By FEMI ADESINA
Nigeria is 61 years old as an Independent country. And so what? What’s the big deal about it? That is what some people will say, arguing that all we have seen is flag independence, and no true emancipation for the citizens.
There’s a big deal about every landmark or milestone we reach in life, because we may as well not have made it to that point. We could have fallen by the wayside, or vanished like smoke. The world owes nobody a living. Not individuals, not countries. That is why the Good Book enjoins us to number our days, “that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12).
The cynic, sceptic or scoffer may say what is there to celebrate about Nigeria, with all its troubles. A country yet to realize its potentials at 61, an adult condemned to a perpetual life of crawling. They will mention the negatives: massive insecurity, insurrection agitations, millions of jobless youths, struggling economy, humongous corrupt acts, and others, which have all characterized national life.
Yes, you can dwell so much on the storm, that you never get to enjoy the rainfall and its soothing effects. Nigeria is also the land of a resurgent economy, with the indices looking up and promising to get better. It is a country where stealing has become corruption and graft is being robustly fought, and it is a polity that is wiping out enemies of its soul, cleaning up the forests, cities, towns taken over by terrorists and bandits, with the prospect of restoring peace at the shortest possible time. It is the land of renaissance in infrastructure: rail, roads, bridges, airports, and others.
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Sadly, some people do not want peace for Nigeria. They do not only promote but celebrate rupture of tranquility, repose or serenity. They are glad when our troops suffer reversals on the battlefield. When they make advances, giving enemies of our country bloody noses, they pretend not to see. But when bombs go off, killing and maiming innocent people, when bandits sack villages, or invade schools and abduct students, they quickly shout ‘security architecture,’ and alleged incompetence. They trumpet negatives, and close their eyes to positives. And in the blind search for power and relevance, they even subterraneanly bankroll terrorists.
Some others, with giant sized grudges against the polity, plot to dismember it. But I ask: who does not have one grievance or the other against Nigeria? Is there any ethnic group that does not have one angst or the other? But if we have worries or perturbation, is then the next option a pulling down of the roof? Do we crash the superstructure? Do we turn the country into a tailspin, simply because we are disaffected? Do we break the eggs of the chicken, because the bird upended our medicine pot?
As we celebrate Nigeria at 61, I join William Cowper, who said, “England, with all thy faults, I love thee still; my country.” Nigeria, with all thy faults, I love thee still; my country.
I don’t know how it is with you, if you are a frequent traveler. The best I enjoy a foreign land is one week, after which I begin to miss good, old Nigeria. The smell. The flora. The fauna. The cuisine. The sense and sensibility. I pray I never get sentenced or consigned to life abroad, wittingly or unwittingly. Nigeria, with all thy faults, I love thee still; my country.
Lack of peace seems to be the greatest bane of Nigeria today, despite wonderful showing in many other areas. Peace has turned tail, and fled. But I venture to say that with the resolve of good people, and the commitment of government, Nigeria will yet know peace. If the country unravels, as Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said recently, we shall all be losers. Nobody gains. Nigeria will, therefore, have peace. It must have peace. As the Hausa phrase goes, it is Lafiya Dole. Peace by Force. We must have it, and we will get it. And we don’t have to necessarily spill blood for it. It is the enemies of peace that will lose and must lose out.
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A country of about 200 million people, troubled by a sprinkling. Will they succeed? Never. We fought a war of unity, in which about two million people perished. Did we do all that, only to eventually allow ourselves to be splintered by people with blinkered ideologies? Never! Nigeria will have peace, and must have peace, even as she turns 61. It’s Lafiya Dole. Peace by Force. And I say again, we can achieve it without bloodletting, if some forces let reason prevail.
I am happy that the Good Book supports me. “Now, may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” (2 Thessalonians, 3:16). Peace by Force. Lafiya Dole. Even the Holy Bible supports it. Peace at all times, and in every way. We will have it. The higher powers back it. Therefore, there’s no room for caterwauling, endless wailings on what has not been done, ignoring the lot that has been accomplished. Nigeria will have peace. By Force. That is my prayer for the country at 61. Amen.
…Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity