I njustice to one, according to Martin Luther King, Jnr. is injustice to all. There is a deep sense of frustration in the polity caused largely by elements in the Fourth Republic whose actions and inactions created an unprecedented atmosphere of division. The immediate past regime of President Muhammadu Buhari ascended power in 2015 promising to turn Nigeria into a paradise on earth. By the time the former dictator turned democrat left office in May 2023, almost everything about the nation had nosedived. It is for this and previous devious reasons that we call for a new National Reconciliation Commission. There was one in1996, set up by Gen. Sani Abacha and headed by Chief Alex Akinyele. It was known as NARECOM. That great idea died with the intrigues that followed the incarceration of Chief Moshood Abiola.
President Olusegun Obasanjo moved a step further in 1999 when he inaugurated the Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission, chaired by Justice Chukwudifu Oputa. It wound up in 2002 with little accomplished. The new National Reconciliation Commission should be an agency of government that has no time limit. There are scars and wounds that have remained since the First Republic and continue to determine who gets what and keep pushing false narratives about national unity. Truth and reconciliation form part of the march to nationhood. Wounds are healed, mending broken hearts and opening up new perspectives channelled towards integration. Argentina tried it in 1983. South Africa adopted it in 1995, Ghana did in 2003 and Canada has followed suit. Nigerians cannot continue to shy away from the effects of the Civil War.
General Yakubu Gowon preached the Three Rs of Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation in 1970. And until the military coup of 1983, concerted efforts were made to heal the wounds of war. Unfortunately, Buhari, the man that sent the Second Republic packing in 1983, returned to power as a civilian in 2015 and continued with what looked like a Second Civil War. He invented five percent politics and allowed bandits from all over Africa to domicile in the country.
What Buhari did to Nigeria is like what the atomic bomb did to Hiroshima. We managed our differences to a great extent. He apparently did not like that. As President, his allegiance seemed to be across the Northern border through Jibiya. Unbelievably, Niger Republic got more infrastructure than the whole of the former Eastern Region of Nigeria. The South-West did not fare any better. Despite having a Vice President of Yoruba extraction, all the forests, from Ore to Ogbomosho, were occupied by well-armed bandits who were known to the locals but protected by some of those in authority.
In the North-West, if it was not Hausa killing Fulani in Zamfara or vice versa, it was criminals driving citizens from their homes, even in the president’s state of Katsina. In Kaduna, it became something akin to a Holy War between Christians and Muslims. The Middle Belt became a battlefield. What was dismissed as dispute between farmers and herders was indeed full scale genocide aimed at displacing a set of Nigerians with people of different stock from outside our borders. After eight years of bloodletting and maladministration coupled with total national and regional disillusionment, we call on President Bola Tinubu to bring the various nationalities that make up the country into a room to settle their differences. The National Reconciliation Commission should be a departure from the Peace Committee that only appears during presidential elections and goes back to sleep thereafter. Sanity can only prevail under sustained reconciliatory interventions.
While Kano boils, there is no concerted effort to bring Rabiu Kwankwaso and Abdullahi Ganduje together devoid of politics. The greater good of the people supersedes personal interests. A Truth Commission can pass this message better. Tinubu has a way of making up with adversaries. He did it with Olagunsoye Oyinlola. The president and Gbenga Daniel are in the same party. Former Ogun State Governor and Senator, Ibikunle Amosun, stepped down for him during the presidential primaries. Peter Obi bears no political grudges. He was with Emeka Ihedioha during Mama Ihedioha’s funeral. Obi stayed with Ken Nnamani during his wife’s burial. This is what a National Reconciliation Commission will preach. Let peace reign.