By Talemoh Wycliffe Dah
The altercation by two distinguished Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the hallowed chamber of the National Assembly, expectedly, generated a lot of comments. Supporters took sides with interesting arguments and the media outlets are still relishing this ”juicy’’ development. Like a little fire from an inconsequential cigarette butt that is fanned by the wind to ravage a whole country, this personal fiasco is bludgeoning into a national issue. One reaction to the development, which is that of the APC Southwest, is particularly ominous.
The APC Southwest warned one of the feuding distinguished individuals not to ever come to the south west of the country from where the other senator hails. Any discerning mind can guess what the warning is likely to entail. It is not likely to mean that he will be sued, queried or reported to the police, for those can be done in the north central where the seat of government is. No, this near ‘persona non grata’ declaration or sentence on the distinguished Senator is likely to mean a call on Nigerians in that region to carry out what they cannot carry out ordinarily in another region. This will immediately mean something that is not constitutional or legal but doable only in that region by an aggrieved people whose revered daughter is insulted and, by extension, the whole region itself. It means possible harm!
But more than a call for harm is a hidden unfortunate undertone. It is a cardinal symptom of an underlying cancer, the existence of which the political elite has consciously decided to ignore. It is the proverbial elephant in the room. It is the feeling that I belong to my region and do not really share a sense of brotherliness with you from another region. It is an announcement that one should only feel safe, or feel at home for that matter, only in the region of his nativity. Get me right, this is not only peculiar to the people in the southwest. The APC in the south west only voiced it. We all know, the south west is more educated, cultured and civil. Another region might not have voiced it but carry it out once the Senator visits the region.
Should the persona non grata Senator’s ‘’people’’ also declare the other Senator persona non grata in the north central region? I bet you that might have already been declared in their minds. And we can only imagine what will happen, or what his ‘’people’’ will do, should harm from a natural or other source befall the Senator. But let’s return to the main issue.
That warning was voiced in a civil manner because that is the way of the south west, which, I repeat, appear to be more cultured and civil in their approach to issues. That warning and the cancer it is symptomatic of, believe me, is presently manifesting itself in all regions. It is manifesting as religious killings and Boko haram in the north east and north west. It is the call for Biafra and shouts of marginalization in the south east. It is the economic sabotage and calls for resource control in the south south. And so on.
A national manifestation, and the main concern of this writer, is the various calls for fiscal federalism, true federalism, restructuring, regional self-rule, etc, calls that are only steps short of disintegration, which is the real intent of the callers.
They sow a seed of dislike in young Nigerians by calling the country a project, an experiment, a contraption and all the like descriptions that betray the callers’ real intentions. As a project it should be time-bound, having a beginning and an end. As an experiment it was not meant to last. A contraption connotes not only strange bedfellows but something put together anyhow and which is unnecessarily complicated. They say we are many nations in one and even suggest a three-piece split. But certain things are common among these callers.
These callers not only feel Nigeria should disintegrate but believe it will soon be and so work towards it. And because of this believe they plunder the country dry. They insist power must come to them or remain with them till that time, since, they believe, power is the most effective weapon to use to get this wealth before the soon coming disintegration.
Have you not wondered why people struggle for power as if Nigeria will end tomorrow? If power remains for eight years in one region, it only means it is obvious it will spend eight years in the other region in a country that will last generations; but not so their belief.
Carefully look or study these callers. When they are in power and it suits them, they want the country to continue the way it is but as soon as they feel disadvantaged, they will put out their calls. Or, when they are not in power they call for it but as soon as they get power they become nationalists.
Knowing that this malady exists, it behoves the government and all well-meaning Nigerians to take concrete steps to deal with it. There should be a deliberate reorientation, and the National Orientation Agency should not only re-orient Nigerians to align to ruling party mantra but to feel they are one people in a country on the road to greatness, given her resources. The government should take these calls/symptoms seriously and adjust.
For example, if every single appointment is assessed on the basis of religion, tribe or region, only to change with the next appointment, maybe all appointments should be made at the same time, devoid of any scent or odour of nepotism. The president was a hero when he appointed the NNPC Group Managing Director but few days later he was a villain for appointing someone from his side of the divide. If we have been brought down to such primordial sentiments, the government should start correcting things from there, not just defending itself.
Some of the things that may make people genuinely disgruntled should be avoided, especially any shade of exclusion and marginalization. And young Nigerians should not allow their country to be destroyed by people who have benefited from it in the past, and, soon to expire, want it to go with them.
Dah, a resident of Abuja, sent this through firstname.lastname@example.org
Nigerians, watch that deadly sympton
By Talemoh Wycliffe Dah