(By Sylvester Udemezue)
Happy Sallah celebrations to all our Muslim brethren.
It is well with you all. May you all, individually and collectively, live long on earth to witness many more happy Eid-el-Adha Sallah celebrations. Amen.
I respectfully advise that our leaders and indeed all Nigerians, Muslims, Christians, etc, should use the opportunity offered by the 2020 Sallah season to engage in some disinterested introspection and deep reflection on the present sorry condition of our country, the causes, implications and possible solutions. To this end, I invite leaders and followers in Nigeria to consider whether it is likely or practicable for Nigeria and Nigerians to witness genuine progress and development, genuine unity or peace if our leaders and followers still persist (as they currently do) in their deliberate neglect and abuse of the provisions of Chapter 2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, in all government businesses, policies, programs, plans and activities. Section 13(1) of the Constitution provides that *”it shall be the duty and responsibility of … government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of Chapter Two of this Constitution.” Section 14(1) provides that *“the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice”* while section 14(3) states that “the composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, “thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.” According to section 15(2): ”National integration shall be actively encouraged, whilst discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited.” And finally, by the provisions of section 15(4), ”the State shall foster a feeling of belonging and of involvement among the various people of the Federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties.”
The questions arising from the aforementioned include: Are our leaders honestly observing these provisions? Or are the provisions merely to decorate the grund norm? Are we ready to tell ourselves the truth and to repent and be prepared to embrace Government of National Unity and Governance For National Unity, or are we content with just continuing in the present shenanigans, hypocrisy and grandstanding all in the name of leadership?* ??Do we want a country that truly works or are we okay with a country that sucks while the rest of the world rocks? What really do we want?
By way of suggestion, I respectfully state that we, individually and collectively, need to start paying attention to, honestly recognizing and sincerely embracing and implementing the provisions of Chapter 2 of the Nigerian Constitution. These provisions are not inserted into our constitution for mere decoration or embellishment. Their implementation is at the root of our survival and genuine advancement as a nation. Honest compliance with those and similar provisions is required in order to enthrone and sustain equity and fairness and to afford every section of the country a sense of belonging.
Feeling of a sense of belonging is the most important requirement for achieving genuine peace, realizing strong unity and having in place an endurable progress in Nigeria ?? As things stand now, it is either we wisely/wholeheartedly embrace chapter 2 of the Constitution and begin to make the progress we need, or we unwisely continue to evade its sincere, un-clannish implementation and thereby remain the way we are — stagnant, suffocating, directionless, and stagnating. Our hope and progress as a nation would begin to materialize when we learn to carry every section of our country along, to treat everyone and every segment as a part of us and to act as one big family, not as separate ones, and to eschew segregation, exclusion, clannishness, selfishness and nepotism in governance.
In summary, we must change our way of thinking and behavior towards one another— towards fellow citizens. As William Jefferson Clinton (Bill Clinton) puts it, we must, in our hearts and in our laws, treat all our people with fairness and dignity, regardless of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.” Again, I call on Nigerians to consider whether our approach/attitude to religion is not a major impediment to our progress as a nation and as a people. I wrote elsewhere: “Nigerians have turned religion into a tool for propagation and promotion of discord, disunity, rancor, hate, and backwardness. While the Holy Books of the major religious groups in the country, … each preach love, unity, oneness and care, most religious leaders and their adherents in Nigeria practice an entirely different thing. Even within and among people of the same faith, religion, the matter is no better. For instance, among Christians, there is a persistent cold war, sharp division among the various, ever-multiplying, denominations. Ditto for Moslems! It is therefore either that we do not study these holy books with a proper understanding of what they contain or we have chosen of our own volition to deploy religion as a weapon of segregation and division, to destroy this beautiful country.
If we must call a spade a spade, we would admit, for once, that religion has almost destroyed Nigeria. Most Nigerians raise so much uproar in Churches, Mosques and other places of worship, but there is hardly anything to show for it in our daily lives, conduct and behavior, especially towards fellow citizens…. We Nigerians need to urgently retrace our steps about the way we approach religion. We must …understand that, … spirituality doesn’t mean making walls in the names of religions and prophets but to make more roads and bridges to reconnect with humanity. I would therefore like to think that God created this planet with peace in mind, not violence…no region should divide a people of one destiny, … if we are to become true global citizens, we must abandon all notions of ‘otherness’ and instead embrace ‘togetherness.’”(http://www.barristerng.com/stop-christian-moslem-prayers-public-events-nigeria-support-bishop-matthew-hassan-kukah-sylvester-udemezue/). ??
Finally, it is my view that if we continue on the current ugly path, we would remain where we are while the rest of the world moves on ahead, leaving us to continue to wallow in abject lack, acute underdevelopment, steady regression and ultimately self-destruction/annihilation. As for me, for as long as I remain alive and breathing, I shall continue to write and speak out until we (leaders and followers, including me) are wise enough, mature enough and sober enough to see and follow the light of truth which is the only tool for our eventual emancipation from the shackles of ignorance and unending indulgence in sins in the false hope that grace may abound. Although, some people have repeatedly argued/said that our leaders do not care about our opinions and do not listen to what people say, and that our writings and disinterested counsel are therefore never taken (the handwriting on the wall seems to testify to these arguments), yet I am encouraged by the piece of advice given by Alice Walker: *”the most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” A major duty (legal) researchers and rule of law campaigners (such as I think I am) owe society in the practice of constitutional democracy for promotion and sustenance of responsible and responsive governance is to constantly offer legal opinions on issues of law to guide our leaders and institutions in the discharge of leadership responsibilities. So, we continue to advise Let all who have ears, let them hear. I’ve observed that our problem in not hearing is not that we do not have ears; it is just that most of us do not use them!
May God help Nigeria!