A Nation Under Bondage, By Tunde Bakare

Tunde-bakare
Pastor Tunde Bakare is convener of Save Nigeria Group

To move forward from this [Nigerian] national quagmire, we must go back in order to go forward and we must approach the task on all fronts.

First, we must return to the cesspool in which the young Nigerian nation was dumped with the bath water on the 24th of May 1966. We must reach out for her, retrieve what is left of her, wash her clean and nurture her back to life. This we must do by returning to the dialogue table to restructure.

Like I have said on previous occasions, we must get set to rebuild and restore; we must retrieve what is remaining of the pillars of our founding fathers and we must restructure and reconstruct; we must rebuild from wall to wall, from gate to gate; from community to community; from city to city; and from region to region until the whole nation is restored to its former and even greater glory.

That is why we welcome the idea of a constitutional conference and insist that the modalities be genuinely people-driven.

Like our founding fathers when they embarked on constitutional dialogues on the road to independence, on the dialogue table, we must have the courage to confront our fears, doubts and concerns about the Nigeria question, sweeping nothing under the carpet, yet we must be ready to make intelligent compromises.

As we do so, we must not forget that sovereignty lies with the people, not with politicians many of whom did not even win elections.

Therefore, we must find creative mechanisms to bring all the sub-nationalities together to negotiate the destiny of our nation in such a manner that smoothly and peacefully transports us from the current system to a true people’s constitution that has genuine claims to the phrase, “We The People”.

Such a constitution must guarantee social and economic rights as well as civil and political rights without derogating these rights through backdoor provisions.

We must embark on people-driven restructuring, cautiously guided by the realization that a system that makes peaceful change impossible makes violent change inevitable and that a constitution that will not bend will break.

Secondly, while stakeholders and genuine representatives of the people gear up for the dialogue table, there must be a movement of fellow Nigerians, young and old, male and female, at home and abroad, with patriotic zeal burning in their hearts, committed to finding a true Nigerian ideal and ensuring that the dialogue is conducted as prescribed by the people and that its outcome represents the genuine aspirations of the people.

These Nigerians must take advantage of every medium, from social media to community gatherings and from conventional media to town hall meetings, to discuss the issues intelligently and to mount pressure on the government to respect the aspirations of the people.

As Dr. Martin Luther King (Jr.) said when he stood before the American nation at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, one hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by Abraham Lincoln, “this is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy”. Therefore, we must not put the cart before the horse by placing emphasis on 2015. If we do not do the needful in 2014, there may be no 2015, but if we dedicate ourselves to restructuring our nation at this opportune time, the outcome will be the emergence of credible leadership that will ensure a Nigeria that works.

Therefore as we mark the centenary, genuine patriots must take up this challenge of national rebirth and become statesmen whose shoulders the younger generation of Nigerians can mount to catch a glimpse of the Nigerian dream.

It is instructive that the term, “nation” is derived from the Latin word natio, meaning, “birth”. True nationhood is conceived with divine input and delivered through human instruments. Such human stakeholders must begin to accept the promptings of destiny and not ignore the paradoxical birth pangs that come with it, for those birth pangs indicate that the gestation period has climaxed and that now is the time to take our destiny in our hands.

People often ask, “now that Gani is no longer here, who will step into his shoes?” My response to that has always been that eagles do not flock. You only see one at a time. Therefore Gani’s shoes will forever remain his; nobody can step into them because they are uniquely his.

Yet, every Nigerian, at home and abroad must become a stakeholder, throwing off the cloak of complacency and apathy, and contributing in his or her unique way to the making of a nation where, though tribes and tongues differ, the people will rise in brotherhood to build a great nation where no one is oppressed and whose banner is without stain.

It is possible!
It is doable!
We can do it!
We should do it!
We must do it!  Thank you, God bless you and God bless our nation Nigeria. And may Gani’s legacy live forever.

Pastor Tunde Bakare, the Serving Overseer,
 The Latter Rain Assembly in Lagos, made this excerpted remarks at the memorial lectures of the late venerable legal mind, Chief Gani Fawehinmi in Lagos Wednesday, January 15, 2014.


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