Let Nigeria be By Eddie Mbadiwe

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The drumbeats reminis­cent of those heard be­fore the Nigerian civil war are again sounding. They are discordant and sometimes frightening. One sometimes can­not decipher whether we are pre­paring for an election or a war.

On the day Professor Jega announced the postponement of the elections, the countdown started. It is now a matter of a few short weeks and Nigeria will begin a fresh democratic dispensation.

At amalgamation in 1914, the British colonial masters in their wisdom, but more importantly for administrative convenience, merged the Northern and Southern Protectorates, with the name Nigeria. Unfortunately, this merger did not lead to fusion nor even cohesion among the over 200 ethnic nationalities with more than 260 languages in the counry.

Be that as it may, Nigeria is not the only country in existence. There are many other examples including Great Britain where the English, Scots, Welsh and Irish all have worked out a modus vivendi to sustain a rocky four-pronged marriage.

Canada and Sudan are other ex­amples where internal cold war exists among the nationalities, but the cease­fire continues to endure. T heir u nder­standing seems to be that as long as the centre holds, let their country be.

All nations, including those that are more than 240 years old like the United States are all work-in-progress. We had our centenary only last year. Admit­tedly, we could have done much better than we have in 100 years but it will be utopian for anyone to expect perfection within that time frame.

All the infractions, attrition, bruises and pains we are experiencing in the run up to the 2015 elections can be con­sidered growing up pains. It is, there­fore, important that we nurse and man­age them appropriately.

Against this background, it is incum­bent on all Nigerians to rein in that mot­ley crowd of selfish, self-opinionated rascals from across the political divides who threaten, spit fire and brimstone if their candidate does not win. Interest­ingly, what some people fail to realise is that in any contest and more especially elections, there is no second position. Come March 28 and April 11, there will be one winner per seat. That is a given. Nigeria is much more important than any one of us and to all those pocket apostles of Armageddon, our collective plea is: let Nigeria be.

We are so large, diverse and so richly endowed that with proper management, there will be enough for all. Everyone must be encouraged to contribute to na­tional development.

There is, however, one malaise we must address after the election to have national stability. The virus is the win­ner-takes-all syndrome.. Elections have become a war of survival or extinction because the winner takes all. In the United States, a country we strive to copy, there is provision for all talents that will grow America. Even foreign­ers with special skills have preferential treatment in scholarships and residence permits.

Many American Presidents, and most recently, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, went across the aisle to pick opposition candidates for national assignments. This is the way to go.For all those who are promoting, defending and perpetuating the “winner take all syndrome’’, it is necessary to have a change of mind.

INEC invariably must have an intel­ligence unit and is, no doubt aware that the political parties are not only buying PVCs but have gone a step further to collect the PIN numbers on PVCs, re­turn them, and leave the owners N500 richer. These evil geniuses plan to be one step ahead of INEC. A majority of Nigerians demand that card readers be properly used. One hopes INEC does not buckle or waiver in its resolve to use card readers.

As all Nigerians both Christians and Moslems shine their eyes and move into this season of elections, let us implant in our subconsciousness the immortal words of John Wesley by `Doing all the good we can by all the means we can, in all the places we can, to all the people we can as long as we can’’, in the overall best interest of Nigeria.

SUN