Nigeria Needs Reconfiguration not Disintegration — Dr. Ajia
By Alabidun Shuaib Abdulrahman
The Convener of the Nigerian Red Card Movement, Dr Abdulmumin Yinka Ajia has averred that for Nigeria to remain one great united entity, citizens have to discard their mutual distrust of one another and learn to work together towards a common and a collective goal.
Ajia, an entrepreneur and research scholar, made the call during the 2021 National Conference of the Nigerian Progressive’ Coalition in Abuja during the weekend.
In his words, “We must begin to break the barriers of mutual suspicion that pervades our land and realize that the average Igbo man or woman, Hausa, Fulani, Kanuri, Berom, Tiv, Igala, Yoruba and others desire the same thing for their children the same way that anyone would desire for theirs; safety, shelter, food, education, healthcare and a prospect for the future.
“These are not Hausa, Fulani, Kanuri, Yoruba, and Igbo sole preserve, these are universal goals for which any serious nation would desire and work towards for all her people”. He continued,
“The present administration has pledged to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in ten years, but this will not happen if Nigerians would not discard their mutual distrust of one another and learn to work together towards a common and a collective goal. If we acknowledge that we want the same things for our children, then the question should be: How do we work together to achieve those goals? This is the most consequential question that we face and one which we must urgently provide an answer to.
“Because Nigeria is in crisis and is at a critical juncture between disintegration and reconfiguration. At the Nigerian Progressives’ Coalition and the Red Card movement, we choose reconfiguration. A repurposing of the Nigerian nation to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”
He further stated that “As we move towards 2023, we should resolve here and now that we are only interested in a Nigerian leadership with rationally defensible policy programs not soundbites and ambiguities. We should also resolve here and now not to re-elect the class of Nigerians that have mismanaged our affairs thus far from the two major political parties into any political office. We make these resolutions not with force but through our voters’ cards. What we need to do is marshal our enormous voting bloc and vote for leaders who have our best interests at heart. Leaders who have demonstrated a lifetime of commitment to the Nigerian cause, leaders who can inspire us and show us the way”.
“We are over 200 million of us, we certainly can find especially among members of this generation, people who fits this mold. Those are the people deserving of our vote, those are the people we must elect to political offices across the land. Those are the people we must entrust with our lives and properties. For the other set of Nigerians who have mismanaged our commonwealth, our diversity, and whose actions and inactions have threatened our union and brought us to this abysmal level, I say we issue all of them across the board, a giant Red Card. We are tired of their mismanagement, their excuses, and their general incompetence. We thank them for whatever positive thing they have done for the nation, and we ask them to please step aside for a new generation of Nigerians to salvage what is left of the country.
“This new generation of Nigerians must recognize that we must rise to the existential crisis that Nigeria faces. One of which is whether we remain one united country or smaller pieces of it. The elephant in the room in the last twenty something years of our national discourse has been the issue of secession. The Indigenous People of Biafra led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has been the most vociferous in this regard. Of late, we have the Oduduwa agitators as well and of course, Mujahid Asari Dokubo’s agitation amongst others. The government of Nigeria missed the opportunity to engage in genuine conversations with these actors by merely treating their grievances with scorn and sometimes military action. We all know that both derision and might has not worked so far. So, we need to try another approach. One of the most effective ways by which we can argue for our continued unity is to point out that a balkanized Nigeria will serve no one’s interest and harm even its major protagonists.”
Ajia also made reference to the democracy day celebration, saying “Members of the Nigerian political elites and their enablers will gather here in the nation’s capital to celebrate democracy day. They will give beautiful speeches and score themselves high grades for superintending our democratic experience in the last 22 years. Lost in the midst of all these merry making is the fact that in Nigeria today, democratic culture is being eroded daily primarily through the actions of Nigeria’s career politicians. Through their actions, they have stifled the democratic space, disenfranchised their fellow citizens, and in many instances have impoverished the lives of millions of Nigerians.
He wondered how someone like Moshood Kashimawo Abiola can be celebrated without the spirit of democracy there-in.
“How can we genuinely celebrate Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Abiola Day without the spirit of democracy in it? What we are doing here today is more in the spirit of what Bashorun Abiola would have wanted and I join tens of millions of Abiola’s admirers’ home and abroad to celebrate a man who gave everything so that we can live in freedom and dignity no matter how imperfect our democracy has turned out to be,” he said.
In the same vein, Senator Shehu Sani, a human rights activist who was also one of the Speakers at the conference, further described Nigeria’s diversity as an asset and opportunity to make the country one of the best developed nations in the world. He however sounded a note of warning that such diversity could bring about the destruction of the nation if mismanaged.
He implored those in authority to learn to accept criticisms and embrace ideas from people who necessarily are not within the corridors of power.
“The nation that is called Nigeria today is in a crisis. The country is sick. Let us not deceive ourselves. Bandits in the northwestern part of Nigeria are unleashing mayhem, killing people, kidnapping people, extorting ransom, making it difficult for farmers to go to their farms and forcing people to sell their properties to pay ransom to bandits,” he lamented.
“There is no doubt about it. People in authority can be averse to criticism. We should not forget and it is ironic that people who protested years ago are against protest; people who spoke the truth years ago are also against people who are speaking the truth today. Let us be frank to ourselves. Our diversity is wealth, it has the opportunity and the platform to make this country great. It can also be a source for our own personal destruction as a people.
“This forum like many others that have taken place in this country, should be a place where we should speak truth to power and also speak truth to our selves. Government should learn to adapt to the unstoppeable current of information technology and not to be against it.”
Shehu wondered why criticisms that are not favorable to the people are seen meant to bring down the government.
“Government should learn to tolerate criticisms, government should learn to accept and embrace ideas from people who necessarily are not within the corridors of power. Solving the problems of this ocuntry is beyond partisanship. It is beyond parochial interest, it is clear to those in the position of authority and others that people who are leading are not magicians and are also not messiahs.We do not have a moses to take us out of our problems, each and every one of us is responsible for fixing Nigeria”
“We are better together as one. Justice, equity and treating all citizens with sense of fairness and justice can keep us as one.
“The people of this country must keep alive their responsibility of defending their rights. If we ban twitter today, we may end up banning Facebook tomorrow and Instagram, then all the social media platforms because people will still use every platform to express their views.
“Should we be put to the dark ages because the views that are expressed are not palatable to us? Because sometime what government do is to try to say that the truth we say is simply an attempt to destroy a country, while they are simply trying to preserve their power”.
Shehu frowned at the Federal Government over the recent ban of Twitter in Nigeria.
He warned against suppressing the freedom of Nigerians, noting that it is dangerous clamping down on protesters, especially as peace protests is a part of the democratic process.
The Conference titled “Masses Awakening and Elite Patriotism; The Search for a Better Nigeria” was graced by several members of the public as well as student union members among others.