Port Harcourt, Nigeria
It is another October 1st, a time when the drums are rolled out to commemorate the independence of our great nation, Nigeria. It has been 51 years of excitement, if one may say so. Different persons have differing views of how we have fared as a nation of many nations under one banner. Recent events have brought to fore again, the call by many that the time has come for all the individual nations in this entity called Nigeria to sit and discuss the terms under which we want to coexist together or peacefully disunite.
A largely heterogeneous mix that was “ceremoniously” united by the colonial masters without recourse to the desires of the component groups was bond to fray over time at the edges. A stitch in time saves nine is an apt idiom of what should have been done to enable the fabric of this nation hold. However the leaders, inherited, forced on or voted into power have not helped the issue. Selfishness, ethnocentric inclinations, religious intolerance, gross corruption amongst other things has served to fan the embers under the cauldron of seething sedition.
Many are they which are calling for a round table conference (whether in sincerity or out of a bid to be known, is irrelevant) to discuss the terms on which we can continue as a nation. Others are of the opinion that there is nothing to hold us together, so we are better off going our separate ways. On the surface, the latter opinion seems simple and less complicated but I also know if we are to split, a round table and a referendum are unavoidable.
The burning question is “along which lines will we split that will engender widespread acceptance and guarantee harmony”? Suppose we say the North from the South, we do see that the different nations under the 2 divisions are unlikely to comfortable in that lumping together. As can be seen in the perennial Jos crisis, the indigenous people are having a running battle with Fulani. To the uninformed, all persons from the Northern states are Hausas or Fulani, but to indigenes, there is no compromise to their identity and right to exist without being submerged under a “dominant” tribe. Should we talk of the Niger Delta with their numerous tribal entities that already feel marginalized within their states and are agitating for sovereignty?
Suppose the lines are to be drawn according to religious beliefs such as created the country Pakistan from India? In Nigeria, although the North is termed predominantly Islamic, there are states in which Christians hold their own in terms of population, what will happen then? Nigeria in theory is termed a secular state, yet religious crisis between adherents of Islam and Christianity in the Northern parts are rife. What can we expect if we split along religious lines? In the West, the populace consists of a good mix of Muslims, Christians, adherents to the religions of their forebears and those mixing two of the religions. Under which religious grouping will we consign the west then?
Irrespective of the differing good arguments for how we can divide amicably, I cannot truly see a light at the end of that tunnel. The problems we are facing will probably still remain and maybe grow worse. I stand to be educated and corrected, but I am yet to see countries that have divided due to their problems become havens of peaceful coexistence amongst its new stakeholders. Therefore I would buy into the reasoning of the first group, that as unwarranted the amalgamation of this country was, we are in it for good and we can make the best of our heterogeneity.
As a minority and a Christian, when I read or hear news of certain happenings in the country, everything within me cries for a split, but then I remember that I am not here by mistake. I could have been born a Ghanaian or Palestinian, but I am proudly Nigerian though sometimes one has to search hard to see what to be proud of. I believe as a Christian I have a major role to play in how this country moves towards achieving all it has potential to be. I also believe that our spiritual instructors have a strong voice that can echo loudly enough to change the course of this nation. It is unfortunate that when we need to hear those voices, they are silent and allow false prophets and pastors to speak. I thank GOD for the current leadership of CAN (CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA) for being vocal on national issues as well as proactively sending aid to crisis ridden areas.
The bible in 1 Tim 2v1-3 gives us a recipe for dwelling in peace in our land; it enjoins that prayers be made for all men and especially rulers. How often do we pray for our secular leaders rather than criticize? How often are heartfelt, heaven moving prayers made for the nation, not during crisis periods only? Life and death is in the power of the tongue, yet daily we only speak death about the nation and yet expect prosperity and peace! Jeremiah was told he had been placed as the power behind any king. He could place or remove any king or nation he decided about. We have been placed in the same position, but I guess the truth is that we either don’t care if the nation goes up in blazes as long as our little comfort zone is safe or we don’t believe we have the power. But the problem is that after John the Baptist and James; Herod will come for Peter unless we pray.
It is not by mistake that this country has Muslims and Christians massed together in the nation. If we were a predominantly Christian nation, how easy would it be to evangelize the North? As it is, we can settle almost anywhere in the commonwealth of Nigeria because we are Nigerians and this creates an avenue for the propagation of the gospel. Even when outright evangelism may be limited in certain areas, our lifestyle will evoke curiosity that will lead to witnessing for Christ. I am one person that is persuaded beyond all doubts that our continued existence as one nation Nigeria in all its diversity is for good and it will serve to accomplish the SOVEREIGN GOD’S plan for this great nation , for we are ONE NATION UNDER GOD!
Happy Independence Day!