By Bisi Lawrence
The greater Beiram Festival of the Muslims has ended in another glorious flourish leaving in its wake the echoes of pleas and prayers for peace all over the world. It has been thus for years past.
Humanity has lost its grip on peace for so long that the situation of confrontation, conflagration and contumely in any form of relationship now seems more associated with normal life than otherwise.
The break-up of marriages is no longer news. Weddings appear to be only the prelude to incidents of divorce.
Contributing to this sad state is that there is an environment which provides a soft landing in the accommodating atmosphere that readily absorbs the offensive and the unpleasant.
The agony of separation in a family is diffused by the similarity in several other cases that abound. Some notion of a modern trend is wantonly attached to it in some parts of the world, suggesting that a wholesome solidarity in any family is “old-fashioned”.
But as long as the human weaknesses of lasciviousness and uncontrolled passion persist, men and women will continue to be defeated by their own individual waywardness.
From poisoned personal relationship, it is only a short step to distrust in business relationship.
It is now almost the mark of big business to engage in protracted, expensive and upsetting wrangling between gigantic business houses, especially in the telecommunications industry.
It leads many a time to huge losses in profits that sometimes cause retrenchment of workers in a world crying out for employment even in the areas of skilled workers. But it is all in conformity with the spirit of the times which seems to abhor the ideal of accord in business relationships.
It stems from the motive for the pursuit of success in business, in the first place, and ties up neatly with the tragic circumstances of personal relationships. Businesses are not founded for the promotion of human upliftment generally any more, but for the elevation of the ego.
This is all enlarged in international relations.
There are wars, or rumours of war, all over the Middle East and in some parts of East and West Africa. Some of them are linked to religious expansionism which is the springboard of the Jihadist movement, as we are experiencing with the Boko Haram in Nigeria.
The genre of religious wars springs from a passionate religious fervour, the depths of which is impossible to sound. The advocates propound lofty theories for what is to others no less than plain madness. There is no meeting ground, no venue for conducting a discourse, except at the battlefront.
But there is also the war that is caused by the desire for territorial acquisition, usually because of mineral resources in the areas over which there is dispute. And the mineral resource usually in question, of course, is oil.
It is at the basis of the problems in Sudan and Southern Sudan, for instance. The loss of human lives remains the price of war. Winston Churchill is reputed to have declared that, “It is better to jaw-jaw than to war-war.”
And no one would probably know that better than the old war-monger himself. But diplomacy hardly has any place in the world today. Rather, the super-powers share a policy of contained conflict among the less powerful nations of the world, having pushed themselves to a point at which they frighten one another with the devastating prospect of nuclear warfare.
The tussle for political power, however, still continues unabated but is restricted within national borders among the people. Governments are being toppled violently, like in the so-called Arab Spring which swept away near-dynastic institutions around the Mediterranean.
Good governments ensure peace for the people, but the unrest caused by the violent attempts to establish them still pervades the entire region. The case of Syria is pathetic. A government is reduced there to turning its guns on its own people, who respond in good measure. Call it revolution, or call it rebellion. It remains a sad, revolting reflection of a world in distress.
Regrettably, we have had a bit of all that, in one measure or the other, here in Nigeria too. There is a kind of insurgency, if you please, that has not ceased from baffling us in the Boko Haram phenomenon. We have not really experienced such an event before now. It is so vicious and more pervasive than we know.
It defies conventional detective measures since it defeats the effectiveness of intelligence and leaves a paucity of useful clues. The people are almost in a frenzy to bring it to an end, but you cannot hurry a traveler in the dark. You can only grope until there is, at least, a glimmer of light, and that means patience. Many people think the patience of Nigerians has been blown up in suicide attacks months ago, but the insurgents are still talking peace, and we are yet listening.
We also need a lot of patience with one another as a people who define their form of government as democracy.
The routinely contumacious attitude of the National Assembly to the consideration of the national budget, which is a pillar of governance and a duty it has to perform responsibly, continues to delay the passing of the proposals, year in year out, and cannot be calculated to promote peace in the country.
Of course, one is not advocating a subservience of the legislature to the executive as it is well known that they are “separate but equal”. But the spirit of co-operation and respect which would create the synergy that would promote the smooth-running of governance and make for peace could be more prominently displayed.
More evident today is an embarrassing vista of acrimony which featured a view of proposed impeachment of the President. Peace flies out of the window when that chant begins to swell.
In the case of the Nigerian Civil War – which some people like to refer to as the Biafran war, and why not?— there is also a school of thought which prefers to associate it with oil. I think not, although the oil of the Delta might have crept in as a factor at some stage. But it seems to have begun as a kind of insurgency which got bloated out of hand, with the introduction of words like “pogrom” and “genocide” into the proceedings.
And although we have been through with the Civil War it would appear that the war is not yet through with us. It is a horror when people from different sectors have issues with one another, but it is hell when disagreements arise among elements of the same ethnic group who exist cheek by jaw with each other.
It would be almost impossible to distinguish a native of Akwa Ibom State from a citizen of Bayelsa State, if one was not from that part of the country. And yet, they are staging demonstrations, one against the other, over an issue that could be very well contained by a peaceful discussion in a mature way.
It serves no useful purpose whatsoever, to drag the President of the nation into the matter as we are witnessing. It is not just embarrassing, it is also disgraceful. The President has demonstrated that he knows how to be a Nigerian, even though Bayelsan .Yet he cannot totally divest himself of what he is.
All the same, he seems to have kept himself clean away from the wrangling in the two states in the area of his birth. It is uncharitable in every way to connect him with a demonstration at which his name or office was not mentioned. It is doing his natal linkage with his home state a disservice by his own people.
That is not the way of peace. What President Goodluck Jonathan has done in the developing feud about oil fields among Kogi, Enugu and Anambra States in similar circumstances, is what we should encourage him to do more of and not through street patades either. He invited stakeholders in the dispute to a meeting, where he indicated guidelines about how the issues should be resolved.
At the end of the confab, one of the participants, Anambra State Governor Peter Obi commented: “The outcome of the meeting is very amicable. The issues regarding where the oil wells are located will be settled amicably. We will work together as states of this federation. “ That is the way of peace.
“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou heareth the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, or where it goeth … “
I must resist the temptation to dilate on the context of those words of Jesus Christ from St. John’s Gospel. However, one can mention that it was in relation to the freedom granted to those who are born of the spirit.
These are special people like the wind itself which, according to the Psalmist, God “brings out of His treasuries.” With all the modern advancement in meteorology, no one can still fully determine the origin of a wind pattern, though we can now trace its course after it has been set – after God has brought it “out of his treasuries”.
As a former “weather man”, I used to be extremely fascinated whenever I noticed what appeared to be a storm formation through instruments for observing and recording the speed and direction of a local upper wind phenomenon, though the instruments available fifty years ago are now totally obsolete.
But even now, tsunamis still sneak in through all those modem instruments to devastate large areas of the earth. And then storms have been known, more often than not, to change directions and chose different routes to commit havoc. They even sometimes perform a volte-face to wreak untold devastation on lives and property over areas they had traversed earlier.
If the type of that “super storm” which ravaged parts of the Eastern coast of the US had visited us, which God forbid, we would have hardly been as prepared as the New Yorkers were.
But though they knew it was coming, they never knew such a “blower” before. Perhaps only Haiti has ever had a taste so bitter, and yet it hit them again this time.
As fellow human beings, we should commiserate with them and the others in Asia, Europe and around the world. They say it is all an aspect of “Climate Change”. Maybe, but I have definite ideas about that which we may share here later.
We have been warned to expect our own share, especially in Lagos. It is said that preparations are afoot, especially in the coastal areas. But one has not noticed any flurry of activities in that regard, and the wind is not limited to coastal areas in its effect when it is released by the Almighty from His treasuries. That is the way of the wind.