There are few times you get this kind of feeling after watching a great football match like the Arsenal- Barcelona match. It was a mixture of explosive and classical football. Though I think Arsenal was outclassed by the rampaging Barca team, they still held their bit against the more experienced side. Apart from the fact that the two captains are going to be missing in the next leg of the match, I think the match will still be something to watch. The exhilarating feeling reminded me of the Save Nigeria Group Summit last Saturday. It was me meeting with hope; hope was what the ambience of the meeting venue smelt of- it was intoxicating.
I got in just as Pastor Tunde Bakare was just rounding up on the spirit and tribe of the new Nigeria. As my eyes quickly got adjusted to the setting, I could quickly make out my people and other guests; Jimi Agbaje, Mike Iginni, Joe and Yinka Odumakin, Deolu Akinyemi, Gbenga Sesan, Steve Enada and of course Pastor Tunde and his wife, Laide Bakare. One of my first thoughts was truly, we had one tribe and the battle for the liberation of Nigeria was not between Christians and Muslims, neither was it against the obstinate North and the progressive South. The present quagmire was not created by solely northerners. The ruling party, the Presidency, the Cabal and the widely condemned INEC have enough people from the South, the disenfranchised people of the South also need to ask their leaders what they do with the allocations given to them. But Tbaks has just been wonderful; I admire the charisma and gusto he had brought into social mobilization especially at a when activism seemed gagged.
While I will address issues with people who believe pastors should live in Church Island, I saw a different tribe come alive in that hall. It was a new tribe of Nigerians- uncolored, detribalised and promising. Then that upcoming fiery lawyer Mike Iginni spoke especially about the need for everyone to continually push the boundaries of political imprisonment into liberation. While charging youths to use their competence for political liberation, he urged everyone to stand now so that we do not have to do that later in life. A musical group, the Niger Delta Christian Youths had a presentation on saying goodbye to the old Nigeria.
There was nothing young and cool about the next speaker whose experience as being the president of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYC) for 15 years came to life as soon as he opened his mouth. Alhaji Yerima Shetima Usman declared that to assume the end of the struggle is near is to hide our heads in the dust like the ostrich. He quickly agreed in principle with Mike Iginni about our recycled leaders. Certainly people who brought us into trouble cannot be allowed to out us on another cycle of misfortune. To say this was reassuring coming from a strong Muslim from the North was strong enough to say the agenda and the dream of a new Nigeria is not regional.
Modupe Oyekunle of the International Center for Reconstruction and Development (ICRD) was one bullet that unleashed at the event. Starting simply, she did not shy away from the fact that most of us are the people allowing less than 2% of the population to subject us into years of misrule. I remember a quote which said bad people rule because the good people sat by and watched. Some may even not watch, but because they are not concerned, the have a way of working the system, they’d rather maintain criminal murderous silence while the political carnage sweeps away dreams.
Deolu Akinyemi arrived late while rushing in from a meeting in Port Harcourt; he spent the few minutes of his presentation dealing with the silent, youthful majority. He started by welcoming us all who criticize all our leader and are quick to condemn the recent happening things in our nation, but we are of the team of a large majority of Nigerian murders who permit death on our roads (which are more like human traps), failure of our students and the sticky fingers of our scallywag leaders all by our collective silence. He narrated an experience where he sat and watched the life of a relative literally hang on the residual power of an inverter attached to a life support machine after lights went out- this one fraction of things that happen when good men keep criminal silence. One quote I won’t forget in a hurry is “peace is what we discuss when we have the capacity for war”.
The governorship aspirant of the DPA during the 2009 gubernatorial elections for Lagos State did not mince words with the audience. He adapted another speakers’ story where instead of a father helping a child who could not see beyond a particular fence, the father began to tell the child what he is supposed to see. Moral of the story? We’ve been leaders of tomorrow for too long. I remembered a text I got in the wake of the Obasanjo’s third term saga “Obasanjo came to Ife in 1978 and said the students are the leaders of tomorrow, in 1999 he came again when he was contesting to say and said we are the leaders of tomorrow, now he wants to use the third term. He has eaten our father’s future, our future and now he is demanding for our childrens’- say no to third term. ”
He rounded up by mentioning that only strong institutions can build an enduring democracy. Even the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) needs to be an institution and not about individuals.
“After all said and done, we may forget the shouts of our enemies, but we will never forget the silence of our friends” was a quote by Martin Luther King and mentioned by this woman who has assumed the face of activism in Nigeria. She charged every Nigerian to stand up and step out of those who maintain criminal silence.
It was a great programme and I particularly liked the interactive session where we had to split into groups and discuss the next line of action as regards social mobilization. The future depends on the few, those who will act and persist until Nigeria fufils destiny.
The future started yesterday, we are already late.