Nigeria is not regarded as the giant of Africa and largest black nation on earth because it has the most beautiful name among the comity of nations. Rather, it is our rich cultural heritage, diversity and the large population the country is endowed with. Therefore, our diversity is our strength and source of pride and honor.
My keen observations of recent political development across the country is pointing to series of needless efforts by some elements across the country aimed at destroying our rich diversity and heritage for obvious political reasons.
These efforts are targeted at reducing the country into the feckless North – South divide, first-class – second-class citizens, or Muslim – Christian dichotomy. This is indeed worrisome and pointless at this time of Nigeria’s history and stage of development.
There is no gainsaying the fact that no country in the world is free from some challenges, ranging from security to politics. These challenges vary from one country to another, based on some indices such as geography, politics, economy, culture, education, history, among others.
Nigeria, therefore, can’t claim to be an exception. Indeed, our country has it own challenges resulting from the above-named factors. Like all other countries, all hands must be on deck to surmount these challenges by all and sundry.
Blame games, as it has been observed, or lamenting the challenges afflicting one side of the country and at the same time celebrating some challenges afflicting the other side, to say the least, is very unpatriotic and capable of dragging the country to an abyss.
Security challenges, particularly terrorism is one issue that has dominated the world scene for more than a decade. And Nigeria is not immune from it. Other forms of challenges facing the country now, which the security agencies and the political leadership are bent on overcoming, include banditry, kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery, ritual killings, herders-farmers clashes, among others.
It is imperative to say that some elements from the Southwest and the Southeast in particular, are making political capital out of the current challenges at the detriment of the overall commonwealth of the country and its people. This is is indeed a dangerous and unfortunate trend.
There is no doubting the fact that there is internal security challenges across the country. What is, however, not correct to do, is to geo-politicize it and blame it on a particular section of the country, or an ethnic group.
Apart from the Boko Haram insurgency which killed thousands of Nigerians in the northeastern states of Yobe, Borno, and Adamawa in particular, and other parts of the country in general, the banditry in Zamfara, Kaduna, Sokoto, as well as communal clashes in Benue, Plateau, Taraba, recorded the highest human and capital casualty.
It is worrisome that while some political actors have lost their voices when the people of the Northwest and North central are at the receiving end of this murderous activities of bandits and communal warriors, the same people woke up from their slumber when some singular incidents happened in southern parts of the country.
These same political elements threw away all decorum to the air and dressed themselves in ethnic and sectional garbs, making inflammatory statements capable of incinerating this country and tearing it apart as if they have another country than Nigeria.
Their stereotyping and labeling of criminals is one of the worst forms of unpatriotic actions they have embarked upon. World over, those who commit criminal acts are called criminals irrespective of their colour, race, ethnicity, or religious affinity. But that is not the case in Nigeria. All criminal activities now are associated with the Fulanis. It is Fulani herdsmen, and Fulani kidnappers.
This is a worrisome dimension and the criminals are enjoying it. Instead of nipping the crime in the bud or going after the criminals, the country is now reduced to labeling and name-calling of the crime suspects rather than ensuring that the criminals are apprehended and made to face the full wrath of the law.
This abhorrent ethnic-labeling of criminal activities, if left unchecked, will lead us to a situation where we will have ‘Yoruba ritualists’, ‘Yoruba internet fraudsters,’ ‘Igbo armed robbers,’ among others. This is totally unacceptable.
The outrage that followed the killing Mrs Funke Olakunrin, daughter of a leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, along Ore-Shagamu Expressway recently, was understandable because human life is involved.
But the sensationalization of the murder by the media, which quickly labeled the criminals as Fulani herdsmen was unfortunate.
Prominent Yoruba political leaders used the opportunity to make some divisive comments and called for the dismemberment of Nigeria over the murder of the lady. In fact, a former Nigerian leader, whose tenure was replete with the mass killings of helpless Nigerians and carving of territories by insurgents, described the killing as an act of terrorism during a visit to the bereaved father.
While others used the opportunity to call for secession, another one used it as a letter-writing opportunity to unleash his encapsulated anger against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
It was on record that President Olusegun Obasanjo superintended the massacres in Zaki Biam in Benue state, and Odi in Bayelsa state.
The murderous Sharia riots of Kaduna occurred during his tenure. It was also during his regime that the seeds of carnage on the Plataeu was planted. He seems to have forgotten all these ‘remarkable’ feats he recorded as president. This is apart from the high profile assassinations of a serving minister, Bola Ige, and opposition stalwart Harry Marshall.
In his letter, Obasanjo called for national conference. The former leader has been obsessed with conferences since the one he organized in 2005 to perpetuate himself in power through third term failed woefully. President Goodluck Jonathan also organized a conference purportedly to advance his ambition. Tax payers funds and quality time was wasted on the conferences but with nothing to show for it. Neither of the leaders implemented the reports of the conferences they organized.
It is high time for all political leaders to eschew bitterness and avoid using our fellow citizens as guinea pigs in our ambitious political laboratories.
Our security agencies should be supported and allow to perform their duties of maintenance of law and order without fear or favour, and without infecting ethic and sectional or religious venoms into their modus operandi.
– Yari is former Governor of Zamfara State