Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jos on my mind.......

The web has been inundated with comments in the last few days over the recent killings in Jos. The issue has been analysed from different viewpoints. Social commentators have even offered suggestions on the way forward.

Although opinion seems divided on the real cause of the Jos crisis, one fact remains, we have a big CHALLENGE going forward - be it religious or ethnic. It is also clear from all discussions that this ‘contraption’ (or call it whatever you like) is not working or has stopped working – at least in the last 25yrs or so.

I do not intend to regurgitate all that’s been said, however I will like to pose a few questions, based on my observations in the last few days.

1. In light of the recent genocide in Jos, does it still make sense for us to be calling for the resignation of President Umaru Yar’Adua? I’m sure some will be wondering what’s this guy talking about. For me the sickness of President Yar’Adua has somewhat become a secondary issue. The current threat to our national existence is more than President Umaru Yar’Adua’s sickness.

2. Also, why the deafening silence from religious leaders? It seems most of our religious leaders have decided to adopt a ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ strategy. If the Catholic Pope can call for restraint in ethnic/religious violence in Jos from far away Rome, then where is the Sultan of Sokoto? Where is the National Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA)? Where is the Pentecostal Federation of Nigeria? Where is the Christian Association of Nigeria?

3. I also find the lackadaisical attitude of the civil society to Jos crisis appalling. When Farouk AbdulMuttalab was arrested in Detroit last December for trying to blow up a US airliner, we were all quick to shout “WE ARE NOT TERRORISTS!”. In fact a group on a social networking site, had about 250,000 members within three days of been created. So what about Jos? What are we doing about the innocent boys and girls been butchered in the middle of the night? So which is a greater act of terrorism between a boy trying to blow an airplane, and marauders slaughtering fellow human under the guise of religion? President Barack Obama must now be convinced that we are indeed NOT terrorist.

4. Which is more important, electoral reform or sovereign national conference? If nothing, the events of the last few days, as once again brought to fore, the deepening religious and ethnic intolerance in Nigeria. And unfortunately, the legacy of intolerance has been passed from one generation to the next. The last civil war has left indelible marks on our parents and created some much distrust among various ethnic communities. It is suffice to say that some children of my generation have been deliberately encouraged by their parents to be intolerant towards people of other ethnic groups.

There’s no doubt that the foundation is very faulty. We claim to be a federal state, but all our legislation and administrative elements run contrary. We have metamorphosed from a unitary nation (under Military) into pseudo- federalism. We claim to be secular, yet we are members of Organisation of Islamic Conference. We state government with theocratic administration within a democracy. We have no state religion, but every year billions of naira is wasted on sending people on holy pilgrimage.

Even if we able to implement the best electoral reform in the history of world democracy, I very much doubt if it will make any difference. I doubt if it will remove the threat to our national existence. I doubt if it will heal the wounds of ethnic marginalisation. I doubt if it will make us a more tolerant society.

This is in indeed a time for sober reflection. It also provides a renewed opportunity for us to redefine our terms of engagement. If my brothers in the north want to be chopping off the hands a pick pocket, whilst celebrating pen robbers, let them feel free to do so. If my brothers in the south want to legalise nude/strip clubs, so be it. However, none of these should be forced down the throat of anyone. We must sit down and discuss it in the open.

This entity called ‘Nigeria’ must be redefined!


seun said...

You doing a great job Mr seyi..may God bless you and keep....Nigeria will be better in our own generation!!!!!!!!

Sakinah said...

Weldone Mr Seyi for the struggle to make a change to goverance in our dear country

Isioma said...

True word Seyi, Yar'dua is no longer our main problem. But before i go further, is it possible that the killings last Sunday were designed to distract us from focusing on him?
Having said that, i agree that Nigeris seems not to be working, but i guarantee you that a split will NEVER resolve the problem(s). Nigerias main problem if you ask me is Nigerians. When we are able to rise above selfishness and begin to place nation above personal gains, things will begin to work. How do you explain that someone who was Minister for works and transport failed to "fix" even the roads leading to his home State? Rather he chose to embezzle the money voted for that purpose. How do you also explain that people from a particular part of the Country were awarded contracts for road construction/maintanance within their region and chose rather to keep same for themselves, only to turn round and cry marginalization? How do you also explain that people who will be commissioners and other such government officials have to go and swear oaths of allegiance to the CEO? Let us not forget that brotherhoods exist all over the world, make no mistakes about it. But duty is to Nation first and everything else follows after.
In our case, allegiance is first to occult and then to self.
Is it the case, that David Mark and Bankole lack the power to push for certain reforms? The answer is NO. All they lack is the will to do what is right simply because it does not tie in with their immediate and long term plans.
In the last couple of days i've followed peoples comments regarding last Sundays killing in Jos and all i can say is that the average Nigerian is still very tribalistic and bigoted. There were those who sounded like the January killings never took place, as though the victims of that incident were not also human beings, simply because of their tribal and religious persuasion. Seyi i'm forced to stop here for now, but our problem is not the so called contraption, it is Nigerians, we should allow our education and exposure permeate every aspect of our existence, then only then will we know true progress and freedom.

Seyi said...

@Seun and Sakinah...thanks guys for stopping by. The struggle elongs to us all. And by HIS grace we shall overcome.

@Isioma..Hmmm. what else can I say. You've said it all. The depth of ethnic and religious prejudice in our country cannot be over-emphasized. And most it is due to sheer ignorance.