PRESENTLY, our country seems to be at crossroad. This is not the first time or the second and definitely may not be the last, because human lives just like every other thing is synonymous with change and challenges. They are inevitable and certain.
Before now, Nigerians have witnessed many leadership, socio-economic and security challenges, and had always overcome them, thereby keeping the country together for more than 100 years. The present security challenges confronting the country predate the present administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. It is also a common knowledge that terrorism is now a global challenge that must be dealt with headlong and collectively for it knows no boundary, religion or party affiliation.
The present terrorism challenge in Nigeria is not different from what has happened and still happening in different parts of the world. For the fact that Nigeria’s case is now restricted to some Northeastern states is a confirmation of the tremendous efforts of the security agents, the people and government of the country in combating the menace. One wonders what the situation would have been by now, if the insurgents have succeeded in taking over the whole country and plunge it into deep crisis. May be that would have been the end of the country called Nigeria, God forbid. Whether we like it or not, be it South, North, East or West, Christian or Muslim, Nigeria is our country and will remain ours. The task or burden of building the country, especially at this critical moment demands comprehensive involvement and collaboration between the leaders and the led.
We cannot run away from it or abdicate responsibilities because of the enormous challenges, unless we say we have collectively failed as a people. Solutions or panacea to the country’s problems must be eclectic, collective and committed. All hand must be on deck because the success or failure of the country has direct and great impact on all Nigerians both at home and in the Diaspora. Lest we forget, no place is like home and charity begins at home.
In trying to find solutions to our problems, we should be mindful and inspired by the likes of T. Joseph Benziger, the editor of the online Dynamic Youth Magazine who says that commitment never allows us to lose sight of our target. It is the battery that gives power to all types of activities. That is why it is considered most important for individuals and organisations as well. Without the help of committed employees no organisational goal can be attained.
“ Without displaying firm commitment no organisation can earn the goodwill of its customers. If the citizens are not fully committed to nation building, no country can progress and achieve peace and prosperity. This is because hurdles are those impediments which could be removed or overcome, if only we make determined efforts. We should identify the hurdles without wasting time. We should not allow them to discourage us. We should neither magnify nor minimise them.”
The above statement should be food-for-thought for all Nigerians at present. The ongoing blame game over insecurity and killings in the country between politicians and people from different ethnic and political divide at the moment is diversionary, divisive, ill-timed and unpatriotic. It is an ill-wind that blows no one any good. Countries like America, Britain and others have their own fair share of challenges before now, but they collectively and committedly dealt with them, despite their political-cum-socio-cultural differences. Till date they have not fully overcome all of them, but they have managed to live together peacefully as a people. President Goodluck Jonathan will not be the president of the country forever, and the country will outlive his administration.
But if Nigerians, irrespective of their tribe and religion, continue to be nonchalant about the challenges facing their country now, posterity and history will not judge them well as a people. This is not the time for anybody to sit on the fence, take sides or engage in pedestrian criticisms against any government or individual. It is a time of contribution and sacrifice for nation building. This is also the reason delegates at the ongoing National Conference must be mindful and conscious of what they say or do because Nigerians and the world are watching. If past National Conferences had failed for one reason or the other, the current mood of the country and the timing of the present Conference demand that it must not fail for any reason.
Delegates to the Conference were chosen based on their merit and the confidence the people had in them, so they should in return justify such confidence by coming out of the Conference with something very progressive, peaceful and developmental for the country. The delegates should realise that to whom much is given, much is expected, because Nigerians cannot afford to waste another huge taxpayers’ money for another jamboree.
They should know that Nigerians have expressed worry over unguarded and inflammatory utterances of some delegates at the Conference aimed at causing confusion or probably truncating the Conference. Some have even started fanning the embers of discord by calling for the balkanisation of the country into the North/South, but they fail to realise that no part of the world is insulated from crisis or terrorism. It is just a matter of time. Who told the people of Southern Sudan that they will not have peace today after more a decade of war to secure independence.
So to me, balkanising the country or not is not and may not be the ultimate solution to the country’s problems. Delegates at the Conference must eschew primordial sentiment, ethnic and religious bias and work towards a united country with purposeful leadership and followership that will outlive us all and lay a solid foundation for a new Nigeria of great hope and prosperity.
It would be recalled that 2005 National Conference was brought to abrupt end after the South-South delegates staged a walkout on June 14, 2005 over the contentious derivation principle and stayed away from further proceedings. The delegates from the oil-rich zone demanded an irreducible minimum of 50% derivation, but accepted in the interim 25% derivation with graduated increase to attain the 50% over a period of five years. But the northern delegates were opposed to it thereby splitting the conference into two opposing camps. Not even a meeting the then President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo held separately with the opposing groups could assuage their feelings. As a result of the demand, the conference ended without reaching a consensus on derivation funds, resource control and tenure of office for president and governors.
Already the trend is rearing its ugly head in the ongoing National Conference as different committees moved into discussions at committee stage. It is of utmost important for delegates to exercise caution and restraints, and be altruistic in handling all the issues slated for discussion at the committee stage. This is to avoid history repeating itself again, because it will be bad for the country if the present Conference ends like the previous ones. The unity, peace, and progress of the country supersede every other thing; Nigerians should abide by this belief and have faith and confidence in the country for a better and prosperous tomorrow. Just as former secretary general of United Nations Organisation (UNO) Mr. Kofi Anan said: “Whether our challenge is peacemaking, nation-building, democratisation or responding to natural or man-made disaster, we have seen that even the strongest amongst us cannot succeed alone.
Mr. Kenneth Imansuangbon, a lawyer wrote from Virginia, USA