Nigeria is said to be a Country, good and fine, but I am beginning to think that the idea we have of a country is different from what it ought to be. A nation should, I suppose, independent of the cultural, religious, climatic differences, share a common goal, a common purpose, and this should be expressed by the amount of peace and freedom that every member of the State enjoy in any part of it? If for example there is a case where a Chibuzor finds it difficult to worship or move about in the North, if an Abubakar can only sleep with one eye open in the East, or even if a Kehinde is afraid of being robbed or kidnapped in Abba or Enugu, there is a big question mark.
One of the purposes of the modern States is to create a climate of peace and order among inhabitants. And in such States, there should be a Sovereign head whose duty is to assure the security and liberty of individual members. Their freedom of movement, of speech, of worship, of political adherence, etc. ought to be assured, more especially if it happens to be a democratic State and I suppose Nigeria is one. In another hand, the head of State maintains peace and order through the use of Police and other security Parastatals. In a situation where this later finds it difficult to do so, we talk of a state of insurrection or near insurrection depending on the level of the insecurity and violence that reign.
However, as the success of the head of State should normally be determine by the way he assures the citizens and strangers the condition necessary to enjoy their primary rights, and when the reverse is the case, there is a problem, and the Sovereign, according to Hobbes, loses his Supremacy.
In reality, if we are to follow this notion of Hobbes according to which the Sovereignty is :
“Absolute: because conditions could only be imposed on a sovereign if there were some outside arbitrator to determine when he had violated them, in which case the sovereign would not be the final authority.
Indivisible: The sovereign is the only final authority in his territory; he does not share final authority with any other entity. Hobbes held this to be true because otherwise there would be no way of resolving a disagreement between the multiple authorities”[i].
It then means that, since the ruler’s sovereignty is contracted to him by the people in return for maintaining their safety, their liberty, their rights, if he fails to assure these, the people are no longer obliged to obey him. And the result, of course, will be a state of anarchy, which is the worst government that any nation should pray for.
Following the recent incidents in Nigeria, I am seriously asking myself if this present, just as the past, PDP led government has any reason to enjoy their sovereignty? Can they enjoy it when they are neither absolute nor indivisible? How can they be Supreme when they cannot assure neither security of life nor of property. How can a government that never for once maintained a single promise be legitimate, how can we obey them if they are not ready to protect us? Where is the freedom of worship in a Country where the idea of going to Church evokes terror and fear? where people, instead of feeling secure in the presence God are afraid of bomb and armed attack? Where is the freedom of movement in a Country where every traveller is reminded of his imminent death either in the hands of robbers or roads accidents. Where is the freedom of speech in a Country where no amount of words or critics changes the organized politics of corruption that has become the order of the day? in a Country where well-armed soldiers are sent to subdue peaceful demonstrators?
Should we talk of tolerance among the citizens? The head of State through other Local Authorities has the duty of assuring a peaceful cohabitation among the people. They should use every possible means, more especially religious organizations to maintain peace and order. But in the Country of Uncle Sam, the reverse is the case. They instead use religion to create trouble and to intimidate others. They sponsor rogues and terrorists to bomb Churches and organize youths to vandalize and maim the others in the name of retaliation.
Even though I do neither share the idea of Emile Durkheim nor that of Ludwig Feuerbach who states that the major role of religion is the assurance of social cohesion, I still maintain that if eventually religion has even only served this purpose to Nigeria, it would have been a great achievement. Even if it had eventually made people learn the common idea of respect for strangers, reverence to holy areas and right attitude to life and morality, we would have been one of the most peaceful Country in Africa.
What pains me most is not just that the Country is tearing apart but that we watch it do so without taking any bold step to remedy the situation. The leaders are only interested in their political career. In fact, ours is a nation where political offices are career and not service, where a man only cedes power to his relative or child.
The youths on their part are victims of fanaticism. they are carried away by a new way of seeing the Paradise. And the result is that they are either more Christian than Paul or more Islamic than Mohammed. They love a god they do not know to the detriment of the One that reveals himself in their nearest neighbours. The Ex-President of India, Apj Abdul Kalam, said that his believe in the progress and development of India depend on his belief on the capacity of the Indian youths. In his revolutionary Book, Ignited Minds, unleashing the Power within India, he states:
I am writing this book to make young people hear a voice that says, “Start moving”. Leadership must lead us to prosperity. Young Indians with constructive ideas should not have to see themselves wither in the long wait for approval. They have to rise above norms that which are made to keep them timid in the name of safety and to discourage entrepreneurship in the name of trade regimes, organization order and group behaviour. As it is said, thinking is the capital, enterprise is the way, Hard Work is the solution[ii].
This statement is applicable to Nigeria for many reasons. We, like India, are populous, multicultural, multiethnic, plus-religious etc. These are supposed to be a blessing to us just as Kalam describes it in the case of India:
“I am sure on my part that India has the ability to transform itself into a developed nation. […] They have a fantastic mix of believe and knowledge that sets them apart from any other nation on earth. I also know that their potential has gone untapped because we have become used to being subjugated and docile what better project can I undertake than to tell my people that what they dream of can become possible, that they can have anything that comprise a good life: health, education, the freedom to pursue their goals, and above all, peace”.[iii]
What I am telling the youths in essence is what a revolutionary prelates of El Salvador, Oscar Romero, told the Salvadorian soldiers: instead of the ungodly orders of your leaders, respect that of God, when they ask you to kill, protect life instead. Open your eyes to discern well what the leaders: political, traditional and religious leaders all included, ask you to do. When they ask you to hate or kill your fellow, refuse it for it is not from God. What the Creator wants from you is love. Let that be the only law you respect.
And for the government in power, you remain unperturbed; but I am sure it will not be too long. Many will lose their loved ones in the hands of these hoodlums and counter-hoodlums, many will lose their property and business in the hands of the retaliators and trouble makers and by then we will understand that no country is too pacific as not to revolt against insupportable situation. My real fear is that there might be an uncontrollable situation in the future, and that future might not be too long.
The religious leaders are not exempted. They have a serious role to play in this situation, They should inform their members and hold the government responsible. If only there will be an accord between the religious leaders: Imams, Bishops, pastors, Priest etc., we will bring to an end this unbearable situation. Nigeria can be better if only we accept.