90℅of whom are menial workers with no real investment, the Yorubas in the south east are about 1.5million,working with UAC,oil and IT companies
also with zero investment, but their life. While one could claim there are no empirical and verifiable
evidences to back the claims, the import of the
notation should not be lost on us,that the Igbos,for analysis sake,have over 20million of its sons and daughters,comfortably settled in the south west and the north, common sense thus requires that if there is anyone fighting today for the nation’s indivisibility and oneness and a need for some imperceptible shift of opinion, it should be the south east.
There is nothing wrong in calls for a true fiscal and political federalism in a Nigeria that seems barren and hostile and cold;but we can not be speaking from both sides of the mouth. The battles are fought in the mind and with sober reflection and the benefit of hindsight,discern the several missed opportunities in the protracted process of nation-building since the 1960 independence and raised them to the level of ideology.
The National Assembly,majority of who major in minors,as it were,
should note that this is a new era,a new dawn, and moments of change, change in all its
ramifications. They should
also accept the fact that there performances collectively has been quite
shoddy and at best pedestrian,and pretending as if all is well,to say the least.
The assembly should by
now know that jumping around and splashing in the water doesn’t mean you’re swimming. In other words,there can be a difference between just being active and really accomplishing something worth while. The nation can hardly withstand a political landscape marred by violence due to its acts of negligence and or omissions.
The challenge for the NASS in all the strident calls for restructuring of the polity,is,to itself, as the true Representatives of the people to begin to consider the nexus of the arguments
of the proponents and show through legislation but without attempting any casuistry or resolving of moral problems, especially, by the use of clever but false reasoning, even as it shows:
I.)willingness on the part of
the federating forces to federate,which is their true function and identity.
ii.)strive to meeting the basic needs of the people, food, clothing and shelter.
iii.)ensure that the rich economic potential and vast wealth of our dear fatherland is exploited for the general interest of Nigerians.
Realistically, the world around the National Assembly as they know it,is unlikely to slow down, in that case, it would be easier if it has a good and clear grasp of values and goals, and for the goals to harmonies with the values and enablement to carry out the activities that contribute to achieving those goals, the nation’s life will take a unified direction.
The suffering, injustices, crimes and moral breakdown in and around the nation, of course,are undeniable evidence that the miserable failure of the nation all stemmed from the unmitigated failure of leadership and a followers hip set free to fend for itself-A sour grape in a world of mirth and mischief, and like King Solomon recorded in one of his songs: “Take us the foxes,the little foxes,that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes”.
The NASS must see to it that the hopes of all Nigerians betrayed should be replaced by regulations through legislation. Time it is to tell our ignorant, hungry as a grave and helpless as a babe, who are unaware of the true route to prosperity and happiness that, who instead are told
that Nigeria is unjust, unfair and full of disadvantages.
What has happened is that generations of people have bought into this nonsense and as a result have remained hopelessly mired in poverty and despair; in a land where the tide of the future flows from beneath the seas.
The basics are wrong, and the nation has conditioned its people to derive their self-esteem, self-worth and self-respect from their perception of how much the government cares about them. And its same old conventional wisdom about solving poverty with more and more in the yearly budget hasn’t work. What is so threatening about teaching young poor Nigerians that the way out is by investing in themselves.
That their strength is determined by the innermost fibre of who they are.
That the way you help the poor improve their lot in life is to empower them to do it themselves. But government is not doing enough to help people access the opportunities this country has to offer. The USA is the greatest nation in the history of the world; not because American leaders are inherently superior but because its government was founded on principles which seek to allow maximum individual achievement.
By and large, the nation must begin to deal with substantive matters that haven’t yet be resolved from the standpoint of probity, morality and common
sense,before they can foster and further erode our relationship from within.
Either cold,logical, warm or intuitive-often a fiery argument is really about something other than the event that ignite it. The winding braggadocio in the attempt to right the wrong certainly won’t do. Name-calling or quit notices should be a ready substitute for meaningful debate of the issues involved. While name-calling may have a chilling effect on the genuine discussion of
issues, it does nothing to satisfy the yearnings of marginalised Nigerians. Voila!
The harsh draw-line between north and south must be removed by social re-engineering and true integration. The North or South should no longer be the basis for the clamour for self-independence,self-determination, restructuring or true fiscal federalism, but a new national consensus beyond political gain of north or south in a multicultural, multiethnic and multicultural and multi religious monolithic Nigeria.
The presidency must brace up,since it is often very difficult, if not outrightly impossible-to know when, how,and to what extent kingdoms and cities will rise or fall,least of all,a nation that exerted influence over Africa and beyond. This been the case,there is every need to focus on the objective rather than the result.
There is the need to take the sail away from the ethnic overlords threatening its peace and well-being as mathematicians trained to calculate the probabilities of events, and even those originating by an unguarded process.
The vice president, I mean, the acting president, in spite of the obvious pretentiousness around him, has sworn to protect the sanctity of the constitution.
But necessity has no law,hence, the acting president, while one is not overly impressed by his work, necessity has laid upon him to put his shoulders to the wheel against the Triton. It is easy to identify the real pantomime villains of the plot in the attempt to put the nation in a quandary.
The nation must be on the qui vive and act against the efforts to propagate the perpetual stay in the quagmire and prolonged stay in misery. In modern politics, spoiling for a war to establish a kingdom is like loving glass without ‘G’,takes away ‘L’,and that is he.
Any fight that is worth fighting today will be those that:
i.)recognises the nation’s
sovereign status and its indissolubility.
ii.)that Democracy will forever remain the solution to all the problems the nation.
iii.)do not disenfranchise the people.
iv.)fight for electoral freedom and ensuring the electorate is given fully the rights to elect by the ballot papers who should rule in a Nigeria where elections shall be reflective of the real choice of the Nigerian people,as the cause of democracy is well and best served with the realisation by the voters that their votes really count.
v.)reducing all corrupting influences in society.
vi.)guarantee worker’s rights to full and gainful employment.
vii.)a free and unfettered judiciary. A corrupt judiciary is certainly the graveyard of efforts to cement democratic norms and values.
viii.)a free press that guarantees freedom of opinion and freedom to publish facts and figures on situations in a way that makes the people to be fully informed of matters and events.
To all our compatriots North, East,West or South of the Niger, note that ships don’t sink because of water around them but they sink because of the water that gets in them. So,don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down.
Lasting happiness under the best conditions in wonderful surroundings.
Jimi Bickersteth is a writer and a blogger.
He can be reached on Twitter