“Gods don’t kill people. People with Gods kill people.” Sasa Milosevic
Nigeria’s history of ethnic bigotry and bias against each others’ religious, and ethnic and political affiliation has continued to cast a dangerous shadow over our nation. We are burdened with a legacy of violent opposition to people who are “othered” because of their ethnicity, origin, or religion. We have a history of hate that our elected leaders have frequently ignored on one hand and on the other explored, sometimes encouraged, and never adequately addressed.
By this admonition I am committed to confronting our nation’s history of violence, bigotry, tribalism, religious intolerance, and hatred of people who are perceived to be different. I challenge us as a nation, as a people to be bolder, more honest, and more dedicated to addressing injustice and bias. The need to work for a just society is as critical and urgent as ever.
While some fixated on the Afghan palaver, dotted around the President’s son’s wedding and many others watched Big Brother—two significant things happened. 22 persons were extra judicially killed, THERE is NO JUSTIFICATION whatsoever! In the same manner 3 students were killed by the others. And finally ‘Broda KEHINDE’ was killed. The irony is he was Muslim, his wife a Christian, one of his kids an officer and gentleman of the Nigerian Army.
I stand in solidarity with those who condemn the violence on display in Jos over the last week. I am committed to continuing the struggle to overcome our history of ethnic injustice, in search of true peace, the kind of peace that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described as not “merely the absence of tension” but “the presence of justice.”
Having said the above, allow me vexatiously speak truth to us, and to power. We are sick people. Very sick people, I am Prince Charles Dickson, son to an Igbo man, son to a Plateau woman, who is daughter to Tarok, Yoruba and Igbo lineages. My wife is Yoruba, grand daughter to Sarduana’s first and only printer, she’s third generation Kaduna born, sixth generation Muslim. My sons are Al-Amin and Amir, in case you doubt call them Tobi and Dubem and see if they don’t answer.
Writing or telling the Jos, Plateau story is a difficult one, emotions are high, sentiments cloudy, but irrespective of all these the salient truth remains. It is that truth, which we run from, that has continually hunted and will continue haunting us on the Plateau.
There is the theory that Jos is the heartland for an Islamization agenda by ‘them’. Well, it’s a theory of the naive versus the learned. In Jos, there is not only palpable tension beneath the surface; it is equally immersed in hatred, a drug problem, poverty and fight for scarce resources, a very dangerous pot on fire. Whichever way one viewed this land of the Generals, it is a complete study in failure of leadership, whether CAN, PFN, JNI, JIBWIS, Army, Police and all those vested with the power to do something. Jos is beautiful, it is our land, it always will be, but how beautiful are our hearts.
So as it was in the past, again it is with the Rukuba 22, the Miango 11, the Bassa 9…the University of Jos 3 and finally Broda Kehinde all killed; my kids, wife, or meself could be killed JUST like that!
We are killed by ours, either by error or on intent. Nigerians killed by Nigerians. Killed because of our faith, our ethnicity, killed because leadership is safe from harm’s way and ‘jetting’ the times of their lives on our collective cost. I may be accused of being naive, but the sad truth is that we may have got to that point of no return.
All these killings will sadly continue on intervals because, there is hate, it’s there, it will continue because no one is ever punished. It will continue because no one cares, life in many parts of Nigeria has no value.
The hatred is so intense; you can feel it in the air, Christians and churches targeted and so also ethnic groups, the UJ lad was killed in the fuel station’s Masjid, one lad was reportedly killed by “so-called” Muslims who only realized as he breathed his last and whispered, sha’ada that he was a Muslim, the 22 were killed on a road that has 58 churches. Everything is viewed North/South, Islam/Christianity, Us/Them. We have murdered sleep and yet we crave rest, forgetting that beneath these labels is just one word—Criminality
We are not ready to forgive, to restitute, and to reconcile; in the last few years we have activated a circle that runs round revenge, retaliation, and vengeance as a result of ethno-religious killings…natives and settlers maiming, gravitating towards at best a civil strife and at worse pockets of guerilla warfare.
It was Broda Kehinde, it was religious, it could be me or you tomorrow, it could be robbery, rape, stray bullet, simply economic deprivation and off course soon we all forget and move on, the families of the victims NEVER! Two short and simple sentences started this admonishment that contain a great deal of truth. Gods may become destructive weapons in human hands, trapping people in labyrinths of hatred, bloodshed and hopelessness for centuries. People tamed the most cruel beasts, but to date they have failed to tame their own passions to exterminate their “brothers and sisters” that pray, eat and dress in different ways.
A Tarokh adage translates, a child lacks wisdom, and some say that what is important is that the child does not die; what kills more surely than lack of wisdom? (A foolish child is not much better than a dead child)
We hate ourselves; rather than respect each other in a negative stance we tolerate each other like the proverbial soldier ant on the scrotum. Mutual suspicion reigns supreme, are we really a nation or a collection of people. What has the North in real terms benefited from Nigeria, what has Lagos, Umuahia or Warri benefitted? When the thieves that rule us steal our money there is no religion or ethnicity.
What kind of people are we. I am not perfect; May even be naive but I know when something is not right. For us as a nation these are strange times, a new Nigeria may emerge or we may be consumed.
Jos has had about seven commissions of enquiries on the last count. No, truth and reconciliation commission, like Nigeria, we just pass on every serious matter, we get to 11:59 and never hit 12:00. The important questions will never be answered; the issues of employment and education are not tackled, so we will always have idle hands, a devil and a workshop, and politicians, and a carefree elite, on a flight with no pilot.
May the souls of those killed rest in peace. May those who could have stopped this rot here on earth and hell, if there is one. Everyday provides us an opportunity to get it right, what we want as Nigerians–only time will tell.