I think the latter because due to decades of bad leadership many Nigerians have reached a point of reckless abandon and forgotten how to love or live in harmony with one another or their neighbours.
From the little I know about dealing with pains and suffering whether man made or otherwise, unless you let go of the source of your pains and sorrows, get answers to questions, discuss those things that many people will rather not talk about, you may never heal, forgive and forget.
A typical example is a case I was involved in. Husband and wife constantly visited and poured out their hearts blaming one another other for the troubles in their family and lack of progress by their children. They never talked about or took responsibility for their personal or joint actions and inaction. Every time I spoke with them and thought that things were back on track they came back with different issues another time really testing my patience.
At a point when I was nearly getting fed up and ready to give up on them, I found out that husband had become insecure about him due to erectile dysfunction. He was ashamed to discuss it but wife believed that he was having an affair. Fast track forward, their conjugal relationship had suffered but they were not talking about it. As a third party I was advising on things that were not the problem and therefore constantly failing to reconcile them. Once the matter had been broached and husband received treatment everything went back to normal.
Why am I discussing this? There is deep rooted inherited hatred among tribes and religions in Nigeria which are constantly acted out but never spoken about for fear of being condemned or blacklisted for daring to challenge a well rooted institutional practice.
For instance, it is common but unspoken knowledge that Igbos, Yorubas, Ijaws etc. believe that Hausa’s feel that leadership of Nigeria is their birth right. It is also assumed that Islam which is the faith of majority Hausas is a violent religion and those at the helm of affairs within the faith use their unfortunate brainwashed brethren as willing tools of intimidation and destruction to actualise their belief in ownership of power as a birth right. Therefore whenever they feel that power may be slipping off their hands they take their brainwashed followers off the leash and set them upon other Nigerians using fear to force them to relinquish power. So the only rime Nigeria can live in peace is when a Muslim or Hausa from the North is in power or about to be in power.
Sadly, Igbos, Ijaws, Yorubas and others are united in this belief. Unfortunately this is not the only misgiving or truism preoccupying y our minds .It is common knowledge that Igbos do not trust Yorubas because they believe that they are treacherous and can never be trusted. Yorubas in turn do not trust Igbos because we are seen as greedy, dishonest, and treacherous money miss roads that can do anything for money and can betray anyone at any time for money.
Whilst these feelings and prejudices abound and have their roots in our inherited or ordinary human hypocrisy and weaknesses passed down to us by our illiterate parents, despite advancements in life and civilisation, they continue to control our minds and dealings with one another as people of one nation. In my mind these are the core reasons for the trouble in our country which is forcing everyone to think self, family tribe, religion first before Nigeria. This clearly will not work because before we could attend to all the things before Nigeria and reach her the die must have been cast.
A very typical example is the fact that although many people say that the GEJ administration is not functioning to accepted national or international standards, many Southerners, Easterners, Westerners and Christian Hausas are happy to support him while in office and during the next election because at least someone has wrestled power of Northern oligarchs. It is irrelevant that corruption, unemployment and crime may have peaked.
Of course the causes of this catalogue of failures are not devoid of the thinking that our supposed power drunken Muslim majority Hausa Northerners are behind everything and attempting to undermine or sabotage GEJ’s administration. Silently people think that out of frustration for not being in the driving seat they are the masterminds behind Boko Haram and the idea is to turn Nigerians against GEJ, a Southerner. A critical look into the timing of the Abuja bombings along with the abduction of children in the troubled states during the centenary and as GEJ was about to illegally flag off his campaign, lends a lot of credence to these suspicions. We can only know the truth if we openly talk about them and seek solutions or assurance from one another in such a way that everyone knows and accepts that although we may have our prejudices time has come for us to move on because they have got us nowhere.
The call for sovereign national conference has been going on for years but no one still wants to broach that issue for fear of any fall out as a result. I must say that this bothers on cowardice to an extent because unless we speak about these things they will continue to hunt us. Looking at the case of the husband and wife above, unless we speak about these things and get rid of our fears and prejudices, we might never get out of the unfortunate situations our fears and prejudices have plunged us into. We will end up perpetuating the ignorance of our uneducated parents and leaving nothing but a legacy of acrimony for generations of Nigerians to come. Every responsible parent wants to leave great legacies for their children. Our leaders in the past left us things to look and be happy about. We therefore owe our children the duty to leave them peace, unity, understanding and love and no longer hatred and prejudice.
Looking at where we have come from, it may now be time to stop running away from our problems and ask ourselves questions we must truthfully answer. Hausa’s mainly Muslim Northerners must be asked if and why they may be thinking that leadership of Nigeria is their birth right or inheritance and helped to understand that their views may be wrong and there is need to move on with changing times.
Igbos, Yorubas, Ijaw etc. must then be confronted too about any fears or ideas anyone or the Hausas have about them and everyone truthfully told the truth about life and how we may live together in peace. If it is apparent that we all can only believe that we are Nigerians when we have power, then we need to look at amending our constitution and defining the PDP style power rotation policy and make it law in our constitution. This way everyone would know when it is their turn to be in power and why they may be forced out of office if they fail to deliver.
This means that for instance when Yaradua died or the nation adjudged him incompetent, if it was indeed the constitutional right of Hausa’s to continue in office for the next 8 years then the respective political parties should look in their folds and give Nigeria the most competent of their men and women without any interference by the other tribes. If there is going to be any disputes it them becomes a problem for the tribe with other tribes as the mediators if so provided for by the constitution. That way there will be no chance of Hausas manufacturing or being suspected of manufacturing deadly violent sects like Blood sucking Boko Haram. This sort of plan will create room for a lot of respect, love and peace among faiths and tribes and give room for economic growth and political stability. If it is Hausa turn to lead the rest of us can concentrate on our businesses and farming which will attract investment and others while the others deal with their leadership issues. The same applies when Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa etc. when Igbos are sorting out their leadership issues.
We are all looking at Boko Haram and not thinking about any new group that may emerge if as many people may erroneously believe, GEJ is toughed out of office purely on the basis that power must return to the North. I can see Ijaws totally vandalising our oil wells for the next 20 years unto leadership falls back into the hands of a Southerner, Easterner or Westerner. Any attempt to stop them with force or otherwise will meet with the same condemnation GEJ is under where people feel that he is so soft on Boko Haram because he does not want to offend leaders of the North and lose Northern vote. On the other hand the same Northerners who are seen as having set up Boko Haram to disorganise, distract and force GEJ out of office feel that he is killing Northerners without cause. This is encouraging a lot of hatred with people more and more determined to bring down GEJ government not minding that it can as well cause as much problems as they have caused or are causing now.
Unless we address these problems, the culture of corruption, greed, general disrespect of women, abuse of children and marginalisation of our youths; any attempt to hide under an unenforceable CONFAB instead of the setting up of a Commission which will sincerely attend to our real issues and chart the way forward, we could only have succeeded in wasting money which could have been applied more justifiably on finding solution to our problems. This can only but create further acrimony among tribes and faiths. Such a commission must be fully representative of generations of Nigerians not just a wrongly chosen few for any form of political or personal advantage.
Until then the question on my mind remains this; Is Nigeria on fire or at war with herself?