BY JOSEPHINE IGBINOVIA
She still finds it hard to believe that the lives of innocent Youth Corps members could be terminated simply because of the outcome of a general election. Dr. Lady Gloria Chuma-Ibe, Director for Exhibitions & Museum at the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization- CBAAC in Lagos, strongly fears that this sudden loss of value for human life could degenerate into an uncontrollable national crisis if not addressed. Here, Lady Gloria who recently bagged a Cultural Ambassador award from the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners-NANTAP among six other distinguished Nigerians, decries such wanton killings which are supposed to be absent in an African society.
From the early days of my work at CBAAC since 1982, my spirit told me that if we at CBAAC cannot reach out to the man on the street with what we do, then we’re of no relevance to the society. If culture is actually to ensure that our positive values are handed over from generation to generation, what are we doing to ensure this is done since things are going wrong in the society? Like Martin Luther King told us, there are two bodies of knowledge in life; one is science and the other is culture. If culture does not chastise science which is technology, man will gradually go extinct. Culture here is your religion, acts, performances, and all other positive values embedded in the world of culture.
If we do not tailor science to suit the purposes of man, man will someday use nuclear bomb to render the world extinct. So, the essence of culture and our existence at CBAAC, is to control technology at the pace it is going.
If we don’t bring in humanity into technology, people will go extinct because one day, somebody will say “Let me test this bomb and see whether it will work” and before you know it, the entire world will be reduced to dust! God will not let that happen!
Culture is to give a conscience to science, reminding people to do unto others as they would want others do unto them. If those values that make us co-exist as human beings are allowed to die, some day, those in science will end up eliminating everybody! These values include value for human life, for humanity, etc. Science actually has no conscience, and would rather prefer computers and robots to human beings!
The truth is that we seem to have totally lost value for life. This amazes me so much! The line of thinking of our brothers and sisters in the Northern part of Nigeria is such that can really give one migraine! The Arabs in Libya and some other countries kind of operated a monarchical leadership, and have actually been enduring for hundreds of years, the notion of a man leading and handing over to his son.
We in a way agree that their protest today is right because every human being requires freedom since when you’re free, you can contribute to how you’re led. So, we can understand that they are fighting for democracy which is what is being advocated in the whole world today. Nobody wants monarchy anymore!
Even if the monarchs want to exist, let them exist on their own like we have in Britain; they have their monarchs but they are not interfering with leadership. So, that way, people can have their human rights.
In Northern Nigeria, every small incident in Nigeria sparks off the killing of human beings. This issue is still not being addressed because we seem not to have leaders who could call a spade by its name. What offence did those youth corps members killed recently in the north commit? They were put there just to ensure there is transparency. Don’t we have Muslims in the South? They’re not killing anybody for any reason. They are co-existing with Christians without any problem.
Even if the North says Nigeria should split, how is it going to favour them when they do not have what it takes to stay as a nation? The minerals and all the things they need to survive on are in the South. Yes, they’ve managed to produce food to an extent, and that’s good also. Nature has made everybody inter-dependent, and we should learn to respect that so that we can all live together as human beings! Why can’t we stop being tribalistic, and look for leaders who know what to offer?
Look at Fashola in Lagos State! Igbos, Hausas, Yorubas, and in fact everybody voted for him because we can see what he’s doing. Even the blind knows that Fashola is working. Look at all what he was able to offer within a period of four years only! All we should seek is for life to be conducive for us all.
Let there be security, education, basic needs of life, etc. We shouldn’t care who is there in as much as we have a president who is interested in what he has come to do, and not in amassing wealth. Who takes wealth to heaven or to the grave? If you’re alive and you cannot impact anybody’s life positively, what is the wealth to you? You will leave that money behind when you die, but the souls you’ve touched will forever remember you.
Let’s fight for the best person to rule. We need to stop this wasting of lives because of elections results, religion, etc. Why can’t those who lost at elections accept their defeat in good faith?
Our children who are posted to other parts of the country for youth service should be made to feel at home there. The one that made me weep was a group of Youth Corps members who ran into the custody of some policemen. The policemen shot in the air to scare away the rebels who were coming with their knives and machetes, but when they ran out of bullets, these rebels went in and eliminated all the Youth Corps members!
This is a place where we are supposed to have a governor! If the police could shoot in the air to avoid wasting human lives, why couldn’t these rebels act human for once and spare those Youth Corps members? We just can’t continue to massage people’s ego because they come from the North. Something has to be done! I call on President Goodluck Jonathan to show us that courage has a presence. If Nigeria continues this way, we’ll end up going our separate ways. We should stop talking about zoning because as a matter of fact, it irritates the mind and gets educated and intelligent people irritated. You can’t make a nincompoop the president of a nation, all in the name of zoning! Give us somebody who is qualified!
For me, I won’t say they should erase NYSC, but the truth is that we can’t be pretending all’s well with the posting when we know there’s so much hatred in some parts of the country.
My recommendation is that Youth Corps members should be posted to their own geopolitical zone. For example, those from Imo State should be sent to Anambra State, those from Bauchi should be sent to Zamfara.
We can’t keep allowing the elimination of children who are being groomed to take over the future. Until these fanatics are able to accept other religions and people into their midst, let us continue to send their own people to them. It’s however sad that the essence of Youth Corps is being defeated.