Peace is not the absence of war. It is much more intricate than that. There can be no peace when only lip service is paid to it. No peace when everyone is pretending, no friendships when selfishness is the order of the day. I see through the mealy mouthed peace advocates who say one thing in the day time and do the exact opposite in the night. Where there is lack of integrity, no truthfulness and moral bankruptcy there can never be peace. Toeing a peaceful path in any one’s dealing should never be synonymous with advantage taking where the quieter party is misconstrued as the weak one. I have figuratively and physically gone through several layers of untruths and moral depravity in my life’s journey with life’s fellow travellers over the years and I understand what mealy mouthed-ness, pretence and deceit is all about. Today I hold my experiences as a symbol in understanding our many societal ills. It would have paid off if one decides to become a silo but no one is an Island. I am therefore going to play out scenarios in my life to create the moments we must all try to avoid in order to be at peace with one another. These scenes are at work and family levels and are just some of the things we must have to deal with as long as we live in Nigeria or/and are her citizens.
Scenario 1: Shall we do the right thing? This has often raised a lot of dust wherever it is applied but honestly although no one is a saint, this is the bane of Nigeria’s progress. So someone is insubordinate in fact the worst case of this unhealthy practice is how this person now named B operates. We all have a B in our offices, our homes and our social spaces. B is impossible, uncouth, rude, late to all meetings, does not deliver on tasks, does not do the work and goes on leave without permission disappearing for months. B is your subordinate by miles. When you complain to HR, there are all manners of excuses for this person who ought to have been laid off like years before you arrived the scene but there is a HR Godfather or mother who has emboldened B over the years to carry on as usual. Did I hear you say you have a B around you? Bull’s eye. In most work and social spaces in Nigeria B is considered smart or too close to the top so everyone suffers in silence. This attitude is part of Nigeria’s stunted growth. We know that B cannot behave in that manner abroad. It is impossible for there to be peace in Scenario 1 wherever you apply it.
Scenario 2: Changing goal posts. I find this completely unnerving. So you speak with someone last week and everyone admits that there is a certain way we should all go. In fact, one man is more vociferous than others. Let’s call him X. He is at his loudest best for what needs to be done. Two meetings later X says he never agreed with anyone with respect to what needs to be done. We all look at him in horror. I am particularly ashamed because I was there for two meetings when X was defending this position. He does not say I am no longer on this side and justify it. He simply says he never said any of the things he said so loudly at previous meetings. Really? And trust me in all the spaces in which we operate as humans in Nigeria, this routinely happens and you wonder if you should have your head examined. No, there is nothing wrong with you. There can be no peace without integrity.
Scenario 3: Ours is ours. Our ethnic jingoism has become elevated to a high art. No one says we should not have kinsmen or commune with them. It is the very basis of our human existence. Our core. But if your kinsman is an armed robber, don’t colour it and give it a new name, instead you shout and try to decapitate another armed robber from a different ethnic nationality. My thief is a bloody thief but yours was hungry. Really? This is one of Nigeria’s greatest tragedies and until we can tell our kinsmen the truth at all times, we cannot go anywhere with the project called Nigeria. We defend those things that are indefensible because the person involved is from our village, then we take to the press and disrobe ourselves by spewing forth nonsense in defence of an idiotic brother or a thieving sister. This is not how to grow a nation.
There are several other scenarios including untruths, sinful nepotism, disgraceful tribalism, barefaced theft, impatience with one another even on the roads, it’s disgraceful. We cannot be gracious to each other, we are mean spirited as we drive and we do not even care if our bad driving or impatience leads to loss of life.
It was my late Dad who always said you can kill a man without using a sword. Your mouth is as dangerous as is your pen. Don’t go forward with falsehood, slander, hate speech, political wuruwuru, office politics for reasons of selfish aggrandizement. Let’s uproot these ills and be at peace with one another. Let us stop for a moment and be kind to one another. God bless Nigeria! Happy Independence celebrations!