Welcome to 2020.
Today marks the beginning of a New Year and a new decade. It’s with a sense of gratitude that billions of people on Earth crossed over to 2020. For me, the energy of gratitude has been building up from January 1st of last year and manifested in a beautiful display of cosmic fireworks in the early hours of the New Year.
There’s so much to be grateful for. For one, we are still here! We are not broken, we are bold. We are not beaten, we stand strong. We are not conquered, we are victorious.
Tough as it was, we made it through 2019 and we step into 2020 with a renewed zest for life. Without a doubt, we have many things to be grateful to the Almighty God for, not just in the past year or past decade, but because he has kept us from the beginning of our lives. We trust in him that what he has in store for us in the years to come is so much more glorious, so much greater, so much more graceful than all he has done so far.
For millions of people from Nigeria, they are marking the start of the year under the cloud of political uncertainty, divisions, and insecurity. The people of Nigeria have been brutalized for more than four years by a man without the character of leadership; a man with an acute sense of disconnection from the yearnings of Nigerians to live in a free and democratic society.
Is it any surprise? Muhammadu Buhari belongs to a generation of military generals who believe in a strong-arm dictatorship instead of democratic governance. There’s nothing from his education and experience that suggests that he has encountered, in a profound way, a body of thought that would cause a shift from his authoritarian mindset.
In 2015, when The Trent’s Editorial Board warned Nigerians of the dangers of a Buhari presidency, we cited “his low understanding of the economy, his poor administrative and interpersonal skills, his many comments and actions that portray him as a religious extremist and ethnic supremacist, his low education and feared lack of stamina required of a president of a diverse country like Nigeria”. The gravest warning, then (and now), was of the threat to Nigeria’s national security if “a man who has shown sympathies for terrorists in the past and is on record as sharing a twin ideology with Boko Haram is given access to the machinery of government”. We cautioned that terrorists must not come under federal protection in Nigeria.
Despite our intervention, Buhari was declared the winner of the flawed elections in which close to 20 million registered voters were deliberately denied their voting rights by the Attahiru Jega-led national electoral body. I believe it was by design that a disproportionate number of those people were from the Southern part of Nigeria, a region more likely to vote for Buhari’s opponent, the then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. These people were denied their right to pick their leader.
Tragically, my Editorial Board has been proven right.
And so, Buhari has demonstrated, without fail for 4 years and more, his divisive disposition marked by an overt intolerance of anybody who is not his native Fulani tribe or anyone who does not share his religious beliefs, political views, or stunted worldview. This president’s disdain for “the other” has pushed Nigeria further along the path of disintegration more than any single leader before him.
President Buhari has also turned out to be a notable modern-day human rights abuser. Under him, the United States of America has placed Nigeria on a special watch list for “severe violations of religious freedoms“. The International Criminal Court has at least two active investigations of ethnic and religious cleansing carried out by the Nigerian Army under his command. Human rights organisations like Amnesty International and Intersociety report that the terrorist groups Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen militia have killed more Nigerians under Buhari’s watch between June 2015 and today than the total killed between May 1999 and May 2015, when he took office. Nigeria’s borders have never been more open to invasion by foreign terrorists than it is today. Many are alarmed that Buhari may have expanded this threat to our national security by declaring an open border, visa-on-arrival policy for all Africans.
Buhari has violated court rulings at least 40 times since he came into office in 2015, according to an Amnesty International lawyer.
In the past 12 months, Buhari took his tyranny to a high crescendo with the abuse of the judiciary; the unlawful unseating of the country’s chief justice, Walter Onnoghen; and the installation of a stooge in his place; the use of guns and boots to rig a national election; the browbeating of the Supreme Court to refuse to hear a challenge to the tainted election that gave him a second term in office; and most recently, the violation of the fundamental human rights of a political challenger and critic, Omoyele Sowore.
There’s no doubt that Nigeria is worse off, in every fundamental way, under President Buhari. Don’t be fooled by the tyrant’s promise, in his New Year message delivered this morning to “stand down and obey the rule of law”. A leopard never changes its spots.
The divisive temperament of our president has brought the country’s temperature to a boiling point, and any more pressure, no matter how little, can cause the country to explode. But, we can stop this decline and reclaim our county. This is the reason why I write this letter to Nigerians as we enter the New Year.
My pastor is known for saying that every day is God’s day, while the day a person believes is his or her day. An African proverb says, “Every day is for the thief, while one day is for the owner of the house.” We have the power to change our country and change our world. We have to believe that we can, and we also have to activate our innate power to chart our individual destinies and collective destiny.
I have no doubt that Nigeria is a great country. Do you know how I know? Nigerians are great people. There’s practically no country on earth where you won’t find a Nigerian living and making a mark; neither is there any notable institution or field of human endeavor wherein a Nigerian has not excelled. We always find a way, as a people, no matter the adversity or resistance, to reveal our genius and rule our world. I believe the destiny of a nation is made up of the collective fortunes of the citizens. When a country is a mess, no citizen is exempt.
You may be feeling powerless and you may be asking, “I am just one person, what can I do to bring about change?” It’s okay to feel this way, but what’s not right is to internalize the fear, the chaos, and the confusions of our time. We have to realize that we are the great warriors of light for our generation.
We have to avoid falling into despondency, accepting this new order of fear as normal, and giving up on our collective God-given desire for freedom. We can’t quit. We have to stay in the game to win it. We have to wake up and address the modern-day issues staring us in the face. We have to defend our future, defend our great legacy.
Don’t think that the battle for the soul of Nigeria is for a particular kind of person; the passionate activist, the gifted politician, or the unrelenting freedom fighter. [If there’s any lesson to take away from the 2019 elections, it is that we can’t place our hope on the fly-by-night crowd that dominates opposition parties in Nigeria.] No, there’s no special kind of person for this battle. It’s for all of us and all of us have the God-given potential, and unlimited resource we can readily deploy to wage war against the forces of darkness that threaten to swallow us up.
Generations of Nigerians before us fought the fight of their time to secure a more just, prosperous, and progressive country. We have to honour their sacrifice, we have to remember their struggles, and we have to do what we have to do to hand over a better country to the generation that comes after us.
We all need to speak out against oppression. None of us can afford to tiptoe through these crises. In honouring the enormous sacrifice and labour of those who went before us, we will find inspiration in reading up on their history.
Last month, I read, in detail, the biography of Margaret Ekpo, one of the icons of Nigeria’s independence struggle. I said to myself, “She certainly didn’t come to play, she came to slay, and slay she did.” Looking at what Mrs. Ekpo and the other leaders of the struggle for independence achieved, it’s no doubt that they must have done something right.
One way we can honour their sacrifice is to stand together. We can’t let today’s freedom fighters stand alone. I don’t want to go into naming names, because I’ll certainly end up leaving out some names from the many courageous Nigerians who are taking action to defend our democracy… but, oh, well. We can’t let the opinion leaders of our time like Femi Fani-Kayode, Charles Ogbu, Shaka Momodu, Reuben Abati, Azuka Onwuka, and Abimbola Adelakun stand alone. We can’t let social change crusaders like Chidi Odinlaku, Ohimai Amanze, Oby Ezekwesili, Chinedu Ekeke, John Danfulani, Abdul Mahmud, Stephen Kefas, Emeka Umeagbalasi, Sega Awosanya, Inibehe Effiong, and Ndi Kato fight it alone. We must honour the memory of Stanley Nwabia who passed away at 43, and who, until his last breath in September, last year, was in the struggle to save Nigeria’s democracy.
We can’t let human rights activist Deji Adeyanju get beaten in the streets alone by this regime’s thugs as it happened in Abuja when he went to the National Human Rights Commission’s office to demand the freedom of journalists and human rights defenders incarcerated by this evil regime. We can’t leave the battle of confronting this tyrant to The Punch, The Trent, and a few other news platforms. We just have to come together and unleash the power of our collective consciousness. Divided we fall – and we will all fall under this regime if we don’t stand together for the freedom we believe in.
We don’t need this fascism, we need equality. We need peace. We need prosperity. We have to go down to the root cause of the problem and take it out from its source. The source of these divisions in the country is the politics of fear, the game of divide and conquer taught in the Nigerian military decades before and after our independence. We must liberate ourselves from the primal brutal legacy of military rule and solidify the foundations of our democracy.
We can’t leave the destiny of Nigeria to be charted by this violent dictator, who when the curtains come down, he hides away in a dark room feeling unloved, unwanted, unqualified, and unworthy. It is that feeling of inadequacy, that feeling of not being enough, of not belonging where he is, that manifests in the public as a desire to be a supreme maximum ruler over the rest of us.
To counter this evil, we have to move with a force greater. The good news for the warriors of the Light of Nigeria is that the Divine Creator is on our side. God has never been on the side of injustice, oppression, and fear. In the thick of the civil rights struggle in America in the 60s, revered leader, Martin Luther King Jnr said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” How true those words ring today.
Buhari has convinced himself that he is a god. But we know that there’s only One true God: The Eternal One who sculpts the Universe out of nothing, who manifests sound out of silence, and light out of darkness. The true God is the all-pervading, imperceptible, life-giver who was never born, who will never die. He is the Sovereign God, invincible ruler of the Universe. The Prince of Peace, the Great I AM. God with us, the Presence that can never be an absence.
The Divine Creator existed before Nigeria did. The truth is that God existed before Buhari was conceived. Since Buhari did not sit on the throne of the Divine when God said, “Let us create man in our image” then his nefarious agenda for this country will never prevail. Truth is that the only constant in the Universe is the Perfect, Timeless, Primal Source of our being; and His agenda of good, of peace, of prosperity, to give us our expected glorious end will prevail.
Nigerians have always won the battle for the soul of our country. Tyrants have never won, the people always did. This particular fascist president won’t win, and with God on our side, we are victorious. We have to be bold and courageous as we dig deep inside ourselves to unleash the creativity, the power, and the genius to set our beloved country free.
I want to thank you for sticking with us in 2019, our fifth year since we launched The Trent as an independent, courageous, and dependable voice for the people. My prayer for you in 2020 is that grace, peace, blessings, riches, honour, and courage will envelop you, and you will find the inspiration to create the positive change you desire in your life and our country.
Have an EPIC 2020.
Aziza Uko is a Nigerian publisher who is the Executive Editor of The Trent. She is an award-winning graduate of marketing and marketing communications professional with over 20 years of post-graduation experience. She is a writer, editor, and music lover. She can be reached on email HERE.