By Jen Jibrin
Last night, I perused through major headlines with the Newspapers in Nigeria and discovered President Buhari’s Media Special Adviser, Femi Adesina, with a caption “IF NIGERIA DIES, HATRED KILLED HER.” This article published in Herald Nigeria might have struck deeply the hearts and minds of many readers.
Although one should have kept quiet without making a rejoinder due to the character involved. But national sentiment is enough impetus to make someone engage in national discourse to whomsoever involved.
Anyone could be invited to join the table when observing what Adesina said “If Nigeria dies, whether now or in the future, hatred killed her. How can people go about, bearing giant-sized grudges against their country, its leadership, against one another, and expect that country to live in peace and prosperity? It won’t happen. “When we don’t know who to hate, we hate ourselves,” as observed by a writer.”
No doubt, Nigeria has suffered hatred by her leadership and from the citizenry. Nigerian pattern of hatred is often blind, making the citizenry prone to believe propaganda, conspiracy theory and things that simply do not add up using common sense. Sadly, too many Nigerians fall victim to this reality, resulting in feelings of animosity or prejudice with little or no concrete proofs and evidence to justify their actions and opinion.
This kind of hatred that comes with connections from the top to the lower level, has wreaked havoc on our nation and continues to prevail until great awareness and enlightenment is achieved among Nigerian citizens. But should someone like Femi Adesina put the blame on the masses?
Prevailing on EndSARS, there are 6 factors to consider from the youth-led protest. One; there are non-partisan youths who do not belong to any political party. Two; there are both APC and PDP members who are patriotic enough to have joined the non-partisan in demanding for justice and accountability. Third; there are youths sponsored by the people in the disgruntled opposition to cause tensions. Fifth; there are sponsored thugs mostly from the ruling APC that went to disrupt a peaceful protest. Six; there are supporters or members of IPOB likely using the EndSARS to advance dangerous predefined motives.
The real hatred is the death toll on Nigerians from general insecurity issues, unemployment, and economic disparity in the country. This is the kind of hatred that exposed Nigerians to the EndSARS dangerous activism.
Of course, there’s hatred when an average Nigerian in public office can get richer, while a brilliant graduate has to consider finding a job that’s always not available or likely to use money and buy these jobs after begging family and relatives to raise substantial amounts in that regard.
It would have been good for Femi Adesina to remember that the real hate mongers mostly existed in the corridors of power; from a councilor, council chairmen, Assembly Members, Reps members, senators, ministers, governors, president and even the average victim of hatred, a Nigerian. The tendency for hatred among Nigerians and the responsibility of being a good or bad citizen, and as well as between a good and a leader comes in cycles.
In many decades of governance, political leaders and elites have become very detached from the masses. We now have career politicians and their loyalists having access to people presumed Representatives in Abuja and across the 36 states of the Federation. This is why popular trust in public institutions and officials have eroded. It’s fair to believe that Nigeria political legitimacy as an key indicator for the development and functioning of democracy is now being chipped in the stucco of hatred
Speaking of which, our youth enmeshed in an ENDSARS protest but the protest seems to matter only in Southern Nigeria. Where’s the north in this protest? Is the EndSARS protest a deliberate slogan helping demagogues to demonize the police system? Internet fraud happens mostly in the south while Boko-Haram, banditry and kidnapping happens in the north. SARS officers are people from Southern and Northern Nigeria. Most importantly, Nigeria society has two classes of people; Good and bad. The latter are never affected by the danger of living at the mercy of criminals in the category to which Femi Adesina belongs.
From any perspective, a crisis of confidence in Buhari’s presidency has intensified anger through EndSARS protests with many citizens expressing negative feelings about the country and doubts if the practice of democracy in Nigeria still serves their interests.
Looking through the lens of Adesina’s hypothetical thoughts and the missing points, Nigerian youths have done something that rarely happens in our country. We have now spotted the age of populism coming and will watch it come closer and closer before it hits Africa’s most populous nation.
Adesina’s comment should have relied upon the need for critical reforms across public institutions where life and property are protected, where human rights are protected, where leaders are elected in a free and fair election, where political parties compete in an open field, where political leaders behave themselves as servants and where the resident is held accountable to the Nigerian people.
Ultimately, political consumers in Nigeria are still asking questions about Buhari’s ‘Change Agenda’ in 2015 as well as the ‘Next Level’ in 2019. How is Buhari’s government responding to slow-burn economic fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic in the country?
While Adesina thinks about Hatred that kills Nigeria. He should also understand that the lives of the Nigerian people are currently under economic and security threats. Let Buhari’s media aide ponder again on the EndSARS youths activism and remember that it was Karl Marx who wrote: “History repeats first as tragedy and then as farce.”
Jen Jibrin , a public affairs analyst, writes from, Asokoro District Abuja.