Celebrating Excellence & Integrity

Roundtable

Equity, justice and patriotism as pillars for nation building

As the world stayed glued to global cable networks to watch the inauguration of President Joe Biden and the first female Vice –President in America a few days ago, a few histories were made. The Vice President, Kamala Harris, the first woman of colour to rise to that position was sworn in by the first Latina to be appointed into the US Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor.  The youngest poet laureate, Amanda Gorman wowed the world with her brilliant performance of her spoken word, “Even as we grieved, we grew”.

The young lady has said that she intends to contest for the presidency of the United States in 2036. What an admirable courage and dream? Her bravery and confidence stems from the fact that flawed as the American political and social systems might be, it is still a land of reasonable opportunity.

Three Nigerian-Americans have been appointed to different positions by the Biden administration just like other citizens from other climes. The mantra is merit and capacity. Even though as humans the system is imperfect, citizens realize that once they work hard at their dreams, there are likely chances of succeeding and contributing to the democratic experience and the development of the country.  The country has tried to be loyal to the constitution and so there are chances of growth and progress.

On the contrary, the Nigeria state seems divided more than five long decades after the civil war that needed not to have been fought in the first place. Being true to ourselves means chatting the best way forward as a nation in an era that nations are closing their borders and seriously looking inwards. Recounting what led to the war or who lost or who won can never bring progress. The future demands that we have some introspection and begin to address holistically the things that are wrong with us a nation.

The Roundtable Conversation caught up with Charity Shekari, an Administrator, gender/civil rights advocate and a former Health Commissioner in Kaduna State. She believes that all Nigerians must sincerely come to the table with humility and a sense of purpose. The present situation of manipulation through ethnicism, religion and other mundane reasons that have been the order of the day cannot make us progress. We can never be progressive with the level of injustice, nepotism and self-centeredness across the country. No nation grows from being divisive. The issue of injustice  must be addressed holistically. Injustice at any level is a root to permanent national damage. The sign of justice is a blindfolded woman with a scale that does not tilt to any side. Nigeria must begin to look at our justice system. Is there equity, is justice available to the rich and poor, to the influential and none influential?

The Nigerian citizens must have real introspection and search our souls for the hypocrisies that brought us to the situation where we have our children attending universities in our towns, a politician would consider ethnicity and religion before merit in both appointive and elective positions. We must stop seeing each other as enemies because we have too much that unite us rather than the other way round.

The hypocrisy of even discriminating based on ethnicity and religion is so puerile because it has eaten deep into the psyche of Nigerians both high and low in all regions. We often push divisions through geography and religion in very destructive ways. You have the so-called tripod treating the  minorities as though they don’t belong at different levels. Somebody from the middle belt for instance might be treated as a Northerner by the Southerners, then in the North, the same person might not get full acceptance as people might begin to again point to geographical boundaries and religion.

Even amongst the Southerners, you still find cleavages in tribes and religion and even in Christianity you still see denominations discriminating against each other. How can we grow? All those  attempts to exclude others is the root of the injustice in the larger Nigerian society and the bane of our development. When any human or group of humans feel any sense of injustice, the spirit of unity disappears and development cannot come.

Ironically the same Nigerians that try to find differences in each other would meet abroad and become brothers and sisters in the diaspora. Why then can that spirit of brotherhood not like charity, start at home? We do not need to separate because we are too closely linked to be progressive if taken apart.

The solution for a progressive nation is for us to sit down and continue to have the conversation. There must be the inclusiveness that tells everyone in all the nooks and crannies of the nation that they are valued and are parts of the whole. Justice and equity must be the mantra. When there is no justice those who request justice would continue to demand it and might not be willing to give their best.

The Nigerian men and women must realize that we all need each other. Leadership especially must begin to be handled with equity that sees every Nigerian citizen as equal and capable of contributing to the development of the country. Nothing trumps unity and a sense of citizenship. Our diversity must be seen as assets as we all bring different value to uplift each other. The rainbow is beautiful because all the colours are in sync and none replaces the other.

Nigerian women must equally begin to be proactive in ways that can make then access power because they are the greatest victims of underdevelopment.  Women must in the words of the popular African proverb, learn how to eat the elephant, slowly but tactfully.  Political inclusion is not done through fiat or war. We must marry the socio-cultural nuances and the modern political realities for impactful gender parity in politics.

Our men too must take a cue from other nations that have been benefitting from the excellence in the leadership of their women. The nurturing and patriotic zeal in women must be valued enough for a seamless inclusion because ultimately, we are in this together. Justice and equity never destroy, they build.

The woman must like the ants, work together. Women must work together for progress of the nation because really, there is strength in unity. We can be more accommodating of our imperfections and emerge victorious by being kind to each other and being less critical of our imperfections individually and as a group. We can only be together and strategize, there would be mistakes but we learn and move on.

Dr Fatima Lamishi Adamu, a sociologist,  gender rights activist and an executive director of Nana girls and Women’s empowerment Initiative, an NGO operating in Sokoto and Kebbi states believes that Nigerians all over the country especially those in leadership positions must as a matter of urgency look at ways to arrest the insecurity problems in the country because no nation can progress without security.

In the country, things are really difficult and we need to begin to ask ourselves what to do for the youths to be gainfully employed. We must address the issue of insecurity because those in the social ills like kidnapping, banditry and insurgency, are in their productive ages and this needs urgent action. The governors are trying but more still needs to be done. Security must be present before any type of development can happen.

The effects of insecurity affect the smooth running of any nation. We as women groups must begin to organize at least now with Zoom so we can all raise our voices. We need more women in leadership positions from the ward to state and federal levels. Women naturally have empathy and more compassion and their leadership helps develop the country.

Dr. Fatima believes women too must be ready to mentor and encourage others even when they themselves are not ready to be play partisan politics.  Political participation for women is very urgent at this time of our development because the men alone cannot handle leadership as we have seen across our nation.  Balancing leadership positions is a task women especially the educated ones must take seriously. The cases of insecurity affect women and children more because those areas where women get their economic power like agriculture and commercial ventures are affected very adversely.

The Nigerian leadership at all levels must come together to address the issues that have led to the insecurity that is affecting the whole country negatively. We must begin to address education, employment and infrastructure development so that the young people can get education and skills that would help them earn a living and in so doing the country can be safer and economic activities increase in ways that the poverty level will reduce. Women should not sit back and blame the men, those who are capable and willing to join politics must step and out and be supported for the good of the nation. When women lead, they lead with the zeal they nurture families.

The Roundtable Conversation believes that the mistake of the civil war cannot define our nation. Individuals and groups must begin to see and harness the beauty of diversity. We can all prosper together as we unite sincerely as a nation willing to work for progress.

The recent #EndSars movement is an example of what new ideas, women, youths, multicultural coalition and unity can give a nation. Growth and development are often not about race, tribe, youth or adult but a strategy adopted by willing nations to grow. We watched a Kamala Harris being sworn in as Vice-President in a country where women just got voting rights about a century ago and blacks and other minorities even more recently.

Today a coalition of nationalities, whites, blacks, Latinas , Jews, Hispanics and every creed and nationality joined hands to elect an administration to heal the wounds of division and return America back to its  global position. Nigeria too can borrow a leaf but equity, justice, citizenship rights and security for all must be jointly and sincerely allowed to blossom first.

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