For the love of State and Country – Mina Ogbanga @minaogbanga2

When I was approached by the editors of YNaija to join its popular Y! FrontPage  series I asked my four “W” questions; What is the series about? Why? When would you like these write ups and what media is going to be using it? As soon as I got answers to these questions I said ‘yes’ so fast I didn’t give myself the usual one week “to think about it”.

How long this relationship will last I cannot tell, but what I can tell though is that the best decision I’ve made in recent time was to “make the best of the present moment”. I reckon the whole idea would be to make the best of this relationship.

I deeply hope that this effort will not only reach many but be able to achieve the twin aim of inspiring and impacting on youths and all readers alike to thinking through events and seeing themselves as the much needed change agents and revolutionary tools to changing Nigeria in particular and the world at large.

My introductory piece is one I’m passionate about – issues of my state and country and surely there are matters arising for which I can not turn a blind eye as a stakeholder and concerned citizen. So join me on this journey to dissecting the intrigues in this issue”For the love of state and country – the 10 steps to addressing the transition dilemma.”

2015 is two years away, but for many states and indeed countries, it appears to have come in two years earlier as it is singularly serving as the defining factor behind decisions, intrigues, happenings, strategies and ambition. That there is therefore something deeply important about 2015 is now no more in doubt, a typical scenario during any major proposed transition though taking a dramatic turn this time. For areas that have it all ‘locked down’ and unanimously working on a mutually agreeable plan, you somewhat may not be hearing too much of a bullet from there but for some others whose soul many want to conquer, in one word, the drama has just begun.

So many live in uncertainty as their vulnerability to the outcome and effect of two elephants fighting leaves them as the ground to decide if and when to give way or give in. Okay, consider these my best philosophical musing ahead of discussing a very deep issue that has given me sleepless nights in recent times.

The issue on the front-burner is the ongoing security and related challenges facing Rivers state in particular and the nation in general which has gone beyond who is responsible, to who really cares for the citizenry? Who has genuinely put citizens above self?

In recent months, a conglomerate of intrigues are threatening to tear apart the heart of its existence. Making mince-meat of development efforts and citizens commitment to growth and civilization. It is certainly generally known that the hands of crises only knows how to make rubbish of peace and peaceful co-existence. The implication of the huge man hours dedicated to resolving issues most often takes away the drive and concentration leaders and followers alike making citizens become like a woman that is being raped, called for help, help came and elbowed the rapist but continued none the less in the same act.

History, in its benevolence and generosity to a fault has it on track record that an environment ridden with crises has never allowed sustainable growth and development to take place.

So, before the matters escalate and we get to the brink of war,I list my thoughts on the 10 steps worth thinking through to addressing the crucial issues on ground with a view to stimulating thought towards resolution.

1) One of the most crucial obligation the state in particular and nation owes its citizenry is to ensure security of lives and property. However, even as this constitutional responsibility rests on the shoulders of the police command depended upon to discharge such duties responsibly, the inadequacy of this support is putting all stakeholders at risk. This is security corruption and needs to be addressed as the outcome of setting a dry bush ablaze can never be predicted.

2. We have survived a phase and no one wants a return to the dark days of uncontrollable politically motivated gang violence. The return to ‘gangsterism’ has globally been known to cripple both social and economic activities, increasing poverty,reducing development and multiplying discontent. It is said that a time may come when the extremity of these issues could make the poor have nothing else to eat than the rich themselves. How ready are we for such anomie?

Any true democrat who refuses to apply the tenets of acquired education will take turns to settle political differences with fisticuffs. It is worthy of note that even in Bible times, the fists had a greater proposed assignment than many give it credit for.

4. Knowing that conflicts and violence are lethal threats to peace, which is the irreducible minimum condition for development, we should not therefore let it degenerate as not only the state but the nation will lose massively. A typical current scenario is the fact that as the fury escalates, the dreaded oil theft issues and gas flaring activities are booming, crude oil is being stolen daily from the creeks and the nation is too busy or unwilling to tackle the menace head on. Coupled with the loses we suffer from gas flaring in the excess of N735 million daily, we appear to be speaking from two sides of the mouth when we claim creating wealth and employment for millions of the hungry youths now roaming the streets is our priority.We waste the resources that could have been channelled towards creating infrastructure and even making a mockery of existing yet untapped ultra modern technology strategies that would have been used to tackle theft and flare.

5. The government seem to have forgotten that with the current trend, no investor will be encouraged to invest thereby further crippling the economic fortunes. So one must see the need to act out a ‘zero’ tolerance signal to those fanning the embers of discord.

6. A time was, going by the ranking published by Bloomberg, Port Harcourt ranked with Baghdad as one of the Worlds most dangerous cities for foreign workers. As for the nation, we have, days ago, been labelled as the most stressful country to live in the World! While we overcame the city’s saga with an entrance of peace and stability, it would take a random interview to confirm the national status.

7. In whatever way I have tried to imagine it, we now all move with a certain tag home and abroad. While in Nigeria, one is asked questions like: “Where are you from? River state I answer… They tilt their heads sideways and go “Oh my, how are you able to cope with all going on there bla…?

Outside Nigeria, you are asked, “Where are you from?”. “Nigeria,” I respond. The expression darkens, “Nigeria? Oh my, how far have you people gone with fighting….”

You quickly realise that a certain brand imposed on you that could even as individuals affect ones chances at achieving. It is imperative for everyone to seek a common ground so the lives of people won’t be affected by sectors who they basically may not be gaining anything from.

8. While many may believe arguments should proceed from facts on ground reconciliable with the provision of the clear cut laws of the land and not mediated intents. Others believe it is a case of humility required. Many feel influence to increase the fire has not been remotely coordinated especially as one is infallible in reputation. Crossing constitutional or legitimate boundaries as in itself challenging and leaves many no more burden of proof. Can the law be jettisoned? Well, now we have judicial commissions of inquiry into the crises going on.

9. The loss of our nation’s sanity is very provocative in a country where millions already go to bed hungry. We need not take our profound resource blessings for granted shutting us out of worlds wisdoms reach.

As a people, we need to confront impunity head-on, resisting it in its
totality. The fact that it undermines the very fabric of legality and
constitutionalism and jeopardizes legitimacy, thus undermining the very
foundations of human civilization and societal existence is dangerous and
unhealthy and ironically assumption based, referencing perceived enemies.

10.”Live and let live” is a common phrase yet difficult to practice. No
man is an island and that working together puts away external aggressors
is perhaps stating the obvious. Analysing the situation may not end today
but will,to a large extend give us clear direction to who is really
interested in the consistently growing needs of the citizenry. Power
intoxicates and absolute power intoxicates absolutely.
A house divided against itself cannot stand as third parties who derive
profits from fanning embers will seek innovative ways to helping you
destroy what is yours. Statesmanship is required just like a forgiving
spirit is the hallmark of any great leader. What does it profit a man to
win a “war” and lose out on his aspirations? For every Goliath, there is a
stone. The solution to the current challenges is not far fetched… He who
seeks it….Shall find it…Nigerians are is said that what
the elders see sitting down,the young may not see standing, so where are
the elders? Perhaps it is time for the true elders to arise… and seek ways
to keep the house together.
Mina Ogbanga is an ardent development activist with a strong passion for sustainable development in rural communities, institutional building and social performance.

A social entrepreneur par excellence, Mina has had over 20 years of development experience. A Post Graduate Alumni of Cambridge University UK, United Nations Training Institute, Alumni of Harvard Kennedy School Boston, US, LBS etc and a Doctoral Researcher in Nigeria

About the author



Leave a Comment