Combating The Whispering Fears To A National Conference By Odusote Oluwakayode
I know that the concept of nursing fear is dangerous but I do not know how easy it is to conceive the fact that you are afraid yet pretend not to be. John B. Watson, Robert Plutchik, and Paul Ekman have suggested that there is only a small set of basic or innate emotions and that fear is such emotions as joy, sadness, fright, dread, horror, panic, anxiety, acute stress reaction and anger. Wikipedia tells us that fear should be distinguished from anxiety, which typically occurs without certain or immediate external threat.
Fear is frequently related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance, whereas anxiety is the result of threats which are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable. It is worth noting that fear almost always relates to future events, such as worsening of a situation, or continuation of a situation that is unacceptable. Fear can also be an instant reaction to something presently happening. All people have instinctual response to potential danger, which is in fact important to the survival of all species. Fear can be a manipulating and controlling factor in an individual’s life
The fear of the unknown or known seldom keeps many of us in stagnancy. It pulls us down from progress. It weakens the effort for innovation and destroys a resolve for accomplishment. A nation living in fear is therefore being haunted by so many factors of its weaknesses to face the reality of its existence, understand the originality of its unity and combat its own fears.
In assuring a better, united and peaceful nation, there is the need to overcome our fears. There is nothing wrong in being afraid, even the most developed nations have fears to overcome in the wake of terrorism. Apart from security, developed nations do not want to be relegated on the world economic scale; therefore great nations of the earth are guided by facing the challenges of fears with courage. Great achievements are realized when nations rise up boldly to confront the challenges it faces, no matter what it is, to acknowledge it, confront and take ownership of the fears to keep it from holding the nation back.
In trying to understand those aspects of ourselves that we believe will guarantee us the acceptance of each other’s differences; the President announced a national dialogue after years of intense pressure from well-meaning Nigerians who had clamored for a conference of ethnic nationalities. The committee which he announced during the 53rd Independence anniversary in a nationwide broadcast is to be headed by an Afenifere chieftain and a former Senator, Dr Femi Okunroumu who incidentally is among those who have been clamoring for the conference. He and the committee members have one month within which to recommend modalities for the conference.
The need to confront our fears as a nation led to the strong agitation for the convocation of a conference, which is popularly believed to be a panacea for the crisis bedeviling the country. Although there has been opposition to such conference whether “Sovereign” or otherwise, a leading opposing figure – Senate President David Mark surprisingly lent his support for the conference recently when he said the time for its conveyance was now.
Before now, I have wondered why opposition will mount against the genuine call for a dialogue needed to move a nation forward. We have for long chained ourselves to some rhyme of “Unity in Diversity” without the necessary understanding of such diversities. A country called Nigeria has long existed on understanding her diversities of language, culture, tribe, region and religion that berths strong segregation. Nigeria has existed along the lines of complains, regret, hatred and discomfort. Words are not spoken freely in order not to sprout clashes in a different zone for fears of misrepresenting opinions and or facts
For the years we had refused to dialogue, we crept unconsciously into the massive ocean of terrorism haunting us continuously without a solution in sight. Apart from terrorism, the causative organisms of the former have been corruption and poverty. A corrupt nation had for long refused to build, repair and maintain roads, provide jobs for the unemployed, provide basic amenities, provide quality education, quality and affordable health care – which gave room to continuous institutional collapse.
A poor and wasteful nation had for long depended on income from oil without sustaining the once buoyant agricultural sector where the pride of a nation laid in cocoa production and the great groundnut pyramid. The groundnut pyramids used to be landmarks where sacks of groundnuts were packed and piled one upon another with systematic expertise that forms a triangular shape much like the pyramids in Egypt, thus making it the second pyramid in Africa and the world in general- these are great trades that provided a nation’s population with good sources of income. In the midst of these sad collapses, how do we measure a refusal to dialogue, think of our failures, confront it and retrace our steps towards the right direction?
For the years we had refused to hold a national conference to discuss the way forward for Nigeria, we ran away from confronting our fears – fears of a possible break up. The question is, why do we fear a break up if that is what is required for peaceful existence? Why must pessimism of a breakup be accommodated in the quest to realistically and collectively channel a way forward for peaceful co-existence? For the years we had refused to tackle corruption, we ran away from confronting our fears – fears of not touching the “powerful” ones. Most of our wealthy leaders both corporate and political have questionable sources of becoming sudden billionaire. Why does a nation fear to put up effective system to curb corruption?
In confronting our fears, we must see to it that the people are constantly reminded that our country is the most populous black nation on earth with endowed natural resources but an economically backward and poor one, and that this is a very great challenge. A developed Nigeria needs several intense efforts; this will include, among other things, the effort to combat waste and corruption. The beauty of a national dialogue teaches the people of a nation that individual commitment and diligence should be practiced in running every sector that makes a nation grow progressively. The principle of commitment and diligence should be observed in everything – socio –political.
Nigeria is a big country, but very poor. I do not understand the economic indices when there is economic growth without the urgent development required – foreign reserve is always said to be on the rise yet the nation swim in poverty. It will take several decades to make Nigeria and her people prosperous but the road map to such greatness must be collectively designed and agreed to – every unit of our co-existence must be responsible to the project called Nigeria through a sincere dialogue.
There are challenges abounding in the proposed national dialogue but we must wait for the committee to come up with its detailed plan. Be that as it may, the idea is a fantastic one. “The history of mankind is one of continuous development from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom. This process is never-ending. In any society in which classes exist class struggle will never end. In classless society the struggle between the new and the old and between truth and falsehood will never end. In the fields of the struggle for production and scientific experiment, mankind makes constant progress and nature undergoes constant change, they never remain at the same level. Therefore, man has constantly to sum up experience and go on discovering, inventing, creating and advancing. Ideas of stagnation, pessimism, inertia and complacency are all wrong. They are wrong because they agree neither with the historical facts of social development over the past million years, nor with the historical facts of nature so far known to us (i.e., nature as revealed in the history of celestial bodies, the earth, life, and other natural phenomena)” said Mao Tse Tung.
In studying our problems as a nation, we must shun subjectivity, one-sidedness and superficiality. To be subjective means not to look at problems objectively, that is, not to use the materialist viewpoint in looking at problems. All hands must be involved- ethnic nationalities and interest groups. It is not expected that all agitation will be accommodated but what should be guided and protected are the interests of the people of a United Nigeria.
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