By, Israel A. Ebije
I watched a video clip published by a credible online media organization where Femi Fani Kayode (FFK), a former minister of the federal republic and Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra had chitchat and I couldn’t help pondering on the future of Nigeria. I don’t know when the video was shot but my best guess would be two weeks ago after Kanu was released on bail. What FFK hinted on in that video is instructive as mistrust, dishonesty, hate has become our vanity, our bane in Nigeria.
In the video, FFK revealed the position of a prominent Nigerian from the north on trust issue between the north and the south divides. He said while discussing on issue of trust, the said northerner intimated that the north can “never” trust the monolithic south on account of the 1966 Major Kaduna Nzeogu masterminded coup that led to the killing of their “leaders”. Certainly, the monolithic south have issues against the north and that is where the trust issue targets all that is left of unity concept of our dear country. The content of the video got me thinking on varieties of issues, tilts, twists and turns that has characterized our nationhood.
If we must ask questions across ethnic, religious divides, many definitions of mistrust and empirical records of breach of trust based on our numerous cleavages will tumble down in different perspectives. It is indeed imperative to understand that Nigeria is not faring well as a united entity as a result of mistrust. Our trust concern may not be dated to 1966, but a growing cancer that has festered as we journey on our path to nationhood. Nigerians have so much regional, ethnic values tied to personal gains, hence the senseless quest to protect and at the same time protest perceived or imaginary infringements.
A lot is going down in the area of mistrust. While Jonathan was president, the North refused to accept his leadership and largely misconstrued his judgment as a leader, interpreting his actions as agenda of his regional cleavage. Now Buhari is in the spotlight, alleged to be promoting a Northern agenda. The Chibok girls debacle has several interpretations. The north believed Jonathan deliberately refused to act, leaving the entire region to suffer in the hands of insurgents. Under Buhari some Nigerians are insisting northern elites set up ‘political insurgents’ to frustrate Jonathan. Based on these divides of opinion some Nigerians are not impressed with the war against insurgence. There is also sharply divided opinion on the intensity of killer herdsmen in communities dominated by Christians. Some believe it is aimed at Islamization of the country, others believe it is aimed at blackmailing Buhari.
General Buratai has turned whistle blower on alleged plot by the military to topple government. Reaction of a section of the country was far removed from the position of the general. It is believed that he is trying to divert attention from the real plan to frustrate Osinbajo from taking over if Buhari is declared incapacitated. In fact some people opine that the alleged coup fear is hatched by northern high ranking officers trying to prevent Yar’Adua, Jonathan impasse on account of death if Buhari fails to pull through (God forbid). The trust issue has been there before independence and will continue ad infinitum unless we come together as a nation to destroy mistrust along religious and ethnic underpinnings. The way things are going presently, it is only a matter of time before the center cave under either violently or on the table of secession negotiation
In the area of war against corruption, trust issue rears its head again as many Nigerians believe the fight is selective. The aspect of appointments made so far, many think the monolithic south is marginalized. On the ailing president Buhari, he certainly has no sympathizers in some parts of the country. Some people believe karma has caught up with him on his seemingly poisonous comments against late president Yar’Adua when he was sick. Trust concerns has made many to doubt presidency position on his health status.
Regardless of the origin of mistrust among Nigerians, regardless of the level of multiplicity, political underpinnings and maneuvers, it is instructive for Nigerians to begin conscious efforts towards dealing with issues of trust. Our trust concerns range from regional, religious, political, economy down to family. People of same religion or ethnicity are suspicious of themselves. There is no end to the trust issues among Nigerians. This reality has kept the country on a path of destruction since independence. The height was the Biafran war and the lingering secessionist agitation
To deal with the level of disunity among Nigerians it is instructive to bring everybody to discuss a common agenda. Sadly, Jonathan tried a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) and everything articulated there went up in smoke. Even those sent as representatives quickly lost confidence of their people on account of trust concerns. It was believed they have been compromised by a government believed to be championing self serving agenda.
We must dust recommendations of the SNC, pick items that can help us align properly as a nation. We must also identify political elites using religion and ethnicity to divide us, while they use same to unite across the country. When prominent Nigerians poured into the Hill Top mansion of former military president of Nigeria Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida in Minna, only friendship, mutual respect and interest was their mantra. We must wear our thinking cap to fashion out the best direction for our country before we disintegrate based on our mutual distrust.
Ebije lives in Abuja. Can be reached through; [email protected] or @ebijeisrael