BURNING POT BY PRINCE CHARLES DICKSON
Nigeria’s General Elections--the fear of “I love you”
When the shadow of a tree is bent, you don't aim to straighten the shadow, you go for the tree and the leave the shadow...
The much talked about February is upon us, finally we are simply counting down the days, to what may well be the most talked about Valentine for a nation with no love lost amongst her citizens...
One cannot but wonder what the electoral umpire INEC and its leadership had up their sleeves when they picked the date...
However in the run-up, the danger signs have all popped up, from pre-election violence, name-calling, hate-speech and all the gimmicks. One would agree with me that this is one election that has come with intense hate, coming ironically in the month of love…and it would go ahead to shape not just the nation but also her people.
And so far, there are many questions largely unanswered, simply put do Nigerians love themselves, or rather afraid of themselves, or maybe it is a case of mutual suspicion, whichever, it looks increasingly clear that there is fear.
So, beyond all the rented crowds attending the broom and umbrella rallies, what kind of Nigeria would be left after the elections, a process that has been dominated by “if you win, Nigeria will break”, “if I win, I will stop my oil”, “we must win because it is our turn”, and many such rhetoric.
Very quickly, this week, I will tell us this fable about the mother snake and her children.
A mother snake woke her children up in the wee hours of the night and asked that all of them get ready because they have to relocate to somewhere that night before dawn and her children became so afraid and concerned.
When she asked them what they were afraid of, in unison they told their mother that they were afraid of the dark. When their mother asked why they should be afraid of darkness?
Again, in unison they answered that they were morbidly afraid because of things that bite in the dark. Their mother assertively admonished them by reminding them that they are the things every other living creature fears that bites both in the dark and in the broad-day light.
Nigerians again are afraid, the politicians have done very little to cage their supporters, it has been so bad that the sitting president has been stoned on the campaign trail, and whoever planned it, is as insignificant as the kind of hate such actions are bound to breed.
While the Presidential candidates round up, I dare say in these lines that our problem is not Jonathan, and Buhari is neither the solution. Our problem is beyond the elections...We are afraid and with this election again opening the obvious that we need to talk about who we are.
The truth is that whoever wins the election of February 14th needs to discuss Nigeria, because the campaign away from the issues has again exposed the cracks.
Years ago, my now late friend and brother Dr. Valentine Ojo of Tall Timbers, MD in the USA, narrated the story of Nigeria thus...
"I only wish people would get away from this sentimental obsession of believing that those who call for an OPEN DISCUSSION on Nigeria are necessarily calling for Nigeria to break up, or that there is something sacrosanct about Nigeria, and that Nigeria can never DISINTEGRATE into 1000 pieces if care is not taken!
It was MAN that put Nigeria together. It is MAN that is holding Nigeria together as of today. It is MAN that is doing all the things that are threatening to break up Nigeria today. And it is MAN who can sit down to discuss and see if we can work out ways to fix all that is wrong with Nigeria!
If my marriage is threatening to break up, and I refuse to sit down with my wife, and if need be, with family and friends, marriage counselors or pastors and priests, then I cannot be serious about wanting my marriage to work, and not break up! There is nothing called a marriage made in heaven! It is you who can make your marriage a 'HEAVEN or a HELL'!
It is the same with nations: Nigerians are the ones who can make Nigeria a HEAVEN or a HELL for us, if we are only willing to sit down and TALK HONESTLY about what is ailing Nigeria, each group from his or her own perspective, and then see how we can arrive at WORKABLE COMPROMISES!
No one and no group can ever get 100% of what they want from any living arrangement, no matter how perfect!
Living together in a house, in a family or in a nation is always about being ready and willing to make COMPROMISES!
Nigeria with all the campaigns has exposed that our case is like the man who picked up a pregnant girl, who then faints in his car, he takes her to the hospital, and then the doctor comes out, and tells him congratulations, “you are going to be a father”. He tells the doctor, “it's not possible, I cannot be”, but the girl, says you are the father. He insists!
To prove he is not the father, he requests a DNA, after the test, the doctor says he is infertile. Extremely stressed but relieved, on his way home, he starts remembering he left three kids at home. Who is their father?
Beyond a free election that may not be fair, a fair election may not be free, or one that is free, fair but not credible, Nigerians seem to be chasing shadows with the likes of Tinubu, Amaechi, Fani Kayode, Doyin, Soludo and Ngozi trading jabs, citizens looking for certificates and PHd thesis, I doubt we really know the substance, how to deal with it and stop chasing shadows, if not for how long the tree will remain bent—Only time can tell.