BY Usman O Abdullahi
Nigeria my beloved country, a country I can proudly call my own, a nation immensely blessed by God Almighty and naturally endowed with the best of minerals. We are a people whose strength, lies in our population and in our diversity, lies our unity. We are a strong people, indissoluble, indomitable and invincible. Our arable land, shrewd minds and avalanche of resources at our disposal make us unique. But then, we ask ourselves, how did we get to this point?
Nigeria as it stands today is buffeted by a myriad of challenges ranging from insecurity, economic instability, increasing double digit inflation, stagflation, menacing recession, rising unemployment, abject poverty, ethnic and religious divide amongst others. When we begin to look at all the issues on ground, I can say assertively that only a strong nation can survive all of these and remain as one.
I feel worried every time I read the papers to hear of bokoharam insurgency ravaging the north-east, banditry in north-west, cattle rustlings in north-central, marauding herdsmen in the south-east, kidnappings in the south-south and recent spate of pipeline vandalism in the southwest. Almost everyone is affected somewhere, somehow.
The security situation in the country has escalated and permeated all spheres most especially the agricultural sector, as most farmers cannot go to their farms due to incessant attacks from bandits and marauding herdsmen, some have gone ahead to hire private security to guard their farms while others who cannot afford it are forced to stay at home, all of these have culminated in overpriced staples including our new gold “onions”.
Section 14(2b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government. It is on the basis of security every other thing is built. While I watched the recent documentary on #EndSars protest anchored by Nima Elbagir (CNN Senior International Correspondent) which was made possible using geolocation technologies and also interviewing over 100 protesters, I was left in utter dismay but still hopeful that the Lagos State Judicial Panel will unravel what truly happened on the 20th October, 2020 in Lekki and bring the issues to the fore.
The economic instability is not helpful, which is as a result of shrinking GDP, dwindling prices of crude oil in the international market and surprisingly the increase in price of PMS in the country. Recently, it was reported that the country is sliding into recession which will be the second recession in five years of this current administration. All of these have engendered a great hue and cry amongst the citizenry; many are despondent and depressed coupled with the fact people now earn less due to the post covid-19 effects, double-digits inflation which has reduced our purchasing power, high cost of a dollar to the naira and more people being underemployed and unemployed. I can say, the only thing we have as a people is hope.
Ethnic and religious divide have done us no good as the masses are always at the receiving end. I really don’t see reasons why these issues should divide us; as the aristocrats, leaders and political honchos are never divided by these, so what is actually responsible for this schism?
When the interests of politicians are at stake, Christians, Muslims, Hausas, Igbos, Yorubas amongst others are always referred to as one Nigeria. When we travel outside the shores of this country, we are never profiled based on colour, language, religion; we are all called Nigerians. Let our collective vision be greater than any division in order to impact positively to our nation.
I believe in Nigeria, I have hope in Nigeria and most importantly I have faith in Nigerians. Nobody outside will fix our country for us save for me and you. Nigeria can be that nation of our dreams, if only we come together and shun all the primeval and parochial sentiments that divide us and drive that ugly wedge amongst us.
In the words of Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Till we begin to see Nigeria as a team, where all and sundry will have a say in its dealings, only then the desired Nigeria will be birthed. Till we begin to understand our differences and realize there is unity in diversity, only then the child of nobody can become somebody without knowing anybody. Till we begin to understand that the powers, privileges and positions given to us are truly from God Almighty for the benefits of mankind and we would give accounts before Him, only then can we truly reap the dividends and benefits of democracy.
We will rise again like that proverbial phoenix from the ashes, our glory shall be restored among the comity of nations. Nigeria will be that nation all the nations of the world will celebrate, notable investments shall abound in our land and there shall be prosperity across its length and breadth. But remember, for all of these to happen, we all have to be involved; get your PVC and vote your conscience on election days, it is better we wise up as a nation, vote buying and vote selling will only devastate us the more in the long run, what do we stand to gain if we sell our votes for $4k today and afterwards buy rice for $40k tomorrow?
Finally, I end with this maxim from Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe which quips “if every man sweeps in front of his house, the world will be a cleaner and better place.” Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Usman O Abdullahi is a writer and a public affairs analyst based in Lagos and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org