NIGERIA: HOPE BETRAYED
By Most Rev. Felix Femi Ajakaye (Bishop of Ekiti Diocese)
Hope is described as 'the general feeling that some desire will be fulfilled'. I tend to believe that was the feeling of our forebears (that is, the founding fathers and mothers of Nigeria). They sought Nigeria's independence from the British colonialists, though the struggle was not a very smooth one. Nigeria attained her independence on 1 October, 1960, and became a Republic in 1963.
With the celebrated independence, it was the desire that Nigeria was going to be better governed by Nigerians themselves and Nigeria was going to be one of the leading countries in both Africa and the world. However, it seems that the present situation and experience in our country, Nigeria, portray Nigeria as hope betrayed.
More than ever before, in Nigeria today, daily, we are now experiencing fear and trepidation. Wanton killings, abductions and other evil acts are glaring. There is no respect for human dignity. Human lives are being terminated almost daily in Nigeria by fellow human beings indiscriminately. Unfortunately, the Government and the Security Agencies are always assuring the people that they are 'on top of the situation'.
In fact, this is not the true presentation. As the Government and the Security Agencies continue to praise their achievements and present their victories in the media, in reality, the rate the killers, kidnappers and armed robbers operate and strike is alarming. Indeed, this is a sign that as they claim to be 'on top of the situation', they are below the action. In this light, I call on our Government and the Security Agencies to be more 'on top of the action' rather being 'on top of the situation'.
Thus, we need more of assured action and sincerity of purpose. We do not need any deceit anymore . Nigeria belongs to all of us and no groups of people have the exclusive right to kill and maim. All of us have the right to live and defend ourselves when we are faced with danger. These are dangerous and trying times.
Nigerians and the International Community are tired of the Government's promises and assurances 'of bringing to book' the culprits of these unabated killings, kidnappings, armed robberies and other evil acts. Enough of the rhetoric. Every human life is sacrosanct and it needs to be well protected. Life is sacred. All and sundry are to uphold the sanctity of human life and be true witnesses and promoters of human life.
'I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion' (Alexander the Great). This is food for thought for the Federal Government, State Governments and the Security Agencies. I urge them to wake up from their slumber and be tactical and practical in their approach to the insecurity bedeviling our beloved country, Nigeria. These terrorist attacks on the citizens and foreigners in Nigeria MUST be addressed concretely for the benefit of all and for the unity of Nigeria. What is the essence of celebrating democracy when there is serious insecurity in Nigeria?
The 19th year of the Civilian Government in Nigeria (May 29, 1999 - May 29, 2018), otherwise known as Democracy Day, should be used for a thorough sober reflection. It should not be another mere speech-making day. The unity of Nigeria is at the edge. There are war songs, accompanied with war drums across the country. Unless we, both individually and collectively, engage in genuine stock-taking and begin to address our legion of problems gradually without deception by both the leaders and the led, our country may be heading towards a calamitous fall. By the way, I humbly appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to actualize his statement on his inauguration as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on May 29, 2015:' I belong to everybody. I belong to nobody'. He needs to act those words now. Time is running out.
To avoid the fall of our country, we are to work and pray. We are to walk our prayers and our positive talks. For our country, not to fail, for our Nigeria not to fall, we are to remain optimistic and keep hope alive and active. To be optimistic is 'to expect the best in all things'. Nothing should separate us from God's love (Romans 8: 31-39).
As we keep searching for true democracy in Nigeria, where the real patriotic and godly civilian politicians will be bold enough to take up the mantle of leadership and be genuinely prepared to serve the people concretely and meaningfully, Nigeria will remain a theatre of daydreamers and opportunists who parade themselves as the alpha and the omega of Nigeria. Since leadership is the 'ability to guide, direct and influence people', today, in Nigeria, we need sincere, purposeful and committed leaders and visionaries who will inspire others. 'The power of the people is greater than the people in power' (Wael Ghonim). As citizens, let us start to put an end to Militarization of politics in Nigeria ('Militocracy') and Gerontocracy ('a political system governed by old people').
All of us in Nigeria, no matter our ethnicities, religions and political parties, are to strive to work for true democracy where the Constitution and the rule of law will be our guide instead of the whims and caprices of certain individuals and groups. We must entrench and promote good governance with strong structures, and not strong persons. Inevitably, strong structures will always surpass strong people. Strong structures last longer than strong people who will phase out definitely. No condition is permanent and nothing lasts forever.
Not to speak out is to lose out. With one voice, patriotic Nigerians must speak out against indiscipline, injustice, non payment of workers' salaries and pensioners, unwarranted incessant workers' strike, deceit, ethnic, religious and political bigotry, wicked policies and acts, looting of the commonwealth, diversionary tactics. This is not the time for blame game and accusations and counter-accusations. It is time for positive action. Nigeria is our country and we must not allow it to fail and fall.
Lastly, when will the Federal Government of Nigeria honour the symbol of June 12, 1993, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, and other heroes and heroines of June 12, 1993? Notably, without June 12, 1993, Nigeria would not have been celebrating May 29, 1999. As a reminder, the then self-acclaimed Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (1985-1993), who once called himself, 'evil genius', inflicted the everlasting injury on Nigerians by the cancellation of the Presidential Election of June 12, 1993, an election widely acclaimed to have been the fairest and the freest in Nigeria. It is the same retired military officers who are recycling themselves and calling the shots in politics in Nigeria. They are at the forefront. They dictate among themselves the governance of Nigeria. What a pity!
Arise, o compatriots.
God bless, protect and guide our Nigeria.
Most Rev. Felix Femi Ajakaye
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