By Sunny Ikhioya
THE problem of the world is injustice. No matter how hard justice is suppressed, it rears it’s head until it is appeased. It can take decades or even centuries, in the biblical account, it took the Israelites over four hundred years. Justice is when affairs of life are handled dispassionately; no favouritism, no sentiment of any kind – be it filial, ethnic or religion – in short, it is doing what is right. The late Alhaji Maitama Sule – God bless his soul – addressing a delegation to President Mohammadu Buhari not too long before his passage noted thus: only justice can resolve Nigeria’s problems. The man stated the obvious. I will advise that the President and his team go back and replay that video. We have not been fortunate to have a leader who will rule with justice – fairness to all – in this country and he told Buhari that if he wants to succeed, he must rule with justice to all. Has Mr President yielded to his advise, in the over two years that he has been in office? The answer is in the public domain.
The root cause of ethnic/regional/religious agitation and insurgency is injustice. You may be in power today and use your position to favour your people, without a thought for the others as our leaders have done over the period. You are only being a fool because it has been proven that the world goes round. Where are the children of past public office holders ? When a new set gets into office and discovers that injustice has been meted out against his people in the past, he will take steps to correct the situation. The struggle for justice did not start today in Nigeria. It began from the indigenes against the colonialists, to the majority against minority tribes, to the military against civilians and to the oppressed masses against the government.
Several attempts to suppress these agitation by force only yielded more violent reactions from emerging groups. People thought that with the killing of Adaka Isaac Boro, violent agitation will stop in the Niger Delta and then came Ken Saro Wiwa and now they have metamorphosed into various slinter groups. Have we learnt our lessons? It appears that we are threading the same path all over again, with Operation Python Dance 11 and other reactions from the government. Once people know their rights, there is no way they can be suppressed.
The indigenous groups in Nigeria have become conscious of the injustice the Nigerian state has been meting out to them and it will only take justice to appease them. The society that toes the path of justice enjoys peace and sustainable development. That is why Switzerland remains the way it is, whether in times of war and in times of peace. Less we forget, Switzerland is not a one language/ethnic nation. So, the oppression is through religion or ethnicity, it is only a postponement of the day of reckoning for the descendants of those in power today, that is, if they die before justice is served. It is a wicked world that we live in.
Now our oil firms have decided to end gas flaring. PM news of 12th September reports that “Oil Firms Pledges To End Practice In 2019”. The question is; what have they been waiting for all these years? Now that the world is moving from petrol/diesel mechanisation, they have decided to end gas flaring, something that we have been begging them to do for decades, that they will not dare to practice in their home countries. We have enabled them to indulge recklessly, with successive corrupt governments giving them a helping hand. Lives, properties and means of livelihood have been destroyed. Yet, enlightened and educated individuals now condemn ethnic agitations. Governor El-Rufai now prays that “gas should finish in Nigeria”, after oil and gas resources were to develop Abuja and other areas in the north, with him as a very key beneficiary; pumping oil money for rehabilitation programmes in the north, for a destruction which was caused by the northerners themselves. You now say gas supply should end in Nigeria, that is the selfishness of the Nigerian leader. They have been pumping money into agriculture – mainly in the north, without regards for the post oil survival of the oil producing communities. What does that do for justice?
That is why the call for restructuring is very urgent now. It must be done as soon as possible and must be done in such a way that will correct all past injustices; from government against the people, majorities against the minorities and the dominant religion against the others. Everyone must have the freedom to decide how he is to be governed and have a say on how the resources in his land are to allocated, the cultures of ethnic groups must be respected.
Justice requires that every single ethnic group in this country must be recognised and acknowledged, no matter their population or geographical space. That is the United Nations standard, that is why Cape Verde is a duly recognised country, with same vote as Nigeria, though they have a population of less than one million. Justice demand that we adopt the UN standard in our restructuring process, allow every ethnic group to decide where they want to belong. It is not a matter of Biafra or Oduduwa.
We must agree on the basis of our unity and if there is disagreement, the manner of settlement must be established. Nigeria consist of a group of multiple nationalities, they must decide how to bring their individual resources into the commonwealth and how it should be appropriated. Every part of Nigeria is viable, oil money only made people lazy and those in power used their positions to deprive legitimate groups of their deserved share. Justice demands that the continuous survival of Nigeria as a nation is negotiable and not be done by force. Those that have tried it in the past are learning otherwise – Ireland, Spain, USSR and others. If we want peace for the generations of Nigerians yet unborn, we must resolve the injustices of the past now and the way forward is to discuss and implement the solutions to our unity as a nation.