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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

A New Kind of Hope: Epistle to Nigerians

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 I salute you all with a golden spear held aloft for this week you have done the black race proud. You have shown the whole world that in spite of the negative media and the Frankenstein’s albatrosses like Ebola, there is beauty in Africa and like the proverbial Queen, if you call it out the beauty will shine. Three hearty cheers for Big Brother Africa; Nigeria, congratulations are in order! Long live the new African order of democratic constitutional transfer of power without barrel power.

You all deserve commendation for this mega victory you have recorded on behalf of the whole continent. And that is why as I mourned on social media, saying: The sword of Jonathan lies unanointed on the Rocks of Abuja, someone commented; he corrected me saying that Goodluck is as much a victor in this as Buhari. I could not agree with this enlightened commentator more. So please let the spirit reign sound; one nation united in peace should render asunder all party colours until the next election. Therefore, drawing inspiration from Saint Paul, I say to you all brethren: that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

But behold, as you celebrate this great victory of peaceful transfer of power the monster is still rearing its ugly head from the north. Even though their acts are haram from any scripture’s vantage point, they keep shedding blood in the name if Islam when their motivation is not different from what obtained not long ago in the Delta region. 

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Now my brothers and sisters of Nigeria what bothers me is your approach to this grave problem. You seem to be too cool toward these zealots. Are you still invoking the spirit of the past ancestors to get inspired and rout them in one fell swoop? Or am I too much impatient. Well, I think my impatience is justified for lives are being lost and I fear for my own self because I do visit the markets of Agboju at Festac Second gate, Wuse and also the Plaza in Abuja which are all potential targets of the Bombers.

Please rethink your approach to these and many other less explosive but equally dangerous issues confronting the country that I call Big Brother Africa both for its physical size and the depth of his pocket. I still do not get it that Big Brother Africa had to run to Paris begging for the world to come and rescue him from terror as two hundred innocent girls remain captive. The irony of the exodus to Paris is that a couple of months before that trip I was in the same hall with brother Goodluck during the 2013 Elysee Peace and Security Summit for Africa hosted by Francois Hollande. During that meeting a wise soul asked the enlightening question of how come African rebels have access to weapons that are so sophisticated and difficult to procure by state Governments for national defence but easily flaunted by emaciated African child soldiers; President Goodluck quickly spoke in agreement with the insinuation of that question.

This country that I love so much has the potential to lead the much-awaited revolution that Africa so badly needs to claim its rightful place in the 21st century. The potential is there but we need more than just good luck to unlock it. Brethren you will have to confront that thing that is called the Nigerian factor for the eagle to be able soar to the sky and lift the entire continent in the process. And this factor is not an easy thing to tackle for it has defied the wisdom and energy of such luminaries as the Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka. Professors like Ibi  Ajayi and Milton Ijoha could not define it and so they relegated it to the error term of their macroeconomic models. Even the master dribbler Maradona of Mina could not tackle this but with a new King at the helm being handed over the keys to the House of Goodluck, I am optimistic that we can undo the spell that keeps the Eagle bound to the dusty grounds of Mazamaza and Surulele rather than hike the heights of the giant rocks of Abuja.

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Big Brother, forget about the oil and mine the thousand and one other resources that your country is richly endowed with. Start with the millions of minds, and please do a conclusive census for once because without adequate statistics your plans are bound to fail. Also my good friends please take another look at agriculture and free its shackled potential.  Also, Whatever you currently gain from tourism is negligible compared to what you should actually get from this industry. I once sat down at the untouched beaches of Badagry where a retired medical doctor makes millions of Naira in a beachside hotel. He told me that when he started building that hotel, people thought he was crazy but he ventured and won. So must you encourage many more a great brain in your country to not restrict themselves to one field but to open up and till the many realms of their mental mines. This is the sure way to cure the malady of rigidity that oil has cast as a spell on your macro-economic fabric

The challenges are many and varied yet you should take heart for all these things can be properly addressed; if you can muster the political will things will work out well. Since we are celebrating Easter a few words of scripture would not hurt; and as for my Muslim brothers and sisters from the North, you can actually read and proclaim the following verse for Your own scripture teaches in the 82nd verse of the 5th Chapter that among the people who love the Muslims are “those who say, “We are Christians”: because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant.” Therefore I bid you all Happy Easter with the Psalm (of David, 37):

FRET not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.  For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 

Now as parting words, let me borrow again from the great psalmist, Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass:  “a nation where peace and justice reign!”


Former Minister of Presidential Affairs and the Civil Service in The Gambia, Momodou Sabally is the Author of “Strum Your Kora Conversations with Macky Sall” among many other books; he has just debuted his first guest column on the April edition of New African Magazine.


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