At long last, the dispensation of Change that Nigerians have so anticipated for a long time has come. Hardly could members of the opposition party wait for May the 29th to arrive and now, it has come, and gone. And here we all are, trusting and hoping that this would truly be the season of change we have protested and prayed for all these years. It is of no doubt that every citizen expects the new government to look into the problems we have in this country. And while that is not uncalled for, I am quite afraid that there is one major problem eating Nigeria up hard, that President Mohammadu Buhari might not be able to look into or solve.
Over time on twitter, there have been sessions of uproar which have transpired between people of different tribes (The Igbos and the Yorubas, specifically). I am totally fed up of the unseeming bants the Yorubas throw against the Igbos and vice-versa. You know, this has driven me to think. Perhaps corruption isn’t our greatest problem. Perhaps the lack of love is. Perhaps tribalism is. Furthermore, I ask, if we truly want a better Nigeria, are we looking forward to achieving it this way? Do you ever wonder if the last line of the first stanza of our National Anthem would ever come to pass? How this infuriates me every now and then, not because I am yoruba, but because I hate to see that the so-called great people of a great nation can not even join hands together without thinking of or calling out the faults of other tribes. It is even alarming to think that the open hatred and condemnation amongst Nigerian tribes on the social media is but a shadow of what truly is in reality. If we want to build Nigeria, can we build Nigeria without building one another? And can we build one another without loving one another? I would like to know.
This might mean nothing to you, but I am plain tired of the twitter bants. So, this is what I believe. Buhari might be an agent of true change but this is not a problem I think he would be able to solve because the problem lies in the hands on every Nigerian (you and me) to solve. I know the tribal conflict will come up again on Twitter or on Facebook or anywhere else but I believe that with every Nigerian who will take the effort to love his neighbour without segregating, and without hypocrisy, an effective step will be added to the national journey towards peace and unity.
Change, they say, is constant. Every being is susceptible to change. Even the most resistant to change is likely to experience one form of unconscious change, or the other, at a point in their lives. People want change. In 2008, when President Barack Obama was contesting for the Presidency of the United States of America his mantra was “Change” and, of course, we know the outcome of the elections. Presently in Nigeria, one of the country’s leading political parties – the All Progressive Congress(APC) – has won the hearts of millions just because they have promised them what they so crave for – ‘Change’. So, you see, the desire for change is not esoteric but is common to all individuals.
This want for change is not left out in our personal and interpersonal relationships. We are continually, and unavoidably, surrounded by people who we always think could do better or get better, people who we strongly believe should change a habit that we think is unacceptable. We, sometimes, wonder why a certain individual would act in an annoying manner. Employers are constantly baffled as to why their employees choose not to work better. Spouses constantly sigh, in frustration, at the thought that their partners seem not to want to grow. We all want someone, somewhere, to stop doing something we hate with our entire being. And when this doesn’t happen (probably not as quickly as we want it), we throw our hands up in the air, in frustration, asking: “why don’t you just want to learn?”; “why don’t you just want to grow up?”
But then, perhaps the conflicts we have with other individuals are not as a result of what they can’t do, or don’t want to learn, but as a result of who we are. Perhaps our own characters are so flawed that we can’t see that these people are probably better than we are. We want others to change. We coax and coerce them to do things in a way which we think is better. We don’t focus on ourselves. We don’t put ourselves in the equation of change we so badly want to implement. Maybe, just maybe, if we invested in our character, we would begin to see others in a different light. We would begin to understand that we badly need the change we want for them ourselves. Maybe that little step of introspection could make us see what or who exactly needs to change, or be changed. And maybe, if everyone focused less on changing the other Nigerian and focused on changing himself more – in character – Nigeria would not only be a changed country but a country with changed people.
More than the need for others to change, more than the need for even our country to change, is the greater need for our person to change. I want change. And I know you do too. But before we ask for change in others, let us seek for change first in ourselves.
Edit Credit: Damilola Yakubu (@DamiYakubu)