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ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS A PROSPEROUS AND PEACEFUL COUNTRY

Monday, December 18, 2017

/ by Mykebou

By Fenny Fwa


Notwithstanding the 3 years of bloody civil war, there was a country called Nigeria that was prosperous and peaceful, where violence was relatively alien and the citizens were living in peace and harmony.

Once upon a time, there was a country where the economy was booming. There were jobs everywhere. The industrial, commercial and agricultural sectors were highly productive. We produced local textiles for local consumption. Food related industries were booming. About 60% of the cars used were locally assembled. We were leading World wide in the production and exportation of palm oil, groundnuts, cotton and rubber. These commodities fetched us substantial revenue internally and externally which took care of our development needs.

Once upon a time, the transportation sector was effective and efficient. Available roads were good and smooth. The available rail transport was serving the purpose it was meant for: haulage of goods and as well as providing affordable means of transport for mass movement of people. Water transport was heavily patronized particularly conveying goods. The local Aviation industry had problems with efficiency and poor management, yet we had hundreds of planes ran by government owned company known as Nigeria airways. It was operating in all the nooks and crannies of the country and Nigeria flag was proudly flown in the major cities of the world.

Once upon a time, there was a country where we were proud of our security system. Arguably we had the best armed forces in Africa after Egypt and were trained in the best western tradition, performing wonderfully locally and internationally. It professionally ended the civil war, subdued arm insurrection such as matatsine religious uprising in the North and other pockets of internal rebellion. Intentionally the feat performed by our soldiers in other nations were legendary. They were in Congo in early 1960s and contributed in restoring peace order there. They were also in Eastern European countries that were engaged war of attrition. Nigeria armed forces were in the forefront in restoring peace in those troubled nations. Our police did also excellently well in United Nations peace missions whenever they were called to render service.

Once upon a time, there was a nation that despite its multi ethnic and multi religious configuration, it was able to, at some point, surmount these odds and got it right politically. General Yakubu Gowon a Christian minority from majority Muslim North ruled this country and his vice Joseph Edet Wey who was the chief staff supreme Headquarters was a Christian from South South. At the .executive council level, chief Obafemi Awolowo a Christian from the south West was the vice chairman of the executive council. Despite the preponderance of Christian in the most important leadership positions, there was no protest or complain or acts of violence from the Muslims. They governed well, peacefully and smoothly. And this went on for 9 years. Similarly, Gen Muhammadu Buhari and late Tunde Idiagbon all Muslims from the North presided over the affairs of this nation as Head of state and Deputy Head state and there was neither protest or violence from the Christians. If you will say these were military regimes what of the voided June 12 election of 1993 where Late Chief MKO Abiola and Alh Babagana Kingibe both muslims, who were both presidential and vice presidential candidates respectively, swept the polls adjudged the freest and fairest election ever conducted in the country and yet there was no protest from the Christians since they participated in electing them. In the same vein and as the result of injustice meted to the South West with the nullification of the June 12 election, the Muslim North spearheaded the sponsoring of two presidential candidates from the two major parties and both from the South West and both Christians. OBJ emerged the president and Olu Falae was roundly defeated. There was no presidential candidate from the North.

Once upon time, there was a country where it’s educational system was producing highly educated pupils and students at all the three levels of education. Public schools were competing favorable with private schools. Our universities were citadel of learning. Our graduates were good and our universities were recognized internationally and one could secure admission with WAEC certificate and university certificate in major universities of world.

Once upon a time, adherents of major religions and all ethnic groups were living in peace and harmony, devoid of altercation, bickering and violence. We were our brothers keepers. Merit was the criteria for being elevated to a position. I remember despite my secondary school the then GSS, Maiduguri( now Government College) had a population of about 80% Muslim,yet in my first, second and third year in the school, both the Head boys and their Deputies were all Christians. In my last year in the school, a Yoruba and a Christian was posted as the principal, transferred from Bauchi, an equally dominant Muslim town. I equally remember missionary schools in Numan where Muslims were admitted and provided conducive atmosphere to practice their religion and were exempted from all Christians religious activities. I remember with relish when Christians and Muslims jointly celebrated Christmas and Sallah in the entire Numan federation now constituting 5 local Government Areas.

Once upon a time, I saw height of religious tolerance In my locality. My father the paramount ruler of our chiefdom in 1972 mobilized the mbula community who constituted more than 90% of the population being Christians to participate in the building of the first jumaat Mosque with the minority Muslims. He provided the funds. I equally saw height of religious tolerance where the late Lamido Aliyu Mustapha allocated land free to catholic and LCCN to build churches inside the Yola city- the seat of the Emirate. He equally gave hundreds of hectares of land to LCCN in Mbaba where they constructed their seminary.

Now the narrative has changed and turned to the worse. Peace is now a mirage and conflicts resulting to violence are perpetually perpetrated all over the nation with no exception. Nigeria is violence personified. From militancy in the South South to insurgency in North East, kidnapping, armed robberies and ritual killings in North and South.

From a country that is self sufficient in production and generated abundant revenue from agriculture for its development to a nation dependent on food imports to feed itself with the attendant consumption of its scarce foreign exchange. From a nation that locally produced its clothes, automobile and processed food and beverages to a nation that virtually imports all manufactured goods, including even tooth pick! Thanks to people like Dangote, and few others that are changing the narrative by investing heavily in industrial, commercial and agricultural ventures.

The worse retardation is in the field of security where one could say we are in a state of anarchy and chaos and gradually getting to a stage of a failed state because of perpetual violence occasioned by militancy, insurgency, kidnapping, ritual killings armed robberies etc. unlike in the past where our security agencies could easily nip these uprisings in the bud, but these have now assumed lives of their own and appear are unresolvable. This is because ethnic and religious considerations have to taken centre stage in recruitment and elevation in the armed forces and in paramilitary outfits. Corruption has also infiltrated the management of these outfits to the extent that funds meant for motivation of personnel , procurement of armaments are perpetually embezzled, living them not properly kitted and poorly armed. The consequences of these are the inability our security outfits to quell simple uprisings and general indiscipline which have made our fighting force to engage in some unwholesome acts.

Our education system especially in public schools have become so substandard that we are just churning half baked educated people and that had imparted negatively in our projects and programmes. Because of the substandard nature of our educational system, our trained experts in all fields have largely been failures.

To say we are a divided nation and each nationality is at each other’s throat is an understatement. Everything points towards disaster and only our selves can free ourselves from this self inflicted woes to ourselves. If we can only imbibe and put in to practice this Biblical injunction which is applicable to all faiths that worship the living God. It’s found in 2 chronicles 7: 14 “. If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will heal the land.”

It’s left for us to either choose to do that is necessary to be a prosperous and peaceful nation like others or be a failed state such as Afghanistan, Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo with the attendant perpetual violence, loss of lives and properties. The latter is not an option. We must change for good.
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