Who will rebuild the fractured nation, Nigeria?

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I see more bloodshed and I see the nation heading for anarchy and more discord. This raises my fear that the election of 2019 may divide the nation further

Newton Jibunoh

During the last nine months, I have written a number of essays on a weekly basis for The Sun newspaper concerning the numerous crises that have dented and fractured our nation, Nigeria. For three weeks in July, I wrote about Nigeria, describing it as a fractured nation, and, like I have done in my previous writings, I touched on the root of some of the crises and proffered solutions. My critics have been wonderful and positive, one of them asked if I knew then that there was going to be a political drama that was to be played out for the whole world to see. I wouldn’t say I knew for a fact but the plot had always been there waiting to be acted out and my writings were pretty clear about how to avoid a tragic ending. Sadly, the actors and directors of the play did not read my previous weeks’ essays or they would have acted and directed the play differently.

When I was very young, I benefited immensely from what was known in Africa, especially in Nigeria, as “The words of the elders.” I found my confidence in the company of men and women 20 or 30 years older than myself, who were well travelled and better educated. I learnt a lot from them and because of their wisdom, which came with age, now in my 80s, I owe it to the younger generation to share my knowledge or “words of wisdom from an elder,” with the hope of passing on the same torch. For that reason, I accepted the invitation to write this weekly column as part of giving back. It has been a rewarding experience and I hope to continue to write as long as I can use my hands and head and as long as the publishers will continue to find space for me.I wrote in a previous article that our nation is faced with monumental and grave challenges that have been with us for decades. And unless the leaders and those that are led can demonstrate some love for the nation, Nigeria will continue in crisis. I went further to state that the crisis brings with it disjointed development, massive corruption, civil war everywhere/ anywhere, deficiency in educational and health development, infrastructural decay and everybody to himself or herself.I once said that Nigeria was like a ship that has been steered for so long by captains who either are grossly inept at steering or were selfishly setting a course that benefited only self and were headed for chaos. Although it seems easier to abandon ship, I believe that, instead, it is high time we reclaimed the country from those who seek to do it harm.

Nigeria must recover from the decay of many decades and be rebuilt by the young who have been well tutored by sheer experience not to repeat the mistake of the past leaders. It is very important to examine and reexamine the origin and the extent of the fracture that Nigeria is facing. It is also very important that we find young men and women that can begin the process of mending the fracture that will take years to heal; far longer than the 2019 election. A friend of mine and a writer of note, J.K. Randle, in one of his publications, referred to the problem of Nigeria as a “serious head injury”.

For me, a serious head injury is more severe than a fracture because a fracture can be mended with time but a serious head injury could lead to brain damage, which could further leave Nigeria in a coma for a long time, if not forever. Also worrying is the fact that a serious head injury can boost other mental problems.

The mending of the fracture or the treatment of the head injury cannot come out of the 2019 elections, from what I have seen playing out and all the preparation towards the start of the electioneering. I see more bloodshed and I see the nation heading for anarchy and more discord. This raises my fear that the campaign and election of 2019 may divide the nation further – not unlike what the 2016 US elections did and is doing to the nation but with more violence and bloodshed for us. It has also become clear to many following the recent political party ping-pong taking place that Nigeria has been practicing a one-party system called “Do-or-Die” or “Winner takes all.” A party system that is simply all about sharing, moving from loser to winner and the power of control masked under different umbrellas but the same at its core. A system where everybody and everything becomes available for sale and waiting for the highest bidder.

For those that are ready to die in their quest to take it all, I can only fear and wonder the number of us that they will take with them. The young must not go with them, instead, they must start now to mobilise but give themselves five to 10 years of proper restructuring and cleansing of the system. I hope to see that day when the political students of today will climb the mountaintop and show the nation that we can take everybody, every Nigerian, to that mountaintop without violence, bloodshed, corruption and without compromising on the way to the mountaintop.

“There will be a country” was the title of one of the articles I wrote some time ago in this column. Permit me to quote from it as I leave us with these words to ponder: “Our post-colonial disposition is that of a people who have lost the habit of running themselves. We had a system of government pre-colonial. It worked for us because it was our system. This is why we have difficulties running the new system that was forced upon us at the dawn of independence by the colonial masters.

“It has taken us to a point where most of us do not know the true meaning of our National Anthem. For instance, how do you interpret this excerpt from the National Anthem to the ordinary Nigerian: ‘To serve our fatherland, With Love and strength and faith’? Or ‘The labour of our heroes past, shall never be in vain’? These are words that are meant to foster unity in people; sadly, over 90 percent of our population knows nothing about our heroes past. Almost the same number knows nothing about the history of our green/white/ green flag and how it is important that we show respect to the flag wherever it is hoisted. Instead, we often see the Nigerian flag in tatters wherever they fly.

“Part of the reason for this blatant disregard of a very important symbol of nationality is the elimination of History from the curriculum in our schools. The Nigerian stories have to be told to the younger generation so they can have an idea where we got it wrong and we can give them a chance to not repeat the same mistake again. There are a lot of stories pre-independence and post-independence that can shed light on the Nigerian state; The First Republic, The Military Era, the incessant coups and how we became a democratic nation. These stories should not be swept under the rug never to be heard of again, for the sake of history not repeating itself. The educational value of all these to the younger generation must not be underestimated.”

 

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