Rate this
0 (0 votes)
"I say to myself that Nigeria’s golden age is just a dialogue away"
0 out of 5 based on 0 user ratings

"I say to myself that Nigeria’s golden age is just a dialogue away"

Fierce debate in Nigeria about whether a national congress on its future should be convened shows that the country has a problem with political dialogue, according to Nnadozie Onyekuru, 23, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Maiduguri.

“So many of the great human dramas of our time are being played out on the Nigerian stage. For example, can a great country that is home to one in six Africans succeed in building a democracy amidst so much diversity and a past of so much trouble?

“Can a developing country, blessed with enormous human and natural resources, thrive in a global economy and lift all its people? Can a nation so blessed by the verge and vigour of countless traditions and many faiths be enriched by its diversity and not enfeebled by it?

“I believe the answer to all those questions can, and must be, yes.’ – Bill Clinton.

Nigeria’s former leader, Ibrahim Babangida, stirred the hornet’s nest at a recent awards ceremony when he outlined a list of no-go areas for public debate and called it the doctrine of settled issues.

Most of his settled issues, which included the indivisibility and capitalist orientation of Nigeria, resonated with my private beliefs but I wasn’t quite comfortable with the infallible status he ascribed to them. As a democrat, I believe that nothing should be binding on all except agreed on by the majority, by methods which are acceptable to all. And as an optimist, I am confident that even when dissenting voices are allowed to the satisfaction of expression, the case for a more prosperous and united Nigeria would succeed.

General Babangida’s comments came in the middle of a blame game over Nigeria’s multiple crises. At the height of tempers, some socio-politico leaders (mostly from the south) had started holding meetings and press conferences and releasing communiqués ahead of a supposed Sovereign National Conference. The idea of a Sovereign National Conference has been flying for some decades in Nigeria and some governments have hedged it off by organising cloned versions of the conference.

The champions of a SNC believe that a no-holds talkshow is the silver bullet to Nigeria’s problems while the equally passionate opponents believe that at the end of a SNC, a country named Nigeria would not be on the map of the world. With the advent of democracy, champions of the SNC now face additional opposition in the form of National Assembly members who will not tolerate any usurping of their constitutional responsibilities.

What the debate about SNC shows is that Nigeria also has a dialogue problem. The merits and demerits of the SNC should not be as important as the fact that Nigerians shouldn’t be paranoid of themselves. For not even harsh policies or dictators or armed groups can make a country as weak as when the people refuse to talk to themselves. The triumph of democracy is found in the opportunity to disagree and yet manage to reach a compromise that recognises the past, benefits the present and allows the future.

Today Nigerians can learn from their founding fathers who disagreed on a date for independence. Some said 1956, others said later and, finally, Nigeria settled on 1960. Our elders like to talk of that age. It wasn’t the age where there were no tribes or religion but it was the age of compromise. The age when a Christian mathematician, Chike Obi, gave his son a Muslim name, Mustafa. The age when an Igbo politician, Nnamdi Azikiwe gave his son a Yoruba name, Bamidele.

The age when, according to family legend, my Muslim grandmother danced for the Queen in 1956. It was in that age that policemen needed only batons to fight crime and few people had the ambitions of exit visas. Each time I am told of that age, I say to myself that we can restore it. I say to myself that Nigeria’s golden age is just a dialogue away.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

About me:

“I am a Nigerian student. I love books. I am young and restless with firm dreams that are only tempered by Christianity. I dream of a world where people, inspired by their common humanity, engage in a global wheel of ideas and do not use history as a tool for blame game but as a lesson for the future. In my spare time, I write stories, speeches and participate in activities that advance the respect of human dignity.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Comments

comments

Powered by Facebook Comments