I watched a fascinating video sent to me via WhatsApp a few days ago. Locked in battle in the Savannah plain were two male impalas in their prime. The aim was to win the right to mate with the females who were watching closely. Suddenly, from a distance something was approaching at first slowly and then with urgency. The female impalas noticed this, raised the alarm and took flight.
However, the males were so engrossed in the battle that they failed to heed the warning or even notice that they females they were trying so hard to impress had fled. Just as soon as they became aware of the approaching danger, it was too late. A lioness sprung and grabbed one by the scruff of the neck and took its life. The message of the video could not be any clearer, when we fight each other, we fail to see the larger picture and by the time we notice what is going on, it is, or may be, too late.
Sorry State of the Nation
I could not but ponder on the state of our nation, Nigeria, after watching the video as it clearly paints the picture of what is actually wrong with us. Rather than coming together to build a great black nation, we are busy fighting each other with the sole aim of cornering positions and resources while ensuring our brothers lose and we win at all cost. Our new and prevailing anthem is: “my tribe or my religion is better than yours”.
Whilst we engage in this needless exercise, we are blind-sighted until the enemy creeps upon us in the form of hunger, rising crime-rates, kidnapping, blood-letting, tribalism and sectionalism, rising unemployment, Boko Haram insurgency etc. The result is a sick and dying nation in the midst of abundance and plenty.
It is truly heartbreaking to tune in on the television or radio, or to log onto the internet or pick up the newspaper and read or see the wanton destruction of the lives and property of Nigerians by Nigerians. More Nigerian lives are being taken by Nigerians than by foreigners. While most nations of the world live in fear of attack by a foreign enemy, we Nigerians are afraid of being attacked by Nigerians. Rather than being our brothers’ keepers, we are our brothers’ killers. We have essentially become our worst enemies.
My neighbor hitched a ride with me last week and explained that she just came back from the burial of her brother in Akwa Ibom, who was killed by kidnappers almost two years ago. It took this long to bury him because the kidnappers left a message that they would not allow the burial to take place unless the ransom they killed him for was paid.
So, they had to wait until there was a semblance of security and peace before he could be buried. You hear such tales and you are left wondering; what kind of country is this? Is this what our founding fathers fought for? You hear such tales and you wonder if indeed there is any hope for this nation.
Rather than being our brothers’ keepers, we are our brothers’ killers. We have essentially become our worst enemies.
With our nation heading on a dangerous trajectory and nation bleeding out, it is alarming to see that nothing is being done to heal the nation by our leaders. Instead of coming together to fight the common enemy such as disease, unemployment, mediocrity etc, politicians, religious leaders and ethnic gladiators are having a field day making inflammatory statements daily, sectionalizing appointments and opportunities and stroking the already dire situation, oblivious of the damage they are causing.
Rather than come together to build a great nation for our children and children’s children, we fight one another, and while we do so, we are blinded to the fact that citizens of other nations are working on putting men on Mars. While we fight one another, others are researching bombs and weapons they can use to subjugate us or wipe us out completely should they so choose. While we fight one another, others are making mind blowing technological advances. While we fight one another, other nations illegally bunker our crude oil and sell the refined petroleum products back to us at cutthroat prices.
While we fight one another, we have become the butt of jokes of smaller African countries. While we fight one another, the economic development in the country has become so stunted that we have not been able to generate enough opportunities to employ our growing population effectively. While we fight one another, we have sadly become the hunger capital of the world. While we fight to the finish, our potential to be the greatest black country the world has ever seen is being eroded day by day.
The Way Forward
Enough is enough. We cannot afford to continue on this dangerous path or Nigeria will be sadly no more. We need to stop fighting one another but rather fight for one another. It is time to stand, watch and confront the approaching enemy together and it is not only the job for the politicians, religious leaders, and teachers; but all of us.
It is time to begin to tackle and address basic problems which divide us rather than unite us. We must come together to proffer solutions to the problems that beset us as a nation by ensuring every hand is on deck to pull us back from the precipice. We can together defeat Boko Haram, hunger, HIV AIDS epidemic, prejudice, tribalism, kidnapping, crime, hate etc. We can together make Nigeria prosperous and strong. We can together be the hope of every black man, lead and change the world, harness cosmic energy, conquer space, and do unbelievable things.
We will only achieve this when we begin to see ourselves as partners in destiny and not just as ethnic jingoist. We will achieve this when we recognize that every Nigerian is important and ensure we do everything within our power to make every Nigerian feel that way.
We will achieve this when we work seriously at building a common national identity, common citizenship, and national vision grounded on the concepts of equity and equality, fairness, social and racial justice. We will achieve this and reach our full potential when we cooperate with one another rather than when we do so on our own.
We can and will build a great, safe and prosperous Nigeria and it starts with you and it starts with me. Let’s get the job done together.
Benzak Uzuegbu is an estate surveyor and valuer who lives and works in Lagos.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.