Yes, we do have issues of endemic poverty, infrastructural deficiencies and security challenges across the polity. The mess we have found ourselves is caused by the elites across different Southern and Northern ethnic groups. Let us demand for a better Nigeria without profiling any ethnic group or region. Good and bad individuals cut across all ethnic groups. ‘Judge an individual not by ethnic group but by the content of his or her character’ (adapted from Martin Luther King jr. speech).
Our problems are not ethnic or tribal, religious or irreligious. The problems we have can be argued as class-based (the masses versus the ruling elites) and not ethnic or tribal based. The problems we have cut across all ethnic or tribal groups, faiths or ‘non-faiths’, states and regions of the nation. The problems were caused by all. The solutions have to come from all. We all need to work together to save our nation before it is too late to do so. The problems were not caused by Hausa-Fulani; Kanuri, Igbo, Ijaw or Yoruba leaders.
Our problems are caused by the followers ,who individually and collectively embrace a culture of impunity in their daily lives. The followers who ensured their wards pass W.A.E.C. or make ‘progress’ in their endeavours through fraud and then expect the youth to bring up a sane society where things work. The followers who demand or offer bribes for jobs that should be done. The followers who honour individuals of dubious means while consciously or otherwise dishonour individuals of mentoring qualities because they are of little means. The followers who have forgotten that our leaders emerged from the same culture of impunity they enthroned, and those leaders cannot establish a better society. The followers who are ready to lose their lives for their predators: the same individuals who enthroned poverty and infrastructural deficiency in the polity.
The problems we have were caused by professionals, educated or otherwise;who failed to live by the ethics of their professions. Our problems are caused by staff members of public agencies,and institutions such as the Judiciary, ICPC, EFCC, Medical and Dental Investigative Panels and other Disciplinary Panels who cover ups acts of impunity and ensure no deterrence is served. Our problems are caused by law makers who become law-breakers.
The problems we have are caused by leaders who enthrone the culture of parochialism,patronage and ethnic bigotry. The leaders who ensure employments and jobs are secured because of who you know and not because of your qualities to deliver the goals. The leaders who after mismanaging the regular federal allocations which they did not work for, go ahead to obtain loans for further mismanagement and indebtedness of living and unborn generations. The leaders who when called to account for their stewardship recruit youths or ‘elders’ who they deliberately impoverished to fight for their ‘self-acclaimed ethnic, tribal or religious saviour’.
The online campaign against the North is wrong and uncalled for. It is most unfortunate if we allow debased political elites to sway us from the truth and reality. The masses are been divided along ethno-religious lines by the political class to achieve sinister ends, once they feel the national cake is not being shared to favour them. Were there to be any crisis, these debased elites do not have their wards here and will run for safety. The political elites are rather united and after causing crises to achieve their goals, they return to the table to share the national cake based on new formulae to address the reasons for causing the crises.
We should as an issue of moral necessity question how our ‘brothers and sisters’ have fared with our resources and developmental growth as appointed or elected public officers at local government, state or national level. How well have our representatives at State Assemblies, NASS, Executive, Boards and co. fared well taking care of the masses? It is the same problem across the polity. Hence, division along ethno-religious lines solves nothing. Unity of purpose to address impunity, corruption, accountability in governance, rule of law and electoral integrity is the way forward.
The nation at this crucial moment needs us the citizens wherever we may be to proffer solutions to our problems. We need to bring up the best of creativity in us to enthrone ethical values individually and collectively, establish systemic reforms, bring up our educational system to a productive standard which can resolve our societal problems, diversify the economy, rein in the pervasive impunity in the polity, and ensure probity and accountability in governance.
We all need one another. We do not need fragmented non-workable entities. No region can go it alone. Sooner than later such region will disintegrate without the protective and uniting factor of the Nigerian umbrella. We need a united Nigeria where justice and peace reign. Let us be united in diversity to drive the progress and development of Nigeria. May God Bless Nigeria. Amen.
–Dr. Akinlolu Abdulazeez Adelaja writes from the University of Ilorin