By Clifford Ndujihe
LAGOS—BURDENED Elders, a group of eminent Nigerians and elder statesmen led by Professor Anya O. Anya and Dr Christopher Kolade, yesterday, looked at the state of the nation, and the toxic tone of the 2019 electioneering campaigns and returned a grim verdict: The nation is bleeding profusely… and approaching a frontier it has never seen before.’’
The group, which has the likes of former Super permanent secretary, Chief Philip Asiodu; Mrs. Folake Solanke, Ambassador George Obiozor, Professor Akin Mabogunje, Pastor Shyngle Wigwe, Mr Olumide Onabolu (secretary) and Ladi Thompson as members, said as elders they could not sit back and watch things balloon out of control.
Addressing reporters in Lagos, Anya, Kolade, Asiodu and Wigwe, in a 717-word statement titled: The Burden of the Elders 2019, recalled the good and early days of Nigeria, and said the country could be rescued and made to work again according to the vision of the founding fathers.
The statement read: “The historic struggles and sacrifices of the colonial days may have receded in our national memory but the hopes and joys that attended our independence on October 1, 1960 will forever be cherished memories in the hearts of many that by God’s grace are alive till date.
“The road since then may have been rough but we have crawled, scratched and made progress inch by inch. Age and experience will confirm that honest, open and true stewardship is the best form of leadership for a people that have continually held on to hope in the face of great troubles.
“It is difficult for elders to stand by and watch as the nation is bleeding profusely and pretend that all is well as it should be.
The violent turn of expressions, deepened economic hardships and increasing desperation of the national polity have to be reversed to keep hope alive.
“No matter how dimmed the eyesight of the elders is, our ears can still hear the pitiful cry of our grand and great grandchildren braving the desert treks and other equally hazardous routes to escape the pain that Nigerian life has become. Neither are we ignorant of the surge in prostitution, suicides and resurgence of ritual murders in the land. When you add the nefarious activities of the Boko Haram and resort to widespread violence by herdsmen arising from the grazing crisis due to pressure of increasing population on land which several administrations have failed to deal with over the years, it becomes clear that our cherished nation is approaching a frontier it has never seen before.
Civil war trauma a warning flag
“This is certainly not business as usual and the trauma of the civil war we survived should be a warning flag across all spheres of leadership.
“As we soak in all the attendant factors including the toxic political culture of the present hour and the predatory tonality of the ongoing election processes, it has become imperative that we must speak up as elders. Our first counsel to the nation as it approaches this new frontier is that innovative strategies and ingenious initiatives that can build consensus and mould opinion to defuse the rancorous tension must be considered as a priority over and above all else with the elections inclusive.”
“Our final appeal to all good persons across all generations and divides of tribe, tongue or creed is to calm down and work for the future of our nation as we deploy everything that God has given us as elders towards a nation where no man is oppressed and peace and plenty will be the norm. Please let us march forward knowing that no matter how dark the night may become the breaking of the dawn is a promise of God that can never fail.”