Seventeen years ago, the well-endowed nation, Nigeria, chose the path of journeying towards the route of genuine democracy and the smooth transition from one democratic government to another. This became a more visible reality a year ago now, when transition was made from the rule of the nation by one party to the governance by another. Thus, the continuous work towards the realisation of the dream of taking Nigeria to greater heights and holistic development came to fall in the hands of the opposition party since May 29, 2015.
However, the journey these past 366 days plus could be described as bumpy, scary, uncertain, tumultuous, painful, and seemingly unpredictable, thus making the future look bleak, with confidence in the new government fluctuating back and forth in many citizens. This situation is worsened by the crash in the economy; the very sharp nose-dive of the price of oil in the world market; the sudden hike in the price of fuel; the persistent low value of the naira in comparison to major currencies of the world; the numerous breaking news, media reports, and endless court cases of various loot and plunder of the nation’s wealth by past public servants, that run into trillions, billions, and millions of US Dollars and other foreign currencies, among others.
In consequence, great caution is called for, lest the famous dictum used to describe Nigeria: ‘giant of Africa’ becomes ‘dwarf of the world’. All these are so bastardizing to majority of the people of Nigeria, that serious attention and appropriate action are called for. There is need to prevent all forms of possible negative effects on the people, that could range from psychological trauma, physical ailments of all kinds, and moral decadence of all gravity, as people seek every kind of means to make ends meet.
PMB and his government are thus called to urgent action to alleviate the degrees of difficulties, sufferings and frustration of Nigerians. They need to prove themselves true friends of Nigeria and that their policies, actions, and decisions are based on sincerity of purpose. There is need to practically convince Nigerians that the government works and takes decisions influenced by the wisdom of God/Allah/the Creator, and is a proof of one with a sense of direction. The state of things today also calls for genuine collaboration of all stakeholders for the rebirth of Nigeria. Majority of the citizens yearn for assurance and unflinching promise that their aggravating pains, inconveniences, hardships, and challenges, will not go on forever, just as it will not be in vain. But will lead to a lasting, meaningful and authentic progress of the nation, to the benefit of every citizen.
The incumbent government and the beautiful people of Nigeria should therefore work for the immediate development, among us all, of a genuine, trustworthy, and patriotic spirit of solidarity and care for one another, at all levels and sector of society. That is, we need to become one another’s keeper, so that no one feels alone, uncared for, insignificant to the nation, useless and crushed by the neo-challenges rising up by the day, to the point of doing harm to oneself or others. To positively avert such costly and dehumanising reaction to the neo-situation in Nigeria today, each citizen needs to take genuine interest in the welfare of their neighbour.
Hence, more emphasis should be placed on what unites, builds up, and encourages one another than the opposite. It means, Churches, Mosques, and other religious places which are dear to the people, need to become true places of support and encouragement for each and every member. There is need for religious leaders and ministers of God, in such places of divine encounter, to give genuine attention, reliable care and unbiased love to each and every member, both during and after worship. Thence, all forms of deception, giving of false hopes, making of fake promises, and prescribing unrealistic solutions to concrete problems should be avoided, as to do otherwise will lead to disastrous consequences for both individuals in particular and the whole nation in general.
In addition, and as a matter of urgency, President Muhammadu Buhari and his government, as it journeys into its second year, need to seek for concrete ways to reduce the tension, hardship, and suffering of the people, by seeking ways to bring them succour. There is need to ‘comfort my people!’, ‘comfort them!’ This involves bringing social amenities to the reach of all in schools, communities, estates, barracks, villages, churches, mosques, towns, cities, and all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, the land so richly blessed by God/Allah, the Almighty Creator. It also calls for selfless effort and unrelenting commitment to the actualisation of the common good, guided by obedience to the Almighty Creator, authentic application and correct observance of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the loving expression of sincere concern for the progress and wellbeing of all fellow citizens, fellow Nigerians, and fellow democracy-evolving country people.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
• Rev. Fr. Dr Raphael Igbaoyinbo is a priest of the Missionary Society of St. Paul of Nigeria, and lecturer at the National Missionary Seminary of St. Paul, Gwagwalada, Abuja.