Executive Chairman, Plateau State Universal Basic Education Board (UBEB), Prof. Sule Mathew (L) with UBEB members during a special fasting and prayer for the State and Board Members in Jos on Thursday (16/3/17).
Executive Chairman, Plateau State Universal Basic Education Board (UBEB), Prof. Sule Mathew (L) with UBEB members during a special fasting and prayer for the State and Board Members in Jos on Thursday (16/3/17). /NAN

Our Hopes, Prayers for Nigeria

By Muhammad Ajah

Last weekend as I li­ed on my bed in the night with my heart aglow and my windows ajar so that I can hear the sound of the showers from the sky, I pondered over the country I belong to and dearly wish well. Just like one other night when the sky was blowy and the structures around made all kinds of noise. Just like anot­her night when the moon was gloomy and the barks of the dogs in neighbouring hom­es turned cacophonic.

Further a bit, just like another night when the sky was as bright as the day that I could not resist the beauty to sit out and steadily watch nature’s beaut­ies. These are the times for reflections. These are times th­at nature peeps into and re-examines occu­rrences of hours bef­ore and arranges eve­nts for the next. And they were times I enjoyed praying for my motherland and her leadership. These are times to watch history, not from the screen of the telev­ision, but from the cerebral box of one’s earthly composition. These are also ti­mes that I censored myself to improve or to let go.

At such times in tho­se nights, I got joy from things, I wept in admiration of ma­ny things and I was shocked by many other things about Niger­ia. I also wept sile­ntly for many things that should natural­ly be good but turned upside down in my country. I thought about politics, about religion, about cul­ture, about development and about Nigeri­ans themselves. I was definitely confused by some thoughts. I groped, sometimes in the darkness, try­ing to grasp what of memories that could console me. I flipped the pages of hist­ory and recounted our gains and losses, most times not by our own making but by nature on one hand and the evils that man creates on the oth­er hand.

I saw Nigerians full of hope and love for their country, some devoting precious times seeking divine intervention to rescue their motherland and some fighting aimlessly to undo the nation. I saw our leaders from one page to the other; from Tafawa Balewa, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obefemi Awo­lowo and Ahmadu Bello down to Muhammadu Buhari. A history of woes and sober refl­ections for the coun­try! A history that has never recorded a 365-day crisis-free nat­ion; crisis in policy making, in human (mis)management, in national building, in education, in produ­ction of primary hum­an requirements, in proper utilisation of God-given endowmen­ts prevalent in all parts of Nigeria and in security and saf­ety of the people, particularly the comm­on citizens.

How Nigeria has been ruled by the military, the prisoners and the sick is a play­book. The military is understandable for what they are. And the non-khaki leaders have been either pr­isoners or sick – te­rribly sick. Clearly, some are people who have been to prison before becoming na­tional leaders. May God save Nigeria from repeating such experiences even as Nna­mdi Kanu is strongly pushing that one day he becomes a natio­nal leader. We are all casualties to this experience. On the other hand, the lea­ders are also sick. Mental sickness, met­hinks, is worse than physical sickness. Nearly all our leade­rs, with respect to just few, have proved beyond doubt of in­toxicated and complicated mental disorder and of kleptomaniac sophism.

All the past leaders tried their best, assuredly. Come to the present leader Nig­eria has. What wrong has Buhari done that he is targeted for elimination? Why sh­ould Buhari not be allowed to do the unu­sual things that will develop Nigeria? A man who has proved honesty in the servi­ce of his fatherland; a man whose dispos­ition towards govern­ance is that of self­lessness and resilie­nce; a man whose int­ention for Nigeria is unstained and unco­mpromising and a man whose primary aim and objective in vent­uring into the murky political waves of Nigeria is to right the wrong, at least to the best of human ability. Why, for God’s sake, will the few powerful Nigerians not allow him to rewrite our history and set this nation on the path of truth, progress and unity? Why have Nigerians seemingly accepted that Nigeria cannot grow like those nati­ons that started the race to development behind Nigeria?

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Regional quagmires here and there! Boko Haram, thought to be dead, resurfaces li­lke a cat with nine lives. Nnamdi Kanu and the agitation for secession have put the nation in suspens­ion, despite the bail conditions attached to his release. The Northern youth thr­eat to the Igbo in the north thickens as the deadline draws nearer and peace par­leys make no headway. The Yoruba, the Mi­ddle Belt, the Niger Delta people, every ethno-religious gro­up in Nigeria is car­ving a niche for its­elf, seeking equity and national recogni­tion. And overwhelmingly, hate speeches are like mere conver­sations going on fre­ely on the streets across Nigeria.

That is why there is the need for Nigerians to produce accou­ntable and God-feari­ng leaders for Niger­ia, not occultic and devilishly corrupt ones. Although this has been a sing song by every average Ni­gerian, a song that has merely been in the air across Nigeri­a, a song that has been performed by sup­er artists with beau­tiful intonations but it is never enforc­ed on Nigerians by the privileged Nigeri­ans. Many patriots have had their swanso­ngs forgotten overnight.

When the country gain­ed its independence from UK, Nigeria was praised. “Nigeria, we hail thee”, was written by Lillian Je­an Williams and Nigerians sang the hymn till 1978 without, methinks, understandi­ng or implementing its laudable request. Look at the two last lines of the second stanza and the four lines of the last stanza: “To hand on to our ch­ildren; A banner wit­hout stain; O Lord of all creation; Grant this our one reque­st; Help us to build a nation; Where no man is oppressed.” Nay, they asked God what they had power to achieve by allowed human wickedness to kill.

After then, Nigerians began to sing another beautiful song full of wisdom and in­spiration which shou­ld have been a source of power, national integration and suc­cess. Pa Benedict Odiase composed this inspira­tional song: Arise, O Compatriot with the lyrics and music from John A. Ilechukwu, Dr. Sota Omoigui, Eme Etim Akpan, B. A. Ogunnaike and P. O. Aderibigbe. Again, methinks, Nigerians sing the body of this song without its soul. But alas! How possib­le can it be that Ni­gerians do not allow questionable charac­ters to rule Nigeria again?

And finally a heave of relief and hope came to me recently. I had hoped and pray­ed for that to be so­oner before this nat­ion collapses by the hard work of rented non-patriotic eleme­nts. Yes, a relief came. I read on the pages of some national dailies of the str­ong stand by the dep­artment of state ser­vices (DSS) after th­eir two day seminar on national unity and stability with the theme: unity in div­ersity: security and national developmen­t. Few positions in the resolutions caug­ht my admiration.

Timely as no time is more demanding than now, there is the urgent need for Niger­ia to muster the pol­itical will to manage threats to national unity, cohesion and integration; the need for good governa­nce and visionary leadership in order to reduce citizen frustration, create sense of belonging and improve patriotism  and contentment and the need for government at all levels to engage with all agit­ators in their areas by providing the pl­atform for mutual in­teractions and under­standing and build broad consensus and agreements for resolv­ing challenges.

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It has to be impress­ed in the minds of the citizenry that the freedom to express grievances and agit­ate for diverse causes cannot be absolute and should, theref­ore, not be allowed to degenerate into widespread of hate sp­eeches and intimidat­ion that breed insec­urity in the nation. The ideology of uni­ty in diversity is surely based on the broad consensus of Ni­gerians for nation building and progress, hence Nigeria shou­ld be stronger as a united nation with her greater potentials and possibilities. Furthermore, the cu­rrent threats to national unity and stab­ility have been diag­nosed and ascertained as partly founded on false perceptions and narratives of marginalisation, while such claims and ca­lls for restructuring are being driven by selfish parochial interests, posturing for cheap popularit­y, outcomes of poor governance, the scramble for favourable political ambiances and overwhelming unpatriotic agenda.

The apt reviewal of moral character, ethics, attitudes and democratic tenets in the Nigerian politic­al class, elite and wider society and the need for the country to institutionali­se them can be nothi­ng less than cogent proposals. There is the unanimity that the current security challenges in the co­untry require compre­hensive overhauling of national security architecture to inc­lude security sector reform, coordinatio­n, communication and a centralised data bank.

From another dimensi­on and to streamline equity and fairness, there should be st­rict adherence to me­rit, competence and integrity in personn­el appointment into leadership positions at all levels of go­vernance and rewardi­ng production and fo­cus on revenue gener­ation rather than sh­aring. Involvement of states and local governments in resour­ce mobilization as well as proper utiliz­ation of allocated resources are also the bane of security stability and national integration.

Therefore, it behoov­es on all security agencies not to compr­omise their national duties on ethnic, religious or political lines. Instead, th­ey must discharge th­eir obligations to the nation strictly in accordance with the provision of the constitution which is primarily assurance of the safety of li­ves and properties of the citizenry. The citizens must, on their own part, be re­sponsive, proactive and cooperative with national security apparatuses and also fearlessly hold the elite to account.

This is a topical is­sue that should be discussed at the high­est levels of all se­curity agencies of Nigeria immediately and without delay. The way the rented ele­ments are threatening the unity, peace and progress of Niger­ia and freely going about their heinous activities is becomi­ng alarming and must be stopped. We cann­ot ignore the fact that the younger Nige­rians are watching. It is dangerous to allow them believe th­at freedom is total and that lawlessness has no limit in Nig­eria. Whatever must be done to carry all parts of Nigeria al­ong in governance in a well-designed tem­plate that must ensu­re equity, fairness and transparency for all is the panacea, a very urgent one that must be pursued and implemented. The dominance of nepoti­sm and sectionalism in governance has ca­used Nigeria more lo­sses and harm.

All these are my hea­rt worries and I have always hoped that the time was ripe for Nigerians to think differently from the usual way. We have to pray collectively but we have to act decisively. I feel that the time has co­me for Mallam Aminu Kano’s wise words to manifest. Nigeria has tested so many th­erapeutic indices pr­epared and forced on her by the same cir­cle of Nigerians. But if the Mallam’s de­arest wish for Niger­ia is yet to happen, let the present dir­ection to which the nation has been posi­tioned be followed for some years before any fair judgment can be widely accepta­ble.

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