Today is June 12. Not a few Nigerians recognize the significance of this date in Nigeria’s political history. Meditating on June 12 and looking back to the future, especially in view of the prevalent separatist objectives of neo ethnic nationalism across the country, my humble opinion is that Nigeria is being haunted by multiple ghosts of INJUSTICE in various forms, among which are constitutional injustice, electoral injustice, judicial injustice, structural injustice, etc. The selfish, sectional and ephemeral benefits of these injustices have imprisoned our collective conscience over the years and we have continued to gloss over the real issues.
Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, said a long time ago that justice is the first condition of humanity. He and a few other courageous Nigerians repeatedly called for a Sovereign National Conference or a Conference of Nigeria’s Ethnic Nationalities, as an antidote to divisive tendencies, knowing that injustice can never be permanently or conclusively swept under the carpet. Among the few courageous Nigerians was Chief Bola Ige, who once asked two fundamental questions: “Do we really want to live together as Nigerians? If the answer is yes, under what conditions?” Till date, these fundamental questions are left unanswered as successive governments continue to confuse judgement with justice, pretending that all is well with the Nigerian polity. The results of this unforgiveable negligence are now threatening, more than ever, to consume us.
In recent times, various ethnic nationalist organisations in Nigeria have made solemn declarations either aimed at expelling those they consider ‘stranger elements’ from their territories or to issue conditions under which they would cohabit peacefully with such ‘strangers’. Evidently, Nigeria no longer makes sense to its constituent elements. Yet the Federal Government is watching, obviously enjoying what may appear to be a comedy of errors, and waiting until this comedy mutates into a full blown theatre of war, before taking realistic steps to arrest a potentially tragic trend.
June 12 does not only signify our painful breakthrough to the era of enduring democracy as a country. It also signifies, perhaps more importantly, the monument of traumatic injustices we have had to endure as a people, the ghosts of which have now risen for our ultimate atonement.
Over the years, Nigerian governments at the centre, in their unrealistic quests to actualize true National Rebirth, have experimented with various ‘nationalist’ schemes such as the NYSC, which have all been grossly ineffective under the massive and expansive weight of INJUSTICE. Isn’t it clear that we need more than just mere window dressing to achieve a united and peaceful Nigeria?
A lie dressed in golden robes can never replace truth. Truth has a life span that is beyond time. Even when suppressed, it retains its powerful force of gravity…an unstoppable, multi-dimensional centripetal force that never stops pulling on our conscience until we come to atonement. And then our souls are excorcised and we may once again live in harmony with nature, with renewed energy to rediscover our path to cosmic dominion. Truth is the matrix of human perfection.
Thus as we commemorate another June 12, we must truthfully answer those deep questions posed by Chief Bola ige: “Do we really want to live together as Nigerians? If the answer is yes, under what conditions?”. It is therefore an urgent task for the Federal Government to convene a Conference of Ethnic Nationalities for the purpose of finding truthful answers to the two questions above.
Let us remember that it has been said several times that those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable. Again, one who genuinely demands for his rights does not essentially provoke a conflict. The person who provokes a conflict is he who refuses to accede to such a genuine demand.
As we commemorate June 12, let us also remember the primary matyrs of that struggle, Chief MKO Abiola and his wife, Kudirat. May their souls and the souls of other matyrs of democracy continue to rest in perfect peace. And may God continue to comfort their families.
Nigeria has a great future, if and only if we do the right thing.