Friday Special… of Nationhood!
This piece was inspired by an intelligent friend and patriot of mine: Zanau Hassan Maikasuwa. At every opportunity, Zanau thinks of how to turn despair into opportunities. In our Whatsapp group – Taraba Innovation’ people have nominated Zanau for minister of agriculture, commissioner for agriculture, SA Agric, Governor of Taraba State inasmuch as his ambition is to run for the House of Assembly position form Ibi Local Government of Taraba State. I wish many more were like him…. Or rather, I wish many of his type were involved in running the affairs of this country.
This morning on the group, he posted a very critical message after someone else made a statement. He said “One is about land area while the other is about a people” referring to the difference between a Country and a Nation.
It is quite absurd how our beliefs turn 360 degrees as soon as borders are placed around us. From brothers, we become enemies. This is evident in North – South Korea, India – Pakistan, Burundi – Rwanda and even within Nigeria; same people become violently divided once a boundary is created. Cross River – Akwa Ibom, Taraba – Adamawa states for instance……and many more for local governments areas are fiercely in conflict with each other as soon as a boundary is created! How does a boundary suddenly change our attitude?
This even happens across social boundaries like religion and even politics. Even within the same religion, you can imagine what happens.
For us in Nigeria, without a political ideology of any kind, we flip support like 2-way switches within moments after a rumor of decamping is confirmed. You will be amazed at the energy deployed into the arguments justifying one defection to another. We gun for each other’s jugular…. Everyone wailing or hailing at the case may be. We seem to forget that life goes on after politics and that at some point, we look back and see how childish our actions and utterances were.
John Sidney McCain has become the most “googled” name in the last few days. No one will watch his history on TV and belittled any of his actions as a politician. Even without the usual “say good about the dead” belief, McCain is hailed as the epitome of American patriotism. He was usually looked upon to unite a divided Senate when the need arose. His arguments were always based on issues and principles of nationhood and not of divisiveness. One of the high points of McCain’s life of patriotism was when he took the microphone to defend his opponent; then President Obama, in a public rally. He openly scolded the lady about discrediting Obama on the basis of unfounded speculation and prejudice. His own fans booed him. Today, I can imagine the shame those fans feel.
Nationhood is a subconscious state of believing and doing good irrespective of where we find ourselves. Nationhood is about thinking of a future for our unborn generations and working towards achieving them.
At what point to do we begin to teach and practice nationhood in this very difficult time? I think it has to do with our political and ruling class. They deliberately seek to divide us for their own personal gains, causing unnecessary enmity between the badly educated and ignorant populace. It happens everywhere across the world, but what we practice in Nigeria is legendry.
At the slightest provocation, we resort to name-calling, we mob, we stone, we kill. The government treats everyone like a suspect, and the citizens treat each other with disdain. This was what happened to Rwanda until the height of its crisis. I learnt President Paul Kagame made it a crime to identify yourself as Tutsi or Hutu….. You are first a Rwandan! Maybe we can start from there.
I do not believe “restructuring” can reshape our mindset. There is a deficiency of nationhood that keeps declining with poverty and lawlessness. No one cares what happens to the guy next door so long as it is not “my brother”. You can hear it on the radio, watch it on TV and read it on social media. And today’s journalists have even made it worse…. There is looming disaster and we should stop playing ostrich. Last week, a friend of mine highlighted the clear and present danger looming in the plateau for instance. He said Beroms and Shendam people don’t see eye to eye anymore in Jos. Whether a rumor or true, this is dangerous and shows how much we have lost the consciousness of nationhood.
Today, I will admonish us to look around us and see if we can make a conscious effort to correct the lack of nationhood that hovers around our heads. We have a choice… to do it or not. Whatever we do will determine whether or not we will live peaceably with each other. The decision is ours.
Do have a fabulous weekend if you can.
By Rufun Ibrahim Jauro