The Nation (Nigeria)

Sentimenta­lity and Nigeria’s long path to progress

- By Samuel Oluwole Ogundele Prof. Og ndele rites from Uni ersit of Ibadan.

AFTER approximat­ely 61 years of political independen­ce from Britain, Nigeria still has several vestiges of savagery and barbarism clouding its horizon. Man is a social and thinking animal who must always reflect about himself in the context of the environmen­t-physical and spiritual. This form of thinking or reasoning has to be logical, understand­ably because coherence and consistenc­y are of the essence. Nigerians must be able to produce reasons as evidence for any conclusion to be establishe­d. But despite this reality, humans do not reason entirely from facts at all times. That is to say, that sometimes faulty thinking remains a devil to wrestle with.

It is no longer news that Nigeria is now at a crossroads. Consequent­ly, sophistica­ted thinking/reasoning is more urgently needed than hitherto. Smelly politics arising from religious/ethnic bigotry should no longer have a place to stand. The Nigerian experience in sentimenta­lism is worrying given the sheer scale of the damage it does to our national psyche cum overall progress. Insecurity, high unemployme­nt/ under-employment rate, and leadership style characteri­sed by unbridled nepotism/ patronage politics define today’s Nigeria. In saner climes and cultures, parliament­arians are the true representa­tives of the ordinary people. Indeed, a parliament is the backbone of robust democracy. But this democratic principle does not apply to this country which is currently bleeding profusely.

The inability of the federal lawmakers and other categories of politician­s, to work for justice and by extension, truth, is the greatest threat to Nigerian democracy. The comments made recently, on the floor of the Senate by Enyinnaya Abaribe-a southerner and Adamu Aliero of northern extraction, were a vivid illustrati­on of the confused state of the country. The former (Abaribe ) believed that it was time, to begin the process of honourably relieving President Muhammadu Buhari of his post, in view of the numerous problems and challenges that have be-devilled Nigeria in the last five years or thereabout­s. On the other hand, the latter (Senator Aliero) was of the opinion that the issue of impeachmen­t was uncalled for. Naturally, opinions may differ on certain issues, but insecurity is too foundation­al to human affairs to be politicise­d or trivialise­d. Aliero’s position was warped by prejudice and a total absence of ideology. The president is suffering a crisis of confidence among most Nigerians. The national economy has been thoroughly paralysed as food shortages loom.

According to informatio­n from television, radio, and the newspapers, more victims of banditry including kidnapping are from the northern region of the country. The Kankara, Kagara, and Jangebe operations whereby innocent secondary school students were abducted and traumatise­d were a national embarrassm­ent of huge proportion­s. This scenario could only happen in a jungle country, where everything is fast sinking into the murky depths of godlessnes­s and hopelessne­ss. No more respect for human lives, let alone dignity. Consequent­ly, kidnappers or bandits from within and without are being treated like kings by certain political and religious leaders. On the other hand, justifiabl­y angry, Nigerian youths were seriously maltreated by some security operatives late last year and in January, for embarking on peaceful protests. This is a world away from constituti­onal democracy. Salihu Tanko Yakasai, a Special Assistant to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, was sacked on February 27, for rightly condemning the Buhari administra­tion over another abduction case of more than 300 school girls in Zamfara State. Lying through the teeth has become the political norm in Nigeria. No more freedom of expression contrary to the 1999 Constituti­on (as amended). Good heavens, what are you doing? The United Nations cannot afford to look the other way because Nigeria is an integral part of it.

The citizens must begin to speak without pretension in order to save the soul of mother Nigeria. We should not continue to allow the two world religions-islam and Christiani­ty to divide us, as if we are irredeemab­le/incorrigib­le fools. Although crimes and criminalit­y have no religious/ ethnic boundaries, the current security situation involving kidnapping and raping of women on an unpreceden­tedly large scale, is extremely rampant in a particular ethnicity. However, there are always a few local accomplice­s-informants and food suppliers among others.

Human dignity and lives are being sacrificed daily on the altar of cultural colonisati­on. Nobody should be defending the idea of possessing and/or using such heavy weapons without authorisat­ion. Has Nigeria become a totally lawless country? Who licensed the cattle herders to be carrying AK-47 rifles about? Are they now special sacred cows? Our leaders should stop whipping up primordial religious/ ethnic sentiments arising from their selfintere­st. Nigerians are not a bunch of morons. I submit here, that ordinary Nigerians have no problems anchored to a lack of national integratio­n. The poor man in Kano and the one located in Ibadan or Enugu are on a par. The greedy, desperate political class members are our splitting headache. Therefore, it is a struggle between the toiling masses and the upper class. Nigerians need jobs and security among other things. They are neither seriously interested in where the president comes from nor his religion. They need a leader who has courage, compassion, broadminde­dness, vision, integrity, and last but not least, abhorrence of corrupt practices.

Posterity would not forgive this generation, if we failed to make amends for this unpreceden­ted national ugliness. Nigeria has a lot of lessons to learn from the 59th US presidenti­al election in 2020. Donald Trump was not allowed to come back for a second term as president through the lenses of the ballot box. Trump’s excesses which threatened America’s incontesta­ble status, as the global champion in such issues as politics and economy were his undoing. Sentiments had no place to stand as far as this election was concerned.

Donald Trump was the first president since the time of George H.W. Bush in 1992, to lose an election for a second term in the US. Again, the incumbent president, Joe Biden had over 51 per cent of the popular votes-the largest amount by any challenger since 1932. The constituti­on has to be respected at all costs in the interest of the common good. Thus, for example, at least seven Republican senators openly opposed Trump despite the fact, that they belonged to the same political party. They never allowed emotions to dwarf their capacity to think critically. America is bigger than everybody including the president. These senators included Messrs’ Richard Burr and Bill Cassidy representi­ng North Carolina and Louisiana respective­ly. This is in addition to Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse and Patrick Toomey.

I do not believe that Nigerians are geneticall­y inferior to any race in the world. But we must demonstrat­e this by constructi­ng a new pathway of progress for the country. In this connection, our national constituti­on deserves to be respected as a pre-condition for justice, equity, fairness, and peace on a sustainabl­e scale. Both the leaders and the led have to wake up from their unwarrante­d, disturbing slumber even as the minutes are ticking away.

‘The inability of the federal lawmakers and other categories of politician­s, to work for justice and by extension, truth, is the greatest threat to Nigerian democracy’

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