“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided” – J.K. Rowling
“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have” – Anonymous
“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth” – The Baha’i Writings
wo days after Christmas, I was wandering around my neighbourhood when I suddenly found myself in a modern palatial house full of angry Igbo youths. The building was massive and built in an expansive compound. They were everywhere, angry and agitated, shouting : Where is Buhari? Where is Buhari? Where is Buhari? Later, I realised that I was not the only one in their custody, threatening us with all sorts of weapons and behold, the expression on their faces was like if they saw Buhari, they would feast on him alive.
I was frightened and afraid for my life. All my efforts to plead for my release proved abortive. I didn’t know when I started telling them that Mr President does not speak Yoruba and that my president is taller and light skinned. I even pulled up my T-Shirt to show them my “Ogbologbo” chocolate complexion.
They refused to let me go until their leaders intervened and pleaded with them on my behalf. After several hours, they released two men who were more then happy to leave the place. While their leaders were still pleading on my behalf, I was eyeing them from my little corner, silently reciting Ayah tal Qurisiyu and Psalm 23 at every turn.
Then the good news came, one of them briskly walked up to me and said “Well, we are going to release you now but when you get out there, tell Buhari that all we want is justice, Nigeria cannot achieve its desired goals without justice” I nodded my head in agreement. My joy knew no bounds as I stepped out of the house into a very chilly and foggy Harmattan weather. I started perambulating within the compound trying to locate the exit gates, when suddenly an elderly woman, who had witnessed everything that transpired in the house, beckoned and directed me.
As I stepped out of the gates with great joy and happiness in my heart, I started singing David’s song: “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad indeed ...” The celebration continued until my wife and beautiful damsel shouted “Ritchie of Dublin (an alias carved from my English name (Richard) given to me by my junior brothers), your breakfast is ready” It was then I realised that I was having a long frightening dream or nightmare, effectively becoming “Joseph the Dreamer”.
The import of this revelation is that the Igbo youths are agitated about two demands:
Firstly, they want justice through true federalism, which happens to be a desirable objective, but the modus Operandi being deployed was absolutely wrong. In part three of my trilogy piece on The Nigerian Economy: Roadmap to Economic Recovery And Growth, I noted thus:
“Restructuring Nigeria simply means that we as a Nation must organize ourselves differently, geo-politically and socio-economically. The more I brainstorm on this, the more it looks like a mirage due to the fact that it has been highly politicized. While the present arrangement favours a particular section of the country, it remains fantastically unfavourable to other sections because of the inherent issues of insecurity, nepotism, marginalization, militancy, insurgency, resource control and derivations; and infrastructural deficits.”
Furthermore, in concluding the same article I also stated that:
“Thankfully, if the present administration can win the wars on insecurity and corruption; and moves the Nigerian economy from a sinking state towards the path of survival, growth and development within its four-year term, it would have achieved so much to deserve an automatic second term from the Nigeria populace, but not without an attempt to restructure the Nigerian federation before the next general elections.”
This was based on the premise that the present administration could address many issues bordering on injustice currently manifested in the Nigerian Federation by simply implementing some of the laudable recommendations in the report of the 2014 National Confab, which was submitted to former President Goodluck Jonathan seven months to the 2015 general elections. For any meaningful restructuring to take place, Nigeria must hold its first referendum since independence.
Secondly, They want Nnamdi Kanu and other IPOB Leaders to be granted bail or better still, released from custody. This too is possible, but the questions are:
Is Nnamdi Kanu ready to surrender is Nigerian and British passports as part of his bail conditions?
Is he and others ready to stop making inciting statements against the Nigerian State?
Are they prepared to table their demands by using constitutional and United Nations Conventional means?
If the answers to the above questions are: yes, yes and yes, then there is absolutely to need to vent their anger on President Muhammadu Buhari, who is steadily doing his utmost best to ensure a more peaceful, united and better Nigeria.
Again, there is an urgent need for all the political leaders, traditional leaders and religious Leaders in the South East Region to complement the efforts of the Federal Government by converging to deliberate on practical solutions that will douse violent agitations, and resolve youth restiveness in this God’s beloved region that is full of hard working, highly educated, easy-going and enterprising people. The elders must do this, ditto other leaders in other geo-political zones, otherwise, when the heavens fall, the cataclysm will be unimaginable.
We must all embrace UNITY and PEACE as the pre-requisites for achieving the desired socio-political and economic development of Nigeria. Let us Go On With One Nigeria (GOWON) and continue to enjoy our unity in diversity, for therein lies our greatness. There is no better time than now for us to see ourselves as Nigerians, and not as Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Fulani, Kanuri, Ibibio, Ijaw and so on.
As former President Goodluck Jonathan rightly posited while declaring open a National Summit and Rally for Peace, Unity and Development, organised by the Nigerian Labour Congress in September 2012 “Those seeking the disintegration of the country are “Lazy Politicians” seeking to be kings in tiny islands”
We must remember at all times that our national unity is our most priceless asset.
Wishing you all a very happy, most rewarding and peaceful New Year.
God Bless Nigeria, And Long Live The Federal Republic Of Nigeria!!!
COMING SOON: Awakening The Nigerian Youth: May Your Days Be Rosy and Bumpy.
Shola Babs-Aro-Lambo presently works at The Embassy of Nigeria, Dublin. He is also a management and IT consultant; and a former president of NESALASU, 1989.