Talking of oneness, I’m here referring to the integration of different ethnic groups, to have one voice for the collective development and growth of a region, and by extension, the nation, Nigeria.
The first thing to be considered here is, why do we want a common front for all the ethnic groups within the Niger Delta region? The answer would undisputedly be, to unify our clamour for justice, and development within the region. Let me here borrow a quote from my mentor, Martin Luther King, Jr. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. I believe that the way forward is to come forth as Nigerians, a people of one country, Nigeria. Any movement for the development of an ethnic or regional divide would be dead on inception, given the parochial latitude it seeks to function in.
We must leverage the benefit of history, with a view to replicating the achievement that has been recorded in the places where such concept of Nonviolent Direct Action was put to action.
It is pertinent to reflect on the two most prominent figures of the movement, in the persons of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), also known as Mahatma Gandhi, Indian nationalist leader, who established his country’s freedom through a nonviolent revolution and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), American clergyman and Nobel Prize winner, one of the principal leaders of the American civil rights movement and a prominent advocate of nonviolent protest. This duo had a thorough understanding of what civil disobedience entails. Given the complexity of our country being a nation of varied ethnic groups, race, cultural and religious background, let us limit our consideration to Martin Luther King’s led struggle in America, because of the similarity of the two nations.
America as we are all aware is a country that shares such complexity as our country, Nigeria. But in spite of their differences, Martin Luther King, Jr. was able to bring his dreams to fruition, given his congenital ability and thorough understanding of the struggle, and what it would take to grapple with the forces of segregation, oppression, and suppression.
He consciously and deliberately deemphasized racism, ethnicity, religion, and cultural affiliation, and all the potential bottle necks, in a bid to achieving the justice they so greatly long for. He preached love, with much emphasis on the need to grapple with the undesirable elements in the society. He made it an all inclusive struggle, without regards to race, ethnic divide, cultural and religious affiliation.
He consistently preached to the people without boundaries of any sort, creating awareness, regenerating in the people the consciousness of the need to come together in a common front for their emancipation. All this he did with one conviction, bearing in mind that the masses are themselves the last hope for their freedom. Consequent upon the continuous lectures, seminars, workshops, rallies, and all other effective means of enlightenment campaigns, the masses were galvanized to act, and they had no other option than to reach a consensus agreement to move for change.
What we need do, given the similar scenario that we find ourselves as a people, is to adopt the Martin Luther King’s approach.
Anything short of this, if asked would spell doom for our nation.
I must not fail to state unequivocally here, that something is brewing in our land and, given the plethora of reasons why we can’t wait, we must endeavour to start to act, to fight the good fight of nation building, and show how patriotic we are as a people.
Religion would have been one of the greatest obstacles save for knowledge and understanding. And it became the most effective tool for the actualization of the struggle.
Injustice anywhere is indeed a threat to justice everywhere, and the worst criminal is the person who looks on passively while a crime is being perpetrated.
God bless Niger Delta, and God bless Nigeria!
John Miles Wanogho