Nation-building is a shared responsibility – Aliu
Asipita Muluku Aliu is the author of ‘100 years later: Building a new republic’ and founder and president of The PAN-NIGERIA MOVEMENT (PNM). In this interview with EDET RUTH and UMAHU EUNICE, he reels out the challenges we are facing as a nation which pose so many unanswered national questions. Hence, he goes ahead to proffer solutions through his recent and debut publication: of ‘100 years later: Building a new republic.’
What inspired you to write this book?
Well first all, I will say that my number one is God and then the Nigeria story. When I say Nigeria story I mean going around Nigeria or looking at lives of people around, the challenges of an average Nigerians, you would see the challenges of the youth, you would see the challenges of the elderly and also the challenges of the minors and also the challenges we have as individuals. So for me I put up this book as a new beginning that would give us an insight into what is possible. The future that is possible so as to give us an understanding of the history we have and also an insight of the last hundred years. What were those things we should have done that we didn’t do? What were those things that we didn’t do right? Is it possible for us to have done the other way? Are there lessons for us to learn from the past? – The stretch of hundred years if we could recall. Are we satisfied with where we are?
Definitely, the answer is no, and then we ask: How do we get to where we want to be in the future as we begin to think from the lessons we have learnt from the last hundred years? But I believe somewhere along the line, the Nigeria we wish to see, a Nigeria that is not just for the elite, not just for those in the upper class would be actualized. Nigeria that works for everybody across the Border, be you a lower class, a higher class, and irrespective of where you are from, also irrespective your social status where people can pursue their dreams and actualize their vision.
How do you think that could be achieved?
It can be achieved but it won’t come easily. It will be achieved as the people begin to understand that we have a responsibility for the Nigeria project. If we begin to understand that the Nigeria project is not just the responsibility of the leaders. It can be achieved when the followers begin to understand that we are responsible to pursing our leaders to establish adequate institution, infrastructure that will push us in the right directions. However, a symbiotic relationship between the leaders and the followers must be established. Then we will have to do it as individuals in our individual capacity, where we find ourselves in a National Assignment or we handle our families or communities truth and honesty must always be left to override.
We have a responsibility individually to question the local government chairman, ward counselor, the representatives that represent us about the resources within our reach, how is it being handled? This is the way to go and until we begin to know how to know this in our individual offices, within our various communities, we can’t get the Nigeria we wish to have.
There is this general saying that people always blame the leadership in this case you are trying to say that it’s a shared responsibility?
Obviously it is a shared responsibility. To an extent the leadership is supposed to be much more fore-sighted than the followership. So if you are looking at the social advancement of the society, the major responsibility lies on the leadership. But now in a place where most often, like it seen today, our leaders are drifting between realizing that they have responsibility and what not. You will discover that the actual people that face the reality of the Nigerian life and harsh experiences are the masses. So it has now become their responsibility to begin to stand their ground and to begin to arm themselves with adequate and relevant information. Why? It is to be able to push the leaders and also the system, and also to be able to demand a change and to be able to exercise their franchise basically and to be able to understand why the leaders are trying to confuse us politically, economically, socially with some of the sentiment that has held us back politically, and religiously, ethnicity and the likes.
By doing this you now discover that people can now begin to vote leaders who have failed them out of the offices and also to put people who have the sense of responsibility not just because somebody is talking about the new lexis, ‘stomach infrastructure’ where you distribute some little incentives. Before you know it, people will realize that the leaders they have been electing have been doing well.
How could building a new republic be done?
There are so many things we have to get right if you look, we are making progress you see that there are innovation from the youth and the old ones are given ways to the younger. In areas where you think in the economic sector, the political sector it talks about in the legal frame works of the constitution the debate is still on, if you look at the national conference that was held it was a good platform to discuss the future of Nigeria, some political parties decided to opt out, now if you start from there that it the constitutional angle, now if president Good luck Jonathan has the political to listen to Nigerians, what they have to say through that national conference to be able to begin the process o f constitutionally reengineering. We still have to build a sense of belonging now that’s in the political frame. Now economically, what are we really doing? Now when you travel across Nigeria you will discover that some of us, I mean the elite are becoming richer while those who sustain this country are becoming poorer by the day. You discover that we are making more money yet we claim that we are making jobs but people are out of jobs. People have no social security, people are not able to put food on the table of their family, they are not able to send their kids to school properly and you see these things are part of the
Some people say the best solution to Nigeria’s problem is to divide the country. How do you react to that?
Anytime I hear this question I laugh. I laugh because I have not heard the history of any country or a nation that separated in dialogue. Virtually, nations come into existence through some sort of imposition. Irrespective of where the various people are coming from. We have a couple of countries that have gone ahead to separate themselves but they hardly get peace. They are still having the same issues and problems they were having before separation. If you say let’s break up Nigeria, will you say let’s break up Nigeria would you say lets break up the Ibiras from the Igalas? In essence, we are better together as a nation and our diversity is our strength.