There have been divergent views on the National Conference initiated by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. There are those who are afraid that it may end up dividing the nation. Others argue that the nation can only be made great through constant dialogue. Of course to make a nation work requires belief. We believe. Our nation in all its diversity ought to represent the mark of strength of Africa in the wide world. Methinks that Jonathan is poised for the great task of making the nation work through daring all our fears. That is the way to go.
At this time that the nation is being fecklessly torn apart by mundane ethnic concerns, bigotry, hate and terrorism, it is incumbent on the President to take charge of the central unifying role of bringing all together through shared values. The Americans have infamously put out the report that Nigeria will break up in the year 2015. It is crucially needful not to be daunted by suchlike doomsday predictions. The added dimension being peddled by other Negativists is that Lord Lugard’s Amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates of Nigeria in 1914 was meant to last for only 100 years. The bonds established by Nigerians across ethnic and religious borders in the intervening years have grown beyond the flimsiness of a whimsical breakup. The unity of purpose shown by all past Presidents and Heads of State in the recent centenary celebrations attends to the fact that President Jonathan operates as the prime mover of the unity of the country.
It is critical to note that Nigeria can in no way be singled out as the only diverse nation in the world. India, for instance, has its share of diversities and even mutinies, but it still holds aloft the torch of democracy. Nigeria is today building on her democracy, and the future can be made brighter through the welding together of all our people in harmony. Past leaders of stature all over the world such as Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru and Nelson Mandela are ready examples to emulate. The dream of our founding fathers, notably Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, to build a formidable nation that should stand the test of time must not be compromised on the altar of small-mindedness of parochial sectional leaders. That is the essential lesson of indivisibility that President Jonathan preaches.
For instance, Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore who died a few days ago, boldly made the mark of taking his then fledging nation from the Third to First world status. Then Dr Mahathir of Malaysia repeated the feat. This shows that it is possible for Nigeria to defeat all debacles and shoot well ahead in the comity of nations, without bending the knee to defeatism. The problems of the country ought to be seen as challenges which can be mastered, as President Jonathan is showing by example
The transformational work that President Jonathan is undertaking in the railway sector is a real pointer to the binding together of the vast poles of Nigeria. The railway track that travels all the way from Sokoto up North down to the South through Umuahia, Aba and Port Harcourt must have over the years established so much binding mores amongst the diverse Nigerians. The migration of Nigerians to all nooks and crannies of the nation even before the amalgamation has built together uncountable Nigerians who call anywhere they reside in the country home. President Jonathan keeps reiterating that he is ready to lay down his life in the drive not to superintend of the disintegration of our dear nation. It is incumbent on us all to take up his clarion call.
Nigerians of all classes and creeds and ethnic nationalities must perforce place the vistas of unity as the pathway to national redemption. The leaders of the six geo-political zones must play the pivotal role of bringing us together instead of taking parochial sides that almost always lead to Violence.
President Jonathan has set the ball rolling, and it depends on the delegates to the National Conference to deliver on the promise of melding Nigeria and Nigerians in unity. It is necessary to learn from the likes of Sudan and South Sudan that separation almost always leads to violence and further destruction. The uprising in Ukraine remains a clear and present danger. The issue at stake now is to do a truthful dialogue such that Nigeria is built on the foundation of equity and justice.
It is remarkable that when he was Nigerian Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari said: “This generation of Nigerians and indeed future generations have no other country than Nigeria. We must stay here to salvage it together.” There is no escaping from the very necessary task of binding this country together. We always celebrate together whenever the national team, the Super Eagles, triumphs in football. We can translate this joy of unity to our national politics.