...Redifining Journalism for Development

In search of a peaceful Nigeria, by Barrister Gimba


We have arrived at an unfortunate point in this country; I see human lives being turned into mincemeat every day and I see people that now make a healthy profit from depriving innocent school girls of their freedom. I have seen elders; the custodians of the society, keeping mum or adding fuel to a fire that can only burn this much. And amongst these problems is an easily explainable gap between the rich and the poor, very poor public schools, a scarcely improved power sector… one would be forgiven for saying the center can no longer hold in this country, how long till things fall apart?
I am a person that dreams often, but even at that, the topics of my dreams vary differently and are not necessarily constant. One topic has, however, been a constant feature in my dreams and it is that of seeing the lives of people being valued in this country. It is not of having skyscrapers like Dubai or having demonically fast trains like china; it is that of seeing Nigerians tolerating each other, peace reigning in our lands and our lives being valued and respected. Certainly, that is not too much to ask. It has however evaded us.
In 1971 a black civil rights activist, Ann Atwater was asked to chair a 10-day community meeting in Durham, North Carolina to find an end to violence in their new mixed school (for both colored and uncolored students.) A KKK member was appointed to sabotage her work and in fact carried a machine gun to the first meeting.  True story!
She once angrily pulled a knife at him. But working together made them see the good side of each other and the bad, they learnt to tolerate. They later recognized that the animosity between them was ruining any chance they had of helping black or white children; they repeatedly teamed up to fight social injustice in all its forms. That was what united them; that feeling of looking after someone other than themselves, to understand the innocence of children and know they deserve to live a better life irrespective of the animosity between them… and help them live a happier and a more fulfilled life. This is the feeling we Nigerians need to cultivate.
I must admit that we are not one people, we might never be but not a single person’s blood is worth shading because of any conflict. Matter of factly, it won’t make one tribe any bigger and the other one weaker. It would only make the perpetrator a murderer and the other, an unfortunate victim that God would probably reward with heaven. Any angle you see it from, the victim is not the loser; his murderer is!
The hatred for one another is mostly reified by individuals that benefit from it financially or through other benefits, mostly political. The killings in Benue, Taraba, Kaduna, Zamfara and other parts of the country has given us thousands of reasons to believe that our lives no longer matter until we make it matter. These are no ordinary reasons; these are human lives; lives that should matter; lives of loved ones and lives of those that have left before seeing the Nigeria of their dreams. This country has failed them, we shouldn’t. I wouldn’t rush to make them martyrs, but their sacrifice is on the same wavelength with the labour of our heroes’ past… The sacrifice too, shouldn’t be in vain!
It seems like all our cries for a way out of this have produced nothing but tears in the rain because all the leaders have turned their heads away from our sorrow and the good ones’ hands are tied. Well, I have good news for them, they can turn their heads but they can’t ignore their direct or indirect role in the death of Nigerians. And if they don’t pay in this life, they will pay in the next.
What you should note is that any member of your tribe that tells you to kill a person from another tribe is not a good member of your tribe. And if it is to kill a person from another religion, know that there is no religion in the country that encourages its members to kill other people. And when a party member tells you something similar, it is even worse. The millions he has stolen is not in his party’s constitution and certainly hurting people isn’t also. You see, he is not even a good party man!
Some of us have developed a habit of blaming the action of an individual on the whole; when a member of a tribe/religion does something to a member of another tribe/religion, the entire members of that tribe/religion get blamed and innocent lives end up paying the price for a fight that is not theirs. What happened to settling your issues amicably with Uche or Jauro? Why bring an entire tribe into it? And why bring violence into it?
We have cried, we have bled, we have buried loved ones and we have cried a few more times. But that should in no way stop us from finding reasons to tolerate each other, to find reasons to love and look out for each other. It is not too late to forgive, it is not too late to give our children the future that they deserve. We can make things right in this country. And we will.

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