It seems to me that we have been taking a defeatist approach by folding our arms and claiming that only prayers can solve our problems. Indeed prayer is required but my believe is that God will accept our prayers when we match it with action which will show that we are determined to pursue the cause which we committed into our wish through our prayer.
For our prayers to become real and effective we must make sure that we cultivate the tradition and virtues of ensuring that the fundamental personal freedom of every citizen is safe. As Nigerians we must be free to choose to live anywhere we like in the country without hinderance. This freedom is guaranteed by our constitution.
The idea that some ethnic groups feel that they are better than some other groups which creates the problem of group-feeling must be eradicated. This attitude of people considering themselves to be good, wise and righteous and others as foolish, evil or dangerous and we must watch against them mentality has been the major cause of disagreement and conflict in Nigeria today.
It is evident that where such feelings exist naturally it tries to weaken other groups by refusing them privileges that they enjoy by always trying to keep them down and having an overly high opinion of themselves.
But as Aristotle said that there were some races who were naturally suitable for slavery and within those societies even when slavery was abolished, the mental attitudes which it encourages have a way of surviving in them. That situation is the true depiction of the Nigerian mind or spirit today. It is indeed sad to note that some people feel unfortunate to be of the wrong tribe, or wrong political party or the wrong religion in areas where they are dominated by the majority tribe, party or religion.
Our prayers and demands for the upholding of our rights, freedoms and rule of law shall only be preserved and answered when we cultivate the virtues that justice and freedom require. We are all responsible for the rule of law and when we all break the law in petty ways and aim merely at living an easy life and keeping out of trouble, we are behaving like slaves and we shall deserve a government which will treat us as slaves. Human rights and the rule of law will exist only as long as the great majority of citizens believe in them so strongly that they are willing to take trouble and run risks for them.
In Nigeria, our leaders and especially the President who is the Commander In Chief must know that even though the sovereign may be legally absolute, but his power is limited by moral force, that he must obey the law.He has no arbitrary power over Nigerian citizens while also we expect every Nigerian to know what the law requires him to do as no one is expected to escape punishment by pleading ignorance of the law. Similarly our government officials ought not to escape punishment if they violate a citizen’s legal rights for example for punishing him for an action which is not an offence against the law. If we allow our government officials and those assigned to perform their delegated tasks behave arbitrarily in performing their duties, we are ignoring all that our democratic principles taught us.
Plato argued that a just State will be one peopled by just men, and the price of liberty is perpetual vigilance. Each of us is awake when his own liberty is threatened; most of us are inclined to close our eyes when the threat is to our neighbour’s liberty. From their readings of Locke, Paine and Rousseau, those who drafted the American Declaration of Independence in 1776 regarded the rights of man as self evident:
‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ This doctrine is largely shared by the Nigerian Constitution which accepts the American Presidential system of government and hence we must recognise that as Nigerians we are all equals and subject to the same law. No one is so great that he can claim to be above the law and in the eyes of the law all men are equal, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, high or low. Therefore to safeguard our rights we must work toward the upholding of human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.
Bashir Shuwa In Leeds,Uk