Here comes a time in our nation’s chequered political history when well-meaning Nigerians with brilliant ideas on contentious issues are afraid of voicing their opinion for fear of being mischievously and wickedly misconstrued. Our local media is daily awash with plethora of stories that are deliberately packaged to malign and cast doubt on the image and reputation respected personalities, especially those in the corridors of power.
We are presently faced with a disturbing situation where some elements, with ulterior motives take delight in twisting the views or positions of fellow countrymen on public discourse.
Without doubt, the unhealthy development has not only discouraged some Nigerians from offering their well-thought out views on serious issues, but are capable of polluting the minds of Nigerians and members of the international community. Public debates have lost their shine. Gone are the good old days when people rely heavily on news contents to make informed decisions and choices. Public discourse in the media has been reduced to propaganda, lies, and falsehood. Hate speeches dominate media space. Our news contents are devoid of depth, objectivity, sincerity and professionalism. What we daily stumble on in most newspapers are largely public relation stories planted by individuals to attack perceived political enemies. In such a clime or situation, truth becomes the first casualty.
The National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki is one Nigerian who despite his privileged background has vowed to devote his time, energy and resources to genuine efforts geared towards ensuring that Nigeria takes her pride of place in the comity of developed nations. Expectedly, this disposition comes with a lot of risks and painful sacrifices. Not unaware of the several hurdles one tends to encounter in his quest to right some wrongs, Col. Dasuki got himself prepared for the task of nation building. But one thing I know about this individual called Col. Sambo Dasuki is the fact that he’s not known for double-speak. He offers his views on issues based on convictions and not emotions.
His recent visit to the Chatham House, a revered public policy and renowned research centre in the United Kingdom has further brought him to the limelight. As usual, the NSA had travelled all the way to the United Kingdom to keep the world abreast of various efforts being put in place by the Nigerian government and her people towards ensuring that the forthcoming general elections are successfully conducted. In a well-researched and up-to-date lecture with the theme: Nigeria’s Insecurity: Insurgency, Corruption, Elections and the Management of Multiple Threats, Col. Sambo brilliantly put a lie to unfounded stories that Nigeria has been reduced to a pariah society as a result of insurgency. The issues he raised and discussed were devoid of lies, propaganda and tricks. He spoke like an intellectual figure that he is.
On the forthcoming general elections and fears nursed by some Nigerians on the dangers of holding elections in areas bedevilled by growing insecurity, the NSA said, “We are conscious that there is some anxiety about whether elections will hold in the north east and the ability of the government to ensure that the internally displaced will be able to vote. Our answer to both of those is yes. As far as is possible we are determined that adequate security will be in place to enable elections in all the areas in the north east that are safe, and that the IDP’s will be provided with the opportunity to exercise their vote”.
While keeping the international community abreast of developments with regards to preparations ahead of the forthcoming polls, the NSA hinted that, “However, election security matters cannot be left solely to security agencies and INEC to manage. All other stakeholders, such as the media, community leaders and political parties have a significant role to play in the task of ensuring a peaceful atmosphere during the conduct of elections. Recently all the presidential candidates and their parties agreed to curb the use of hate speech and work towards violence free, fair and credible elections by signing what is now referred to as the Abuja Accord”.
He continued, “Given the above, the 2015 elections are expected to be relatively peaceful and violence free. The Federal Government has taken all necessary measures to ensure this by making adequate provisions for INEC, security agencies and by supporting numerous sensitisation programs.”
During the questions and answers session, at the end of his lecture, the views and opinion were sincere and frank. They were basically his thinking as a Nigerian and not that of the Nigerian government which he indicated in the response. He was very clear on that. The call for a little adjustment in the dates slated for the elections so as to attend to some logistical issues were purely his opinion and nothing more.
“What I said was, there is nothing wrong with us delaying to ensure that everybody that wants to vote gets that card to vote. This is because, the comment every day we hear is: ‘you can’t vote without a permanent voter’s card.’ If you can’t vote without a permanent voter’s card, what sense does it make to vote three months early when 30million people whose card have not been issued are still with INEC?.
Frankly speaking, the NSA only re-echoed the minds of some Nigerians who, from prevailing logistical challenges faced by INEC have rather advocated for a slight adjustment in the dates earlier scheduled for the elections.
From the foregoing narration, it is evidently clear that mischief makers were only in a hurry to malign the personality of the NSA for cheap political reasons. I think we should put on our thinking caps and reflect deeply on the patriotic submission of NSA Dasuki before making haste to call him names.
His views as presented in the paper were plain and straightforward. He wasn’t economical with truth. All issues bordering on elections, insurgency, corruption and other national malaise were highlighted with plethora of examples to buttress them.
Labaran Saleh can be accessed via salelabaran@yahoo.com
Abuja