By Dele Animasaun

‘We have always known that heedless self interest was bad morals, we now know that it is bad economics’- Franklin Delano Roosevelt

New year, new beginnings. Here is wishing one and all an auspicious and hearty 2020. My prayers are for unity, tolerance, respect for humanity and fellow Nigerians, a sturdy backbone, a moral conscience, societal responsibility, a better and innovative environment, a safe thriving and forward-looking place for our young to grow and develop. Most of all, inclusion and distribution of wealth not for just the few but for the many.

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In the meantime, let us face the present and concerning facts -Nigeria is country of hustlers. At times, it resembles the wild, wild west. Everywhere you look it seems people are desperate to make a quick buck here and there. It was not always like this. We once had integrity, pride in hard work and we were compassionate and we had a conscience. We can again.

Now, the business of politics and the church has been the place to get the best hustle and get rich quick. It’s no surprise that those that have no business in politics or the church are falling over themselves to hustle.

For those who wondered how we descend so low, perhaps, they have been napping or had their head stuck deep in the sand. This rot started decades ago, then less attention was paid to the crooks because there were more decent people than bad people. Besides, those who erred were made examples of, and it was enough to serve as a deterrent to many. We had civil and moral order.

Three generations of Nigerians have not really experienced this golden age and they hear only of the age in stories but they can not relate, much the pity.

All they know now is corruption and 419s. Nigeria has unenviable recognition of top of the league for corruption, human trafficking, poverty and the highest rate of physical and sexual abuse of its vulnerable members of its population;women, girls and children. It is not something to be proud of.

Hope. Hope is one thing that Nigerians have in abundance and one that keeps Nigerians going, hope, that one day things will get better. I believe in hope. I also believe in action. Hope without action,commitment and goals hope is just wishful thinking.
The green shoots of a combination of hope, hard work, vision, commitment and determination in our young people is taking roots. Our young people are making things happen.

There so many young Nigerians driving their own narrative despite the obstacles and bad press Nigerians have, they have pushed through. Hope definitely, springs eternal. The new Nigerians are young, solution focused, educated, collective, erudite and uniquely Nigerians,these young Nigerians, they are change makers and they are paving the way for a better Nigeria. I am so looking forward to seeing more of them in 2020. This new cadre of Nigerians are selfless, they are inclusive,building from the ground up a new type of Nigerians who are lifting others by reaching out.

My archive-
We have no shame

”In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers . . . we are ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”— Alexander Solzhenitsyn

A nebulous group called The James Ibori Political Associates has announced the cancellation of the planned 54th birthday celebration for James Onanefe Ibori which was earlier scheduled for August 4.

It has not been the best of times for James Onanefe Ibori. So to have to be celebrated in absentia for his 54th birthday is in bad taste and rubbing salt in the wounds of hardworking and honest Nigerians.

These associates of his took pages of advertisements to lament his lack of freedom and they have blamed it on the wicked that have done their worst. They have blamed it all on the wicked step mother.

Correct me, if am wrong, but did James Ibori steal the people’s money or not? Was the court impartial? Why did Odidigboigbo run away to Dubai and avoided London? Now we are learning that it was because James spear-headed the resource control struggle but was he the only one in the struggle?

Oh yes, he is the modern Robin Hood then, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor? This man has been convicted of grand fraud and he is serving time in our majesty’s Prisons. And he is being feted as a leader, surely yes, Ali Baba and the forty thieves more like!

Yes, we should be reminded, even by an egg-head of James’ “achievements in life which speaks volumes. That even while away that James bestride the political firmament with that aura that stands out

They said that “James’ tribulation (that) had their origins in the struggle for resource control” hence ;“that has not dampened” their love for him. Are they talking about the very same James Ibori?

Did we not all observe that since his incarceration, “no other criminal case in Nigeria has been appealed to a British court” (meaning what?) that they (who are they?) discriminated against James. Ibori’s defence in the face of allegations had always been that he had a successful business career and had made money independent of government, yes, pull the other one. Only in Nigeria!

There is no fire like passion, there is no shark like hatred, there is no snare like folly, there is no torrent like greed. – Siddhartha Gautama

I grew up in a household surrounded by many faiths. We, as children did not discriminate who was who on the basis of faith, we like you then you are a friend, it was as simple as that. In fact, as children we all knew that Eid, Christmas, Easter and Eid meant more to go round. Our parents did not enforce any rules and there were no discrimations or prejudice as such.

There was the freedom of worship and so it should be. We are a secular country the last time I checked. What they have done is to make the divide or our difference more glaring and created a level of paranoia and mistrust amongst people that have lived together, gone to school together and shared their lives together. If we start becoming territorial in a place where we call home, Nigeria, then we seriously have a problem.

It is bad enough that living diaspora, we can ill afford the separation as Nigerians living so far away from home.
No matter how long, home is always Nigeria. I am often reminded that I am an outsider, I am. But being out of Nigeria does not make me less a Nigerian. No matter what people’s perceptions are of the likes of myself; diasporan: they may try but fail to remind me that I truly do not belong, it no longer registers, we all invest our sense of belonging one way or another as Nigerians. I do not justify my Nigerianess to anyone. The mischief makers on this side of the pond also try ; so where you are from or what ethnicity are you, where are you originally from, or how long you have lived in the country( seriously, I was born here)

So you already know you are an outsider, as far as you are concerned you know there is somewhere, someplace that we call home had been divided up along the lines of faith and ruled by terror on the basis of your religion. It is a tragic recklessness and a slap in the face of every well-meaning and sane Nigerian. The Nigerians I meet here are my fellow Nigerians; we share a country and have more in common than what separate us regardless of their state or their religion if we could get along abroad why can’t we get along in Nigeria?

So in a place where I cannot call home, I get treated with some respect and I can attend and go out without fear or intimidation to a place of worship of my faith. Over here mosques, churches, temples are built barely a stone throw from one another. Over here in schools, children are taught religious education, given an education where they learn about other religions, history and facts, this does help foster tolerance as well as educate the young people on other religion other than the one they ascribe to.

Now that is what I call tolerance but in all I do believe that there has to be more emphasis in educating our young in Nigeria. Not only that education will also ensure that they are out of the clutches of those that want to brain wash them into terror.

The poverty and disparity is disgraceful so the resentments is palpable and we cannot afford to breed young ,impressionable, poor, uneducated, unemployed and unemployable minds with no prospect for the future. What we are doing is inadvertently moulding them for an alternative occupation such as terror, kidnapping and major crimes.

Tolerance, can only exist if we address the level of poverty, unemployment, corruption, inequality of opportunities and standard of living. We have got to reduce the senseless hatred that divides our people and our leaders should be leading the way. It heartens me when I read that the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar and Osun State governor Rauf Aregbesola have addressed Muslims at a public event to openly beseech Muslims to unite, stay tolerant and be at peace with all fellow Nigerians regardless of their faith. The Sultan was resolute in his address that Islam will, and always will remain a religion of peace. He said: “Those who claim to be doing what they are doing in terms of terrorism in the name of Islam are on their own. They are not doing anything for Islam or Muslims but for themselves. Nothing more, nothing less!

And that is why when I hear people refer to these terrorists as Islamic terrorists, I always feel bad. I have said it so many times that Islam does not approve terrorism or the taking of anybody’s life.” and Aregbesola said “a Muslim, who promotes chaos and disharmony has deviated from the teachings of Islam and a good Muslim is required to exemplify the best in conduct through accommodation, tolerance and forbearance for him to be called a good Muslim”.

CAN the mischief
The transparent discourteous open letter to the Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, in which the Christian group accused the Sultan of being economical with the truth and that he was silent over the decimation of Christian communities in the North by Islamic fundamentalists.

This is so disingenuous and uncharitable. The writers did not hide their hatred as the content of the diatribe moved from thinly veiled courtesy to utter disprect and deep seated hatred . We have been here before and it is so apparent that someone is stoking the fire of hatred, divide and conquer. It is not going to work, we can see through your message.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) need not have responded. But they did.
According to them, they laid the finger of blame at the door of the president of CAN, Dr. Samson Ayokunle, who blamed the Sultan for not waiting for the next NIREC meeting before disagreeing with him in public.

This was not true according to the director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, and accused Ayokunle of lying, deception and incitement; “MURIC takes serious objection to the response of CAN to the Sultan. Imagine CAN president, Dr. Samson Ayokunle, arguing that the Sultan should have waited for the next meeting of NIREC to fault his (Ayokunle’s) claim instead of debunking it publicly. How reasonable is that?

“How can the Sultan wait for a private forum to fault a lie that was told in public? Are the discussions in NIREC in the public domain? How can you remove a woman’s clothes in the market place and expect her friends to wait until she arrives home naked before they cover her up? Isn’t that warped logic?

“The Sultan is a notable bridge-builder primus inter pareil and a peace-maker nulli seconds. If some religious leaders specialize in creating tension, the Sultan’s vocation is dousing tension. If some leaders are adept at inciting their followers, the Sultan is always there to calm nerves”

This 2020, we should not be careless with dog whistle and sabre rattling we have a nation to build, feed and unite.
“The whole purpose of religion is to facilitate love and compassion, patience, tolerance, humility, and forgiveness.” — Dalai Lama XIV”

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