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Peace In Our Time

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By Denrele Animasaun

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

In case you blinked, the 21st of September was International Day of Peace. The United Nations declared this day as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. So this year’s theme is: Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for all”

There is a line in a popular song that goes like this; what the world needs now is peace, not just for one, but everyone. Right now there is just too little of peace in our neck of the woods and Nigeria needs peace more than ever .Peace, unity, tolerance and togetherness.

If the global initiative is to promote respect, safety and dignity for every displaced person, then that would be a decent thing to do. Call me a sceptic but world peace declaration is all well and good but it should be backed up with cast iron commitment and real time limited action.

As it is, it is merely sound bite, a mere tick box exercise and it does not change the lives of the disposes and the marginalised. If the Nigerian Government truly subscribes and believes in the peace day, then they need to do more for our displaced citizens that are languishing, starving and lay forgotten across our borders, and they should expedite their resettlement and enable them to rebuild their lives in their own land. Now, that would be something.

Real peace will come to our people, if we treat one another with compassion and practice tolerance. It sounds simple and obvious doesn’t it, so why haven’t we? The question that I want to know is: why is Nigeria not full of peaceful people? We profess that we are religious and God fearing, so why can’t we get along with one another?

Perhaps, it is because far too many Nigerians are empire building rather than   nation building. We have got to start at home and build outwards.

“Peace is not a relationship of nations. It is a condition of mind brought about by a serenity of soul. Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind. Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people.”— Jawaharlal Nehru

The very fibre of the Nigerian psyche lacks peaceful co-existence.  Harsh but true and it is sad. We have existed in chaos for far too long and it has not served the nation well. Having said that, it is evident that there are Nigerians who have worked very hard to pull the nation off the brink of disaster and on the path of some kind of peace.

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said: “In times of insecurity, communities that look different become convenient scapegoats. We must resist cynical efforts to divide communities and portray neighbours as ‘the other’. Discrimination diminishes us all. It prevents people — and societies — from achieving their full potential.” He added, “Together, let us stand up against bigotry and for human rights. Together, let us build bridges. Together, let us transform fear into hope.”   No right thinking person would wish for unrest and war, it is important to choose peace every time not just oneself but for coming generations. Anything other than that is an expensive price to pay.

No more freeloading.

The word in the social media is that PMB had fewer convoy this year to the UN conference than previous Nigerian administrations. It was a surprise to many that he cut the fat and streamlined the pretentious delegate surplus of the past, which come on such conferences to shop and make cash deposits. Not this time. PMB is not playing that game, he came with a purpose and he led by example. In keeping with buzzword UN, which was about restructuring the organisation in order for it to remain relevant in the coming decades.

PMB gave a robust speech and one that the rest of the world better sit up and take notice:

“As a leader of one of the leading African nations, I want to see a United Nation’s Security Council that is expanded to have one or two African permanent members with veto powers. It is a fair thing to do – one that will benefit the world by giving it a chance for a more balanced outlook to matters of importance to us all. As we have learned in Nigeria, sometimes you need to change in order to remain the same. It is the first principle of renewal”

He reminds those listening that:” emerging generation is creating new challenges for the African order left behind by the colonial powers. My generation is managing that challenge with the hope of leaving behind nation states that are less prone to crisis. We cannot continue to pretend that conflicts that emerged as a result of our colonial heritage have been resolved.

Across our continent, they are still there. In some cases, bad governance is exacerbating these conflict points”.  The speech was full of content and it pulls no punches by informing the rest of the world that Africa is open for business and it is the new frontier of opportunity and partnerships, this is not the Africa of yore but one of equal partnership and one that is not afraid to show the ups and down of the continent, but proud to stand up, not with a begging bowl but as an equal on the world stage.

This was a well detailed report card:” In Nigeria, we have degraded the capability of the Boko Haram terrorist group. We have also secured the release of some of our abducted Chibok Girls. We are working hard to secure the release of the rest and to finish the job of closing the Boko Haram chapter and get the North East of Nigeria back to a peaceful region that it used to be”. While others make mischief, PMB and his administration are working on rebuilding the nation and I know it is hard for some to digest but that is their problem.

Gift from Jordan

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan donated military hardware and pledged to further supply helicopters to Nigeria in its fight against insurgents. The donation of 200 Armoured Fighting Vehicles, PMB said “reflects true concern for Nigeria’s security situation and genuine goodwill towards a friendly nation.” This year’s UN conference is indicative of how Nigeria is perceived on the world stage. It is a good start and hopeful that there are better things to come.

Can Kanu Please Stand Up!

After the roundup of IPOB operatives, the self-styled IPOB leader is nowhere to be found. He has not been seen since the military intervention at his home in Umuahia. Kanu, had said so many things and it would be interesting to know why he had gone to ground. Suddenly the drums of war have been silenced.  Reality bites and I wish some of his followers understand that, now that the dust has settled: each man for himself.

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