By Kassim Afegbua
It is utterly discomforting to witness a sharp decline in public morality in the way and manner we conduct the business of politics and power game in Nigeria. Public discourse, which should ordinarily sharpen our knowledge and intellectuality, is often grossly abused to fan the embers of disunity and instability.
Except for individuals whose psychological content is defective, I cannot imagine any sane human being beating the drums of war so loud, as if war does not come, heaven will fall.
Otherwise, how do we reconcile Asari Dokubo’s latest outburst of drumming for war particularly each time the capacity of the President is put to public scrutiny? Why does he think that nations cannot live without oil as a resource? Why does he also feel that President Jonathan must be supported from his ethnic binoculars or fond of smoking hot against anyone who feels a strong point against presidential faux pas?
Those who speak the language of war do not live to enjoy the spoils of war. In fact, they get consumed in the inferno of war, and often times ended up on the wrong side of history. In contemporary society like ours, particularly with the global attractions of intellectual discourse to proffering solutions to developmental challenges no matter the shape or form they take, speaking the language of gunboat diplomacy or war is as uncivilized and brutish as waving AK47 to show might.
Experiences in recent times especially from the Arab Spring have shown that those who live by the gun easily die by it. And with the humiliation that ended the reign of Libya’s Ghadafi, Hosni Mubarak and their torch bearer Sadam Hussein, those who are conversant with history will certainly not concede to the argument that war is a better option to settle inequalities, inequities and irregularities in a formless system like we have in Nigeria. When the Libya conflagration assumed the ethnic dimension, nationalistic patriotism overtook sectional interest, and the rest, as is often said, is now history. Where is Charles Taylor today?
Asari should apply caution.
The way Asari Dokubo spoke in his published interview on Tuesday, August 7, in Daily Trust newspaper about what will happen to the North in the event of war, one would think that Asari has the capacity to be in two places at the same time if confronted with war. How possible? War, for those who have experienced it as either victims or participants, is not a treasure to behold. And it is also not simple arithmetic.
Expressing a delight for the trigger does not make anyone an expert in warfare. In these modern times with sophisticated weaponry, war could be fought and won without foot soldiers or seeing gun-wielding young men.
It is not about how many AK 47 that is in the possession of anyone that will determine the strength and capacity in war times. War is an art and it needs serious study.
To even contemplate it under a democracy that preaches dialogue, constructive bargaining and collective engagement, is to exhibit crass inhumanity to mankind.
There is no harm in trying to drum up support for one of your own if the stream of political thoughts appears appropriate to do so.
But to insist in a forceful manner that you must ram Mr. President down the throat of every Nigerian and make them to accept him by all material means is to completely miss the point. President Goodluck Jonathan should be able to call Asari Dokubo to order, except he wants the public to believe that he represents one of his several foot soldiers who can easily be called upon to return fire for fire.
Asari Dokubo should also understand or be reminded that President Jonathan is not the President of the Ijaw ethnic configuration and that the votes of the Ijaw nation alone could not have made Dr. Goodluck Jonathan elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
So, if the larger voting population of Nigeria did elect him at the elections of 2011, it goes to suggest that at the time of the election, he was their preferred choice.
And to that extent also, the people deserve and reserve the right to question the performance of a President they so gladly elected. To question the right of the people to raise queries about the conduct of the President they elected is to abuse their privileges which democracy advocates treasure.
Democratic powers derive from the people. Needless to state here that at all times, the people who are the repository of power, deserve explanation on every action, step and inaction of government. Since public office is held in trust for the people, they are at liberty to demand insight into the thinking of government at all times on any decision of government.
This is because there is always a day of reckoning. Such explanation would also avail the people the opportunity to have deeper knowledge about the workings of government and its actions. It is against this backdrop that I find the position of Asari Dokubo very much at variance with the demands of participatory and inclusive democracy.
I do not know where President Jonathan would derive the morality to take campaigns for re-election to a people that have been so despised and insulted by his kinsman. With the simple majority mantra, your guess is as good as mine.
Developing capacity and Ideas
The 2012 Olympics is coasting home finally tomorrow with several nations and countries displaying their innate ability and skills at the event. Gold, silver and bronze have been won by countries that have developed enough capacity for the event.
That a country of 160 million people cannot boast of any medal to showcase our capacity and potentials amongst nations is to understand the reason why Asari spoke in his peculiar fashion. Take swimming, where are all the able bodied men and women from the creeks who sleep, think and drink creek, where are they?
Does it mean we cannot exploit the talents in those communities and showcase them to the world in a manner that would prove to all that we are truly the “giant” of Africa? Alas! rather than think swimming and other beach sports, Asari’s mind is thinking about war and warfare.
Does anyone need further explanation as to why we remain fixated? The folly of it all, at the fall of any of our representatives, we wait with bated breath, hoping that others would perform. Okagbare crashed out, the Basket Ball team crashed out, the short distance runners crashed out, the long distance runners crashed out, long jump; count them, they all crashed out. Yet,we celebrate our collective poverty of ideas and think war.
Those who are beating the drums of war, when they see one, they won’t recognize it.
This is the age of ideas, of reason and of democracy. Agreed that there might be some level of fluctuations here and there, we must continue to invest hope in Nigeria and expect a better tomorrow. Boko Haram cannot hold us down. They will fizzle out in no time. Speaking in very disparaging manner to undermine our collective interest and peaceful co-existence is not a civilized way to communicate and grow.
If we are all agreed that Nigeria will live for more than a thousand years, we should not attempt to bring down the roof if political power is not within our grip. We must continue to stress the urgent need for us to exploit the comparative advantage of our different geopolitical groupings in order to widen the space for the growing population. What is our plan for the aged? What plans do we have for the youth population?
How do we tackle unemployment and under-employment? How do we leverage on our huge population to make significant breakthroughs in science, economics and politics?
All these and several others should occupy our minds in a conscious attempt to re-direct our energies and create the right synergies for constructive engagement.
War-war no. Jaw-Jaw yes.
The beauty of a country with several nation states is to exploit the capacity to dialogue and brainstorm on issues before decisions are taken. In democracies, when a minority presides over the “tyranny” of the majority, it is often better to deploy the balancing act.
The way and manner that Asari Dokubo is speaking seems to me that he is unconsciously trading away the Jonathan presidency. I would rather have expected a situation where caution is deployed in talking back at people who enjoy larger voting population.
All that is required is a little bit of stock taking and resolution that yes, here we come, we are ready to speak with one voice as Northerners, where will the votes of a Jonathan second term come from? With a fractured South, who says the North cannot win back presidency and dominate it as much as they want. Will Asari Dokubo for example have the nerve to go for campaigns in the North and speak for a Jonathan second term? I doubt.
This is why I find it more rewarding for all of us to preach peace, speak the language of understanding and tolerance in our collective march to a greater tomorrow. War-war, is not an option at all. Jaw-jaw is a treasure that we must hold dear to our hearts. As civilized people, let us speak the language of unity.