To the utmost surprise of doom-watchers around the globe, Nigeria is going through historic moments of national renewal and democratic consolidation. Thankfully, the peaceful outcome of the 2015 Presidential and parliamentary elections does not synchronise with the catastrophic scenarios some know-it-all prophets of doom simulated and popularised. They audaciously fixed Nigeria’s death date, thereby, creating tension and economic upheavals. As the election drew closer and Boko Haram perpetuated heinous acts of terrorism, many Nigerians concluded that our tragic end was indeed at hand.
At the risk of recycling a simplistic cliché, let me say, it is a new dawn in Nigeria. We are at the threshold of a historic power shift. Historic because, the first three Presidents of the Fourth Republic were or are from the same political party. More importantly, at the federal tier of government, this will be the first time in our 55 years as a sovereign nation that the baton of leadership will be passed from the party in power to a hitherto opposition party.
Though we have good reasons to bask in the euphoria of a peaceful election and the rich possibilities of national regeneration, our political landscape is filled with landmines that could make our joys short-lived, if they detonate. In an attempt to gain groundswell support many politicians resorted to fallacious fantasies, thereby, distorting reality and poisoning public consciousness. Religions and regions were demonised in ways that plunged Nigerians to the cesspit of misery and trauma.
Added to this, Nigeria is morally and spiritually anaemic. Our collective sense of probity is vitiating. This impression is created and sustained by the ubiquity of corruption. In fact, corruption is both a cause and consequence of our moral collapse. Thankfully, Easter is rich with opportunities for sober reflections, moral and spiritual rejuvenation that could orient Nigeria along the path of nobility, brotherhood, equity, justice, and thereby, avert the looming doom.
Hence, it is imperative for us to ponder on the significance of Easter to our collective wellbeing. Easter derives its significance from the Pan-human love of Christ that led to His sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection. Nigeria cannot transit to greater notches of development and social harmony without love-based unity. To stand and thrive in unity, we must be rooted in love. Unity without love reveals the dark side of cosmetic oneness, not the beauty of strength in diversity. If we all love Nigeria and Nigerians unconditionally, we will attain organic oneness and wholeness, then, ethno-religious strife and insidious quest for supremacy will be confined to our past.
Nigeria cannot be buried in the graveyard of failed nations, if we imbibe the essence of Easter and become more forgiving, transparent, and accountable. No leader can builder a great nation on the foundation of lies and vendettas. Government functionaries cannot pilot Nigeria to her due realm of glory in the comity of nations without arousing faith in our common destiny and forge unity through open interactions. When leaders seek to deceive their followers they end up destroying the foundation of legitimate authority.
Another central message of Easter that Nigeria should draw strength from is the fact that, human regeneration is not a myth. Man is not a prisoner of his past. He is not doomed to the vagaries of fate. Man’s life is rich with opportunities for makeover. Every moment accords him opportunities to achieve heroism. What is true of man is true of a nation. Nigeria’s history of failed leadership and mass deprivation cannot deter her development, if we seize this moment of national renewal and restore trust to social architects who seek to give us a new conceptual map of where Nigeria should be heading.
In other words, citizenship behaviour must be marked by optimism and patriotic disposition to service. Our civic temperament must reflect the ideals of enlightenment. As the fourth President of the Fourth Republic; General Muhammadu Buhari prepares to assume office, we must lend him and his regime the requisite support for national transformation. We must see supporting leadership for the emergence of a better nation as a moral imperative. It is illusionary to expect a solo performer to transform Nigeria. In fact, transformational leadership is conjoint in nature. It demands meaningful interaction between leaders and followers.
Easter teaches that forgiveness restores broken relationships and is pivotal to social harmony. Vendetta is not a creative force. Hence, in the spirit of this season politicians should endeavour to forgive those who badly damaged their reputations during the electoral campaigns. They should endeavour to emulate Nelson Mandela. Mandela knew that after walking out of the prison gate, he would remain bound in prison without forgiving those made him a victim of the brutality of solitary confinement. So, he forgave them unconditionally. By so doing, he secured his inner freedom, which is a prerequisite for a flourishing and high-impact-making life.
Nigeria’s renewal and strive to embody higher ideals will be aborted, if we do not experience catharsis. We need to nurture the atrophying soul of Nigeria. This nurturing must begin with purification. At present, our national psyche cannot aid sustainable and inclusive development without purgation. We must sweep away the sediments of hate, mutual suspicion and paranoia that adversarial advertorials deposited in our minds. Otherwise, Nigeria will stumble at the threshold of her exaltation. It is difficult to imagine the likely catastrophe that will befall us, if we are led by people enslaved by bitterness.