In 1633, famous astronomer and physicist, Galileo Galilei, was arraigned before the Holy office of the Roman Catholic Church; the most powerful authority of his time. He had been asked to recant his belief over the discoveries he made that the earth and other planets orbited around the Sun, contrary to the church’s own belief. Because he did as they ordered, instead of an instant death sentence, the church threw Galileo into house arrest until his death.
But as he stepped out of the inquisition, he muttered, ‘and yet it moves.’ Galileo believed that the truth was truth.
In our own time, the truth also remains the truth. The recent ethno-political activities in this entity of ours make me want to speak up on one glaring fact about Nigeria: This society is a big illusion.
On Wednesday, 24th of February 2010, when I woke up from bed, went to the website for Nigerian news and saw the attractive caption, ‘Yar’Adua Returns…,’ I knew no elation like the one I felt at that moment. But as I gulped the information down with an unknown voracity, my jaws suddenly sagged.
One thing that jumped into my mind as I managed to read the news of the circumstances surrounding Nigeria’s, world’s most populous black entity’s president’s exit and return, was comparison: Where on this earth had such a thing happened in this twenty-first century of mankind? I didn’t find anywhere. Even in home Africa, the issues of the ill health that led to the eventual death of president Mwanawasa of Zambia never got to this extent. Why Nigeria?
Then it comes to subject of ethno-religious crisis hounding Nigeria since its independence. We keep losing a wealth of human resources from this particular irresolvable issue. I could recall that I almost lost my own life in the same Jos, during such outbreak in 2002. Yet those who rule us can’t do anything about it.
Unfortunately, Nigerian politicians, past and present, have been so befuddled by their want of wealth, by the concern with their own personal vanities, that they refused to see the onus on them to redirect the cause of the building of this man-made homeland in such a way that the fragmented ethnic entities inhabiting it would feel safe and equally represented. Just for unjust reasons, the few men and women who feel they own the control of Nigeria and its wealth of resources have opted to leave the entity’s constitution – an important part of the skeleton for a country’s wellbeing and development – to remain as pristine as our colonial masters had kept it.
As a result, what are we witnessing in the society whose rulers claim that it is the chief security officer and peace builder in Africa? Insecurity, continued strife and economic imbalances, leading to the impoverishment of the entire Nigerian populace. It is regrettably laughable the way the people who rule Nigeria assume unwarranted responsibilities on the continent, whereas her own citizens are dying enmass.
All the other African rulers, and the very few of them who could be addressed as leaders, know this. They know that the impure manner by which Nigeria is ruled makes it the reverse of what its rulers claim. They have seen all that are happening to their big brother, but not every one of them has the guts to voice it out. Muammar Gaddafi has decided to.
Much as I do not approve of most of the proclamations made by Muammar Gaddafi, I simply cannot fail to admit one truth when told. The problem is just that it is quite baffling that the people who rule us don’t first of all sit down and sober over a statement or statements made by individuals or other governments and institutions before they fire back. The members of the parliament have hit back, branding Muammar Gaddafi as a mad man, then recalling the ambassador of Nigeria to Libya. Does that end the internal saga inflicting open wounds on the Nigerian citizenry?
I remember as a youth, during my secondary school days, the experience I had with a mad man from my neighbourhood. The man knew that I had been selected as one of the prefects to lead the students of the entire college. He told me in a plain language that I was heading to fail in my final senior school certificate exams if I did not put my position as a prefect behind and work harder. I recalled that I took the words beyond that of a mad man, rather that of God, and worked harder to come out with flying colours.
To Nigerian rulers I say, a mad man has spoken, but your actions and reactions are unintelligent. You have to reform your collective actions if the existence of this one entity called Nigeria is destined to continue. You must drop power sycophancy and irrational behaviours. Please let us watch USA and the UK, they are man-made countries, yet they are the best in the world. Watch how they are moving and follow their developmental footsteps. Watch South Africa.
I am happy, though, that amongst the number of government officials I heard their voices on the Gaddafi case, one Patricia Ete, a member of the parliament, sounded reasonable. She emphasized the need for them, the members of parliament, to view the comment as a wakeup call for them who rule Nigeria. I am happy that, amongst the many who refuse to reason, a few could be counted doing otherwise.
In 2005, when a report from the US, predicted that Nigeria would break up in 2015 if it continued the way it was going, tongues had lashed, but no measures had been taken. Since then how had it been? Had there been changes for positive? None. Now is Nigeria resurrecting or dying? We need to judge ourselves.
Coming to facts, what would happen if Muammar Gaddafi decides to hit back by throwing more of the citizens of Nigeria illegally resident in his country? Have the people who rule us thought about that? I know they would say it’s none of their concerns, but have they thought of the kind of increased level of insecurity this would cause in a country where things don’t work well? Again, do the rulers of Nigeria understand that the 6 million peopled Libya they call its head a mad man consumes 22 billion KWh while Africa’s chief security, with 150 million population, consumes 19 billion KWh? Are you in doubts? Go to CIA world fact books. It is a big sting to us.
To conclude my views, I want to ask if the rulers of Nigeria knew what happened to Galileo’s truth. In 1992, three hundred and fifty nine years later, Pope John Paul II thanked Galileo’s intuition as a brilliant physicist: The Catholic Church formally admitted that Galileo’s views on the solar system are correct.
While Galileo’s own truth remained a thing of nature, the illusory state of freedom in Nigeria, could, fortunately, be corrected, if the entire distinctive entities and the people who rule us sacrificed sectional and individual benefits, so as to create a sustainable environment for generations to come. And by so doing, I will be happy that the truth which I tell, based on its present condition, that Nigeria is an illusion, would be proved wrong.
Christopher Chibueze Onyekuru