Whoever wins as President on March 28, 2015 must reconcile Nigeria. Resolving the issues facing us as a nation is to me deeper than we imagine and I do not think the coming polls will resolve these issues but will rather deepen the divisions. This forum has deepened my concern about the Nigeria question.
There is a very deep and strong mistrust amongst the various ethnic nationalities and we cannot continue to ignore this fact and hope that one election will resolve it. I wonder how a new government under Buhari will resolve this issue when the area (North) he represents is totally in opposition to the South-west agenda of federalism championed by the main arrow heads of the Change campaign.
On the other hand, President Jonathan represents a South-south/South-east agenda of total resource control with very sparse endorsement of true federalism as championed by the South-west. The recently concluded national conference exposed these divisions the more. The question is: How do we then proceed? I believe this is a good time for us to jettison our different hard line positions and seek true reconciliation. It is time to forget the mistakes, the actions and inactions of the past.
We must seek a Nigeria that is for all in which none is left behind like we did to the North (and South-east) and is hurting us badly now. A Nigeria that will forgive the deeds of the past, including corrupt acts. We need to forget the past, forgive those who have hurt and are presently hurting us and seek their rehabilitation. I know many will say this is a new position, indeed it is as I have pondered extensively over our nation and my conclusion is that RECONCILIATION is the only option.
We must build a new Nigeria where no tribe feels inferior. It is a tough task but I believe it is the only plausible one if Nigeria is not to disintegrate. But this cannot come through an elective process. This election can only succeed in dividing us the more as more of the presidential combatants are pursuing personal agendas.
We have to form a government of national unity to begin the process and at the right time when we have doused the palpable tension that is very evident across our land, then we can allow political activities without any restrictions whatsoever. Nigeria should not fail because we are a great people; a resilient and a very hard-working nation. But we have also made many mistakes, which are really not insurmountable. But whether or not Nigeria remains as one is largely in our hands.
It will have to be a total reconciliation and as I said it cannot come from any of the two major parties as this will deepen the divisions. There is too much animosity between PDP and APC, yet the reconciliation has to include them. They must see Nigeria outside of their party positions. People always corrupt the system. We don’t lack democratic concepts; it is democratic people we lack. The leaders take advantage of the very hungry masses.
Buhari is carrying a heavy load of corrupt politicians along with him (while Jonathan and PDP are fielding convicted criminals and choose not to probe their own ranks). Where is all the campaign money coming from? In 2007, my political platform, (Rev. Chris Okotie’s Fresh Party) spent N110 million in Lagos and we were hardly visible. We managed about 26 billboards. I was not involved in the national campaign so I do not know about that. We did not give out cash inducements but we employed over 5,000 people to work for the party. It was always a herculean task at the end of each month to pay salaries as the LGA Chair always tried to add more people. I was in charge as state chairman and had to use policemen many times. For all we spent, we got only 12,000 votes. I learnt AC (Action Congress) spent about N19 billion on the same election.
Nigeria was not a poor country, decades ago; we made it so due to bad leadership. Now all of the institutions and amenities that should have been built, we failed to build. Now we are paying the price, but it’s never too late to start over. I believe that for Nigeria to move forward, we must be willing to let go of the past errors.
But this has to be a decision taken by all the nationalities (that make up Nigeria). Corruption is not a culture in Nigeria as many claim; I believe a good leader can change this malady through his actions. Majority of our people need to be shown the right way and they will follow. One good leader can turn Nigeria around and reconcile the various nationalities and stakeholders.
Do not worry, just pray that the period of crisis is short and that God will protect us all. God bless Nigeria. Amen.
(Written by ADENIYI LADEGA | Lagos)