As we await the declaration of the election results, may I appeal for calm and self-control? Of course, the result won’t be what some would have loved it to be, but resorting to riots and violent protests won’t do anyone any good.
We have witnessed more than enough waste of lives and properties as it is; innocent citizens have been permanently maimed for life, sent to their early graves, and/or rendered homeless all in the name of politics, naira and fuel scarcity. Do we ever take a moment to reflect on how they and/or their families feel? Has anyone ever tried to imagine how he/she would feel if it had happened to him/her?
How much longer are we going to allow ourselves to be stirred up to anger against each other? How much longer are we going to be incited to fight and make enemies of each other? How much longer are we going to allow ourselves to be paid off to take each other’s lives, all in the name of politics? Before things get out of hand, noble people, let me sound one gentle reminder: Politicians bad-mouth and tear each other down in public, they point out each other’s flaws and bid the public beware of the other all in the name of winning support; yet they are best of friends behind locked doors. They spend quality time together and build relationships with each other out of sight of the general public while they set the people at each other’s throats. And at the end of it all, whom do we blame for allowing ourselves to be manipulated to satisfy the cravings of another?
Noble people, may we remember that we are all human beings with feelings, desires and dreams. May we remember that we, even our fellow kinsmen who do not share the same ideology, want a better life for ourselves and our loved ones? That better life can only be attained by constantly struggling together to find good leaders, not by grappling for each other’s throats at the slightest opportunity in the name of politics. It is a goal that can only be achieved by standing and working together, trying hard to find the path which now lay obscured. The more we talk of ethnic loyalties, religious differences and opposing political ideologies, the more we fight and take up arms against each other in the name of these natural diversities, and the further we drive ourselves from the realization of our goal. A new Nigeria is POSSIBLE, but that POSSIBILITY can only become a REALITY if we are willing and ready to shun sentiments and forge ahead with being realistic. And one fundamental reality we have to admit and accept is the fact that we can’t all think or believe the same thing; we can’t all see things the same way. It is childish immaturity to try to force others to see things the same way you do. There is certainly a way you can make others see, accept and appreciate your views, but certainly not through the use of force or violence. That has never worked, and it can never work.
While peaceful demonstrations form an integral part of fundamental human rights, it has become obvious that many do not realize nor understand the difference between peaceful demonstrations on one hand and riots/violent protests on the other. Even though I am ready and willing to be part of a peaceful demonstration for a just cause, but it has become so scarce nowadays to see peaceful demonstrations in Nigeria as opposed to riots and violent protests which leave untimely deaths, destruction of properties and hearts heavy with grief in its wake. Is that the road that will take us to the New Nigeria we say we want?
Really, in the words of Asa, “There Is Fire On The Mountain”, and if we persist in the habit of name-calling, tearing each other down and taking each other’s lives at the slightest provocation, “One day the river will overflow, And then we’ll have nowhere to go, And we will run, run, Wishing we had put out the fire!”
May we remember that even the West never had it rosy at the onset? If you have ever read Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale Of Two Cities, Treasure Island, or The Mayor Of Casterbridge and you can imagine the struggles of the societies and life painted therein, you will understand that nothing comes easy, only with persistent, collective efforts to make things work, including with regards to finding the right leader to lead the way!
The change YOU want begins with YOU! Say NO to manipulation, NO to violence, and NO to murder!
Solomon Okelola is a disability rights advocate, he writes from Lagos.