“The negligence of a few could easily send a ship to the bottom, but if it has the wholehearted co-operation of all on board it can be safely brought to port”.Sardar Patel, Indian Freedom Fighter.
In the last one month Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, like Prophet Ezekiel, the central protagonist of the Book Ezekiel, whose prophecy was about hope for the future, has been preoccupied with calling urgent attention to the imminent catastrophe staring Nigeria as a nation, and Nigerians as a people in the face. And like the Indian freedom fighter, Sardar Patel, urging cooperation of all on board the Nigerian ship, to get the country working.
At every given opportunity, and using every available medium, with the zeal of a missionary, El-Rufai has been proclaiming his message of national unity, from mountaintops to all Nigerians, most especially the political class, and all men of goodwill, that have curiously continued to play the ostrich, pretending not to notice the threat posed by the extremists, rabidly hate -driven groups seeking the breakup of the country, in the misguided, deranged believe that they would be better off as Biafrans, Oduduwaians or Arewa Republic, rather than as Nigerians, is real.
The problem with the average Nigerian is the gross misconception that the other Nigerian from a different ethnic group, is the main problem,the reason why Nigeria hasn’t made substantial progress, in spite of its human and huge natural resources.
t’s a mutual feeling by virtually everyone that most of the states, like the central government are badly run, the point of departure is the responsibility for the appalling state of a country with huge potentials, but that has scandalously continued to be an embarrassment to itself and the black race. It’s this gross misconception that makes the man from Bayelsa, a state of less than 2 million people, with just eight local government areas, who has never bothered to question why his oil producing state, which in addition to its monthly revenue, gets 13% derivation, is inexplicably indebted to its public servants, financial institutions and remarkably undeveloped, making nonsense of the argument that the creation of states,would help fast track development.
There is no doubt that Nigerians on a daily basis, steadfastly take themselves for granted, in addition to very terrible low opinions of each other. Nigerians judge each other by stereotypes, a source of the constant tense relationship, which have most unfortunately become normal. Nigeria, has constantly been at the brink of disintegration, saved several times from tipping over by miracle.
It has undoubtedly benefited from several second chances,that he takes miracles for granted. But the ethnic agitations that has of late reared its ugly head, looks like the country might finally be running out of luck, unless reason prevails and the issues addressed in an honest manner. There is no denying the reality that like the Old Testament Israelites, that Nigerians keep bringing disaster upon themselves.
The delusion that some sections of the country are angels, and the others, are the cog in the wheel of progress, must be vehemently disabused,as the reality doesn’t tally with that narration. While, for instance, the Igala man, the undisputed war lord of Kogi state, sees nothing wrong in lording over the other ethnic minorities that make up the state, but the absence of shame, and a sense of justice, he unashamedly complains to the high heavens, when marginalised by the big three(3) at the national level. Same for the average Tiv man, who sees his Idoma neighbours as irritants, that can be done away with in their fiefdom. In fact in 1992, the Tiv members of the Benue State House of Assembly, actually excised the Idoma from the state.
Against such a background, the fate of the Idomas in the Middle Belt Republic being championed by those without any sense of justice,is better imagined.
Unfortunately, these rabid hate groups whose actions have generated unimaginable tension are being enthusiastically cheered on by some so called leaders in positions of authority, who clearly have abdicated their responsibility, either because they tacitly share the hate ideology or are too afraid to speak out against the activities of the extremists, due to fear of retribution or maybe because they hope to politically profit as “champions of their people”, like Trump who became president partly on the strength of his opposition to immigration and his ill defined America First policy. It must be vehemently stated that the MOSOP, AREWA and ODUDUWA groups, and the “other leave our land” protagonists, are not in any way different from far-right groups like the Alternative für Deutschland in Germany and Lega Nord in Italy, that are well known for pushing anti-immigration rhetorics.
Nigerians must listen to Nasir El-Rufai’s strident warnings of the dire consequences, the break up position of the extremists groups metastasizing across the country. The federal government mustn’t for political expediency capitulate to these extremists that clearly pose a serious internal security threat,an affront to the constitution and continued unity of the country by negotiating with them. As in physics,where every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so must there be for the extremists.
There is absolutely no doubt that Nigeria has found itself in its present precarious situation, due to actions by the people, and largely because of the failure of the Nigerian state, according to El-Rufai, “to jealously and consistently protect its prerogatives as the ultimate guarantor of security, the protector of rights and promoter of the rule of law”. His opposition to any form of negotiations, which has been eloquently reinforced by General Abubakar Abdusalm, the former head of state, is the right strategic choice before Nigeria.
Nigeria must present a united front to defeat these extremists, while swiftly implementing some low hanging fruits- state police that Nigerians have been clamoring, vesting of all minerals in the states and the decentralization of the judiciary – to help urgently pull back the country from the brink.
El-Rufai’s credentials as a patriot, a nationalist are impeccable. As a patriot El-Rufai has called attention to the tragic consequences staring the country in the face, which thankfully have elicited positive reactions. As governor, El-Rufai has walked his talk, attracting the very best hands from Adamawa, Bauchi, Delta, Kogi, Kwara, Anambra and Ogun states, to work with him in changing the face of Kaduna state, so when he speaks on the unity of Nigeria, Nigerians must listen. Nigeria needs practical lessons from El-Rufai, who has equally settled the very divisive settlers and none indigenes dichotomy, the main reason why the Kaduna Restoration Group(KRG), that is unfortunately opposed to the presence of “foreigners” in Kaduna state government agencies continues to wage a relentless war against him. While Nigerians are quick to celebrate the appointments of their compatriots in Britain or the United States, the irony is that such people won’t be welcomed in spite of their competence in many states, with the exception of Kaduna state, even if they were born there.
Nigerians should listen to the El-Rufai message and do the needful. The time for equivocation is past,now is time for action, for civility and taking responsibility. The extremists must be told in clear terms, that enough is enough, and that diversity is not about how much we differ, but about embracing each others uniqueness. There is absolutely no doubt that unity comes with a huge price, a bitter pill which can be swallowed when governments at all levels, are manifestly just, when merit is entrenched, when there is equal opportunity and justice.
The era of undermining National unity,with impunity is past. Nigerians must come to terms with the reality of its ethnic pluralities and understand in the words of Soren Kierkegaard, that “once we label each other, we negate one another”.
Ado writes from KadunaNo tags for this post.