So I have observed a lot of Nigerians expressing their disgust about the recent killings in Baga and the 10 year-old child bomber in Maiduguri on social networks, and they go as far as comparing these events to those that have taken place in France. I want to start by rendering my support to my compatriots’ complaints before asking them to wake up.
Is it not shocking that three lunatics commit horrific atrocities and the French respond by deploying thousands of heavily armed police officers to nip the crisis in the bud within days? Is it not also shocking that 17 people die in the aftermath and President Hollande responds by rallying together his nation, along with allied nations, to a unity rally? – A show of defiance! Is it not even more shocking that these unfortunate events took place in tandem with those in Nigeria, as if to expose our weak under-belly to the world? In all instances what the world could see was French demonstration of Liberty.
To understand the symbiotic relationship between the French and the word Liberty you will have to revisit the French Revolutions, the Revolutionary Wars and Napoléon’s Wars. The summary of these past events is, the French fought for Liberty – the freedom to express their views at the face of subjugation – and won through unity. What we all saw on 11th January, when 3.7 million people matched with their arms interlocked on the streets of Paris, was a display of unity under a common ideology. This is an ideology that is sadly missing from every Nigerian. Perhaps it is because we never fought for independence as others did. After all, the nation Nigeria was handed to us by our colonial masters and its formation had in it forces of its own disintegration. Truth be told, we are not a unified people and can never be. How could you ever unify people whose language are distinctly different from one another? People who still say that they are first Igbo before Nigerian, Yoruba before Nigerian or Hausa before Nigerian. I can go on and on but there’s no use crying over spilt milk – what’s done is done so let’s make the most of it – see Ghana.
Since returning to Nigeria, I have noticed how we Nigerians continue to commentate and point out the inefficiencies of our government, whilst also acting just like the very government that governs us. From our lack of unity stems self-centredness. We commentate – just like I am doing – and that’s it. For those living in Nigeria, how many say “okay as part of my commitment to a better Nigeria I will commit 3 – 5 hours/week of volunteering to the poorest secondary school in my local government, rendering after-school education such as fostering the schools debating society, or starting a press club?” And for those living outside Nigeria, how many engage in social initiatives that help provide for children back home and monitor the development of a less privileged child? However, I do remember dedicating my time to social initiatives abroad but when in Nigeria, where it also mattered, I spent time doing anything but that. At this point some people nod in agreement… and then I say… “Well it’s not too late to begin”.
Through these social ventures we as a people can start to foster unity and enlighten the younger generation to think first as Nigerians. Whilst I know that my recommendation will not solve the immediate problems faced in our country due to bad governance, I do believe it will go a long way to addressing the root problems facing us today. After all, we are 100 years-old as a nation, so we might as well start addressing the problem now. I also do not believe that we will see the unity demonstrated by France in the next 100 years, but I do believe that by engaging with the youth we would be one step closer towards a unified Nigeria. So I urge us all not to just comment and wait for our failed and largely self-centred government to implement the change that is necessary but to act; so that one day we too will match in our millions as a show of defiance in adversity.
P.s. My deepest thoughts and prayers go to those fallen in Nigeria and other parts of the world as a result of this sheer madness.