Until the philosophy which hold one race superior
And another Inferior
Is finally And permanently
Discredited And abandoned –
Everywhere is war –
Me say war.
That until there no longer
First class and second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man’s skin
Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes –
Me say war.
That until the basic human rights
Are equally guaranteed to all,
Without regard to race –
Dis a war.
War in the east, War in the west,
War up north, War down south –
War – war –
Rumours of war.
And until that day,
The African continent Will not know peace,
We Africans will fight – we find it necessary –
And we know we shall win As we are confident In the victory…
– Bob Marley (Feb. 6, 1945 –May 11, 1981)
Only yesterday morning, there was pandemonium inside the banking hall of Guaranty Trust Bank, GTB, along Calabar Road in Cross River State, following what observers said was a clash between a soldier and four mobile policemen.
According to media reports, a canister of tear gas was allegedly shot inside the banking hall filled with customers causing them to flee in several directions. Moments later, armed mobile and regular policemen also allegedly stormed the bank, demanding to see the soldier, while a contingent of soldiers also landed, shooting sporadically into the air, as on-looking bystanders and passersby scuttled to safety. The matter was said to have been resolved later and the combatants vacated the banking hall.
For a people that are daily getting inundated with insecurity issues from far and near, that incident was not in any way funny just as it added to the catalogue of crisis scenarios in the land. If not, who would by any atom of imagination hazard a guess that someday the crises in the larger Nigerian society would creep into the sanctuary of the banking hall where customers are expected to feel safe, secure and free from the madness out there?
Did Robert Nesta Marley, aka Bob Marley, have Nigeria in mind when he wrote and sang his record-breaking evergreen song, War? That song whose lyrics are above and first appeared on Bob Marley and the Wailers’ 1976 Island Records album, Rastaman Vibration, no doubt summarises what we all currently face as a people and nation.
A cursory overview certainly tells it all.
While the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is employing all known and unknown strategies to checkmate the siege on the nation, especially from the North-East flank of the nation by Boko Haram, a carryover from the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan’s dispensation, the Biafra movement and its very many protests sprang up from the South-East. Then there is the reality of herdsmen attacks across the land.
I am very sure that as meticulous as every Nigerian has learnt to be in recent times, only select few can say with every degree of certainty the actual number of hundreds of thousands of innocent Nigerians and their property that have been lost to these so-called wars.
Enter the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, from the South-South region and adverse economic fallouts of their crusade against free and normal flow of crude, refined and natural gas in the area. Today the economy suffers the several lives lost.
And that is not to including the Sunday outbreak of alleged religious crisis in Niger State that had no fewer than four persons, including personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, losing their lives in Padongari, a town in Rafi Local Government Area of the state.
Spokesperson of 31 Artillery Brigade of the Nigeria Army, Minna, Njideka Agwu, was quoted to have disclosed that a mob killed one Methodus Emmanuel, a 24-year-old trader based in Padongari, over allegations of blasphemy.
“Three other persons, including personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps also lost their lives,” she reportedly said, adding that “troops of the 31 Artillery Brigade of 1 Division, Nigeria Army, quickly intervened and restored law and order while a dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed in the town.”
She said the hoodlums embarked on further violence on Monday morning, looting shops and blocking the Lagos –Kaduna Road, a major highway connecting the northern and southern parts of the country. She added that the army had made some arrests in connection with the incident and that the suspects had been handed over to the police.
As plausible as it was with Agwu’s further remark that the army would continue with its non-violent approach to maintaining peace in the area, threatening that troops would not hesitate to deal with anyone attempting to promote violence, the development still underscores the fact that these strange wars, even after one year, the deliberate, determined and focused efforts of the Buhari administration at fighting insecurity are not in any way by happenstance.
If anything, it is an urgent call for all to revisit those fine visible and invisible chords and values that have since bound us together as one people with a common destiny. But will the no-do-gooders, political merchants, idle self-serving sycophants and unpatriotic wolves in sheep clothing in our midst let this be? Yes; methinks they should; if only we all are dispassionately galvanised by our leaders from the community levels through the local governments and states to the centre for positive action that has Nigeria’s social, economic and related survival as its key goal.
Politics apart, I agree with President Buhari’s remark inside Aso Rock Presidential Villa when he told State House correspondents of his pity for his Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, whose responsibility it is to explain government’s actions or inaction to Nigerians.
“One of the men I pity is Lai Mohammed. Every day he is on TV explaining our performance or lack of it,” he said.
With the coming of the APC, expectations of Nigerians were high. After 12 months of the APC, these expectations have, at best, remained forlorn hopes.
Buhari’s regional coalition against Boko Haram might have tightened the noose on the murderous Islamic sect, but despite his tough talk, the insurgency has not abated. Rather a new front has opened with attacks on oil installations by the so-called Niger Delta Avengers. And the storming of the creeks of the Niger Delta in search for NDA members and alleged sponsors/backers is yet to yield much result. Instead it is steadily militarising the area with the people living under an atmosphere of “war.”
Buhari’s accomplishments in one year are impressive, but they are below expectations of the chattering political class, still far from meeting the needs of the masses. Buhari is chided for trying to do too much. He is weakened by his moderation, not his boldness. Nigerians are told their disappointments come from exaggerated expectations.
With his agenda diluted by entrenched APC power brokers, the crisis that the president inherited continues. It is only just begun, some are tempted to say. The administration is still finding its legs. The APC hasn’t adjusted to the power that they now wield. The gulf between the president’s vision and his administration’s reality continues to grow.
Ultimately, Buhari will increasingly have to choose – whether to hold to his vision and raise the stakes, or compromise his vision to cut the deal. And the millions of Nigerians who voted for him also have to choose – whether to sit back and hope he does the right thing against the odds, growing cynical when he fails their expectations, or stand up, mobilise and challenge the president to get on with the change he promised.
That way, these strange wars threatening to envelope the nation would be confronted with Buhari chiefly and trustily in command. Sincerely, we should be able to win these strange wars. That will be when there are no longer first or second class citizens; when development will spread without regard to party affiliation of the people and until the philosophy which holds some people superior to the others is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned by all. That is when wars and rumours of wars in the East, in the West; up North and down South will be put in check.