By Kingsley Paul
I don’t think there should be anything like “no go area” in the ongoing National Conference in Nigeria. The people should be free to dialogue to come up with a way to move the country forward. It doesn’t mean we will break up. Of course Nigeria won’t break up. There should be a genuine reconciliation and forgiveness, equity, fairness and justice as well as unity in a true sense of it.
Since Nigeria is a “marriage” of the Southern and the Northern protectorates, looking at it from that perspective, you must discuss inclusively to create room for trust and confidence.
A marriage that is not all inclusive may build up resentments that will lead to fireworks and break-up or put one party in an oppressed state. Because the oppressed will normally feel unappreciated and marginalised, and subsequently reserved, you can’t actually get the best from them.
We are talking of a country where everybody should have equal stake irrespective of your tribe, background or religion which are still the dominant factors in the scheme of things.
The president said in an address that he, coming from an ordinary background to great height is what he wants for every Nigerian. Yes, a Nigeria that will offer equal opportunities for everybody is what we actually crave for.
Sometimes when you are in a midst of another tribe, instead of looking at what you can offer or your potentials, they will frustrate you with all kinds of conspiracy, intrigues and blackmail just because you are not their tribesman.
I have seen and witnessed it. In another scenario, you can’t get in if you are of a different religion. It’s very discouraging! You find people that don’t even believe that we are one. Is this what unity is all about, that will bring about speedy development?
I have yet to see true unity in Nigeria. We should not be deceiving ourselves by paying lip service to it. I understand why Nigerians don’t take it serious when unity is mentioned; many must have had a bitter experience.
We must start correcting this impression in our various groups to restore trust and confidence. People find an environment associable and friendly in the midst of their tribesmen unlike in another tribe where you may find pronounced dishonesty, deceits, inconsistency and some level of uncertainty.
In another instance, you can see someone say to another from a particular tribe in a conversation, “You are the marginalised.” I shudder hearing this. Educated people that should be promoting unity would be so sentimental and tribalistic. Such a statement doesn’t go down well even if said jokingly.
A lot might pop up later from the mind of the one communicated to, like, “Is there really hope for me in this country?”; “Can I achieve my dreams here?” President Jonathan’s government is a blessing in this area. It is dethroning tribal dominance and marginalisation as well as creating an atmosphere for equal opportunities.
Every party in the confab should be allowed to say their mind: what they want. Are they realistic? Are there factors that could change their position? How do we arrive at a solution? We also look at how to carry everyone along and give them a sense of belonging; how to re-integrate any segment that feel marginalised and address some imbalances. All these will help in no small measure!
There is strength in diversity. But can we really move forward without addressing the anti-unity components? You can’t tell people not to agitate. It’s there already; some conditions have created it and must be worked upon.
Those factors causing agitation must be removed, once removed; agitation dies naturally. Who says we are not agreeable or can’t co-exist! People want to see sincerity and trustworthiness.
With these elements, even the offended can forgive. The bigger problem lies in neglecting them, not carrying them along. Even as an individual no one finds those attitudes funny.
“A no go area” might limit the conference with people going home with unresolved grudges thereby continuing their agitation. In that condition, have we really dialogued?
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