By Nnamdi Udensi
“And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:” Mattew 12 vs 25
The problem of this nation can be traced to the pre-colonial era, plebiscite of 1962 in the North East, the fall of the first Republic, followed by a domination of military juntas whose aim was more or less for personal gain and their regional influence. Then came the civil war and several minority problems.
In all this Religion had been used as an opium to fuel regional and tribal conflicts. To bring back peace and trust within the Union a national dialogue and restitution needs to commence.
This King Kong attitude by our leaders against their own people will only lead to anarchy. A good father must humble himself enough to discuss with his family in time of crises.
In the Northern region terrorism grew wings when previous government choose to clamp down on terrorists instead of engaging them on a dialogue. Alas today, banditry and kidnapping had become the order of the day.
The policy drivers had not bothered to dialogue meaningfully with the various kingdom’s or people grumbling despite receiving this advise from some notable clergy men across various religious divide, but they choose to show force as a means of quelling this instability.
There is no difference between the agitation by those who joined the Nigerian state in 1962 following a Plebiscite over perceived marginalization now turned bandits or terrorists in the North East and their counterparts in the West or East over the same grouge. Their mission is simply same ie to secure an independent state either as a caliphate in the North East , oduduwa in the west , Niger delta state in the South South or Biafran territory in the East. They all aim to uproot the green white green and establish another flag.
In the West Agitation for self determination was championed by S. Igboho . Instead of dialogue with stakeholders they choose to use security men and brute force to clamp down on the agitation while calling these group a terror group.
In the East a group called Ipob emerged. They were carrying flags when they commenced their campaign for self determination and no one bothered to dialogue with them. They came under heavy hammer of government, got proscribed and the group formed a security arm Eastern Security Network and had become a threat to peace and stability in the region.
The North Central had gone through a terrible siege from unknown fulani herdsmen. Their cries has fallen on deaf ears as they are often asked to go and learn how to live peacefully with their neighbours. How can you live in peace when you are mourning. What they need is condolence and support. There is nothing to learn when one is bereaved but to muster courage to face the reality.
In the South South, the ecological degradation that had affected their environment for over ten decades of oil and gas exploitation needs to be addressed alongside the abject poverty of this rain forest. The exclusion of this group of people in main stream politics because of their minority status should form part of the national restitution plan.
Today the city of Portharcourt is covered with black soot and polluted underground water table and no direct federal government programme had been initiated to address this specific health hazard. How will the people of this region have confidence in the state when life expectancy had been reduced drastically.
Having spent over N5 trillion naira on security, it will be cheaper for the various arms of government to come down from their mighty chair and engage in meaningful dialogue that will costs less than arms and engage in meaningful dialogue amongst the various regions and people that had posed a national threat to kick-start the healing process instead of brandishing imported brute force against her own citizens. The policy makers must learn humility because this is an internal ramble. Mounting check points and forcing your citizens to raise their hands like captured slaves while passing on the road is nothing short of dehumanising your people.
In a major move this year , Germany says it expects to begin restituting its Benin bronzes to Nigeria next year 2022 to settle the colonial past.
The decision was made after culture minister Monika Grütters called an emergency meeting with German museum heads, state culture ministers, and members of the foreign office for an unprecedented discussion on how to handle the fate of the Benin bronzes, thousands of which are in several museum collections across the nation. The items were looted from Nigeria in the late 19th century. Within a day, the group had settled on a shared position: to begin restitution in 2022. This how to serve justice and not by use of force.
After a meaningful dialogue, the policy drivers must Institute a restitution plan to assuage the griviences and compensate the various sections of the nation that had lost faith in a united Nigeria. This restitution may come in the form of national awards, recognition, edifice, tax incentives/wall of honours , to affected citizens and people , allocation of oil Wells, and provision of basic infrastructure for the affected regions, return some stolen wealth of the indigenous people, power rotation , appointment balancing etc . Its this restitution plan that will heal the scars that had caused these pains. This will be like the price paid for justice. Without restitution justice cannot be said to have been served.
If the government does not urgently engage all these dissenting voices but continue to act like a Kingkong reading riot acts to her own family, the nation will soon be thrown into a state of anarchy.
The dialogue and restitution must cut across all divide, from the Kanuris in Kanem Borno empire, North East basins, the Tiv in Benue , the Ijaws/Ogonis for their oil and gas in the Delta , the Yorubas in West, the Igbos in the East for the civil war, the Hausas in the North, the Christains in the North, Muslims killed because of their sect, farmers in the South for their crops, the fulanis in Northern Nigeria for their cows, the Edo – Delta for their timber used to develop lagos etc. This must be total and all inclusive. Etc
Guns and bullets can solve conflicts in an external aggression , but when the aggression is internal or family based it becomes very difficult to use it as tool to resolve conflict. This is because there are no clear boundaries. It only creates faceless gorillas that will inflict serious scars on the body of the nation. Enough of the blood letting of sons and daughters of Nigeria in different regions in what ever guise. Let the father of the reformed Luggard house call his children together to dialogue and bring equity justice and fair play again to the union. Its only when this is done holistically, that the nation will begin to heal and the peace will return to our roads , streets, and schools.
Nnamdi Udensi writes from Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Daily Report Nigeria