In times like this

Nigeria is speedily moving from the precipice to the tipping point. According to Malcolm Gladwell, author of the book, Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, the tipping point is “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” The tipping point is the critical point in an evolving situation that leads to a new and irreversible development. It is originally used in epidemiology to describe a situation in which an infectious disease reaches a point beyond any local ability to control it from spreading more widely. Therefore, a tipping point is a turning point; a point of no return.

From talking about the different problems in the country, Nigerian youths took up the gauntlet and called on the government to put an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and police brutality before challenging it to emplace a new order that would make life and living better and more meaningful for every Nigerian.

The EndSARS protests, which started over two weeks ago, had been largely peaceful with the protesters conducting their affairs with utmost decorum in most states until last Tuesday when some military men went on the rampage and mowed down young, patriotic and defenceless Nigerians, who were holding the national flag and reciting the national anthem, under the cover of darkness foisted on the area by those who put off electricity supply to the Lekki tollgate just before the commencement of the shooting. That singular event changed the tone of the protest. Since that time, violence, looting, arson and murder have marked the protests.

In times like this, leaders must maintain their calm and refrain from resorting to anger and rule of thumb. When there is confusion in the land, the people look up to the leaders for direction. Any betrayal of bewilderment or perplexity in the leaders will send a wrong signal to the people and this may exacerbate the already appalling situation. When things turn awry the leader must show that he is on top of the situation without necessarily taking measures that could aggravate the situation. This will give those on the opposing side something to worry about and will boost the confidence of those looking up to the leader for inspiration. When Britain was being plummeted on every side during the Second World War and it looked as if the only way to go was down, Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister, kept on lifting the spirit of the people with his inspiring words. In times such as this, the leader’s responsibility is to inspire the people, not to de-motivate them.

When the unity of a country hits the nadir, threats by the leaders should be minimal. The fact is that those who dumped peaceful protest for violence are already pushed to the wall. They have very little to lose if push comes to shove. As a matter of fact their expectation is that the state would provoke them into realizing their objective, which is grand scale chaos in the land that will escalate the already bad situation into an unmanageable level so that all hell will be let loose. Many of these agitators are well educated youths who have no jobs and no hope. Agitation has become a straw to hold on to. The only hope they see is the escalation of crisis to get some relevance in the scheme of things.

In times like this, the leaders should assuage the feelings of the aggrieved without surrendering sovereignty. The indisputable fact is that all those singing war songs have strong reasons to feel disenchanted about a country they once held dear. How did we go from “Build Nigeria” to “Break Nigeria”? How did we travel back in time to exhuming and enlivening the ghost of Biafra which was interred in 1970? Those who feel aggrieved enough to romance the past must be assuaged so that we can leave the past behind and travel to the future. We cannot record the progress we desire as a people if we keep going back to our past. To divorce ourselves from the past requires giving the past a decent burial. So, the leaders must engage those who are aggrieved so that the past can be properly interred.

In times like this the question to ask is why is there so much agitation in the country? Why are Nigerians seemingly tired of their country? Why would educated youths be out on the streets defying the guns of soldiers? Why would those for whom the future should ordinarily hold great promises be willing to lay down their lives without a care in the world? The answer is that there is so much hardship in the land because there is no equity. If there is no equity, there cannot be unity. So, to have a united country those in leadership must do all they can to ensure justice; every Nigerian must get his or her due, irrespective of where he or she hails from within the country. Allied to that is that united countries are built around national visions or dreams. What is the Nigerian Dream? Why would anyone not be fed up with a country that has no vision? Why would anyone not be disenchanted with a country that seems to be rudderless? Why would the youth not ask for a change in a country that appears to have no plan for them? The time to fashion out a Nigerian Dream is now. The leaders should rally the people around a vision. That is how to ‘kill’ all the agitations that threaten the unity of the nation.

 

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